Case Study

City of Pasco, WA Prepares for Growth with Collaborative Planning and Permitting

The City of Pasco sits on the Columbia River in southwest Washington. The Lewis and Clark Expedition once camped nearby, but a lot’s changed for this former railroad town turned agricultural center, as its population climbs steadily upward. 

The City has seen a 28% increase in population since 2000, and is now home to 80,000 residents. Another 50,000 are expected in the next 20 years. As one of the fastest-growing communities in the state, Pasco faces the challenge of planning for future growth, providing high levels of services to its residents, and maintaining its essential infrastructure.

To enable growth and development and meet the long-term needs and priorities of its residents, City leaders and planners are taking a proactive approach toward growth and are bringing the Comprehensive Plan to life through collaborative planning and by overhauling the permitting process. 

Assistant City Manager Angela Pashon recognized an opportunity with the election of a new Council (the City operates under a council form of government with an appointed city manager). Pashon and her team worked collaboratively with Council to identify opportunities to prepare for growth by tapping state grants, updating zoning to accommodate two and four-family homes, and implementing a new permitting process to simplify the process for developers and residents.  

“We are taking every opportunity we can to tap into grants and technical resources to ensure that we are able to accommodate growth now and in the future.”

Angela Pashon, Assistant City Manager, City of Pasco, WA

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Population
59,781

Agency Type
City

Annual Budget
USD 600,330,509.00

Role
Administration

Region
Northwest
West

Solution
Permitting & Licensing

Customer Results

Easily Make Changes to Permits to Accommodate Zoning Ordinances

Communicate Effectively Across Departments to Reach Strategic Goals

Improved Customer Service to Build Trust

From Transactional to Strategic Partnership

The City’s previous planning process was transactional in nature with developers showing up with plans and planners signing off with little guidance on how to partner to drive optimal outcomes for the community. “To be a partner in growth requires a mindset shift from rubber stamping plans yes or no, to communicating effectively and following a permitting process that drives the right steps for planners and developers,” described Jacob Gonzalez, Community & Economic Development Planning Manager, City of Pasco, WA .

“What’s different is that previously we built the comprehensive plan, it went on the shelf, and then we got consumed on day-to-day things like fence permits,” said Gonzalez.

With manual processes or hard-coded systems, making changes to permitting and licensing processes is a massive lift, often requiring IT time. The City of Pasco selected OpenGov because the system allowed for teams to be agile and make changes immediately in the case of new zoning ordinances, or as needed to move toward a more collaborative process that involves individuals working together across departments. 

“We needed a way to be more nimble and communicate with our developer community what the new requirements were throughout the permitting process and make it simpler for them to understand and partner with our team to comply,” explained Assistant City Manager Pashon. 

Next Stop: Planning for Transportation Investments

As part of its effort to enable development, the City is tasked with “not messing up,” in Pashon’s words, building and expanding critical new roadways to accommodate growth. The City is built on grids that have expanded over the years, resulting in a “spaghetti bowl” of a transportation network unsuitable for public transit or emergency vehicles. New development creates mobility challenges if not considered in tandem.

Pasco uses Cartegraph Asset Management to access the information they need to plan infrastructure updates and accommodate future growth. With a view into its existing infrastructure, the City can align planned work with needed road maintenance to save money. The City also has a view into existing infrastructure that supports development to help inform the planning process. With Cartegraph, Pasco has the ability to conduct scenario planning to anticipate the future costs of its transportation investments and prepare for deferred maintenance costs.

Building Trust Through Collaboration

The collaborative approach that the City is taking to planning reflects Pashon’s belief that accountability and transparency are the keys to building meaningful relationships with Council, residents, and developers.  

“Customer service is first and foremost… it is one of our highest priorities and has a lot to do with accountability which is why we made the move to OpenGov,” Pashon said.

By bringing priorities to life through planning and more collaborative permitting processes the City is showing that it can be a partner in growth and proactively implement plans that meet the 20+ year needs of Pasco’s residents. 

To learn more about how the City of Pasco, WA, is keeping its growth on track, watch this webinar featuring Assistant City Manager Angela Pashon.

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