City Center FAQ

Learn more about Fife’s plans for a new city center.

Why is the City planning to create a City Center now?

Many changes are coming to the Puget Sound region, and Fife needs to be ready when they arrive. In the next 25 years regional transportation will change significantly. SR 167 is to be extended to meet with I-5 and the Port of Tacoma. Some parts of the I-5 interchange system in Fife will also be redesigned and rebuilt. And if the voters approve, the regional light rail system will extend from South King County all the way to Tacoma, with a station in Fife. If implemented, that will connect Fife to a regional light rail transportation system to Seattle and possibly going as far north as Everett.

The update to the City’s long term Transportation Plan provides the City of Fife with an opportunity to build upon, reinforce, and refine certain land use principles supportive of these transportation improvements. These land use principles are adopted in the City’s existing land use plan documents.

What does Fife’s Long Range Comprehensive Plan currently say?

In 2006, the City of Fife updated its Comprehensive Land Use Plan to encourage the development of a downtown area as the center of commercial, civic, cultural and recreational activities. This was encouraged by:

  • Creating a compact downtown area that is inviting to work, shop, live and socialize
  • Encouraging a balance of residential, public entertainment and business uses
  • Encouraging multi-story development that is walkable and promotes civic gathering places and public amenities such as community centers, libraries, and parks

In 2011, the City of Fife Comprehensive Plan land use map was amended to identity a downtown district center along the Interstate 5 Corridor. This includes both the north and south sides of Interstate 5. Existing zoning is supportive of a downtown district. Certain zoning districts seek to accommodate a range of well-designed retail, service, civic, entertainment, recreation and high density residential uses to create a new focal point of community activity. Existing zoning also provides opportunities for people to live in close proximity to employment, shopping and recreational activities.

Preliminary analysis shows that future transportation improvements lend themselves to additional refinement of these land use principles to establish a City Center on the north side of Interstate-5, near 54th Avenue, along with more convenient pedestrian access on 54th between the north and the south side of Interstate-5.

What does a City Center look like?

How people use land and how people use transportation is closely linked. Land use patterns in Centers often are based on a concept called “Transit Oriented Development” (TOD).

TOD establishes a compact mixed use (residential and commercial) land use pattern which gives people an opportunity to live and work in a well-planned environment that is close (about a ¼ mile radius) to high capacity transit systems, be they bus, rail or other forms of transit.

TOD works best in geographic areas rather than an entire city. But on a broad level, TOD serves the entire community even if the individual doesn’t live or work in the TOD area. Many of the features that make living and working in a TOD attractive, such as great shopping and popular parks can be used by everyone. A TOD encourages businesses and visitors to come to the city, which also benefits everyone.

What will be the outcome of the visioning process?

At the end of the visioning process, the city will adopt a City Center Plan to serve as the blueprint for development in Fife over the next few decades. The Plan will be reviewed by the City Planning Commission and then brought to the City Council for consideration, where there will be additional opportunities for public comment. This plan will:

  • Define a vision for a City Center in Fife
  • Communicate that vision through text and graphics
  • Identify the City Center Boundaries
  • Establish the Strategies and Policies for Creating the City Center

From there, more detailed planning work will begin in the form of changes to zoning and other regulations.

What are goals and objectives for a city center visioning process?

Benefits of this process include:

  • Engaging the community in defining the future city center for the City of Fife
  • Creating an economic environment that helps existing and future businesses continue to be or become successful
  • Attracting new businesses that provide jobs to residents in locations where they are best suited
  • Accommodating future growth by encouraging higher density multi-family residential development in mixed use areas of the city rather than near our single family neighborhoods
  • Providing individuals with an opportunity to live and work in close proximity to transit
  • Creating a land use pattern that provides for a more safe, walkable, and pedestrian-oriented lifestyle and easier use of public transit
  • Encouraging a well-planned and well-designed business area that can increase the city tax base and provide for funding of city services
  • Encouraging private and public investment, attracting shoppers and visitors, and appealing to existing and new residents
  • Promoting attractive streetscapes and urban green spaces

How does this relate to what other cities might be doing?

The four county (Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Snohomish) Puget Sound Region is guided by a regional planning document called VISION 2040. VISION 2040 sets forth the Puget Sound region’s growth management strategy and calls for an efficient land use pattern based on a hierarchy of “centers” connected by a network of many kinds of high capacity transit, such as light rail, bus, and commuter rail.

Many cities have either adopted, or are now planning for, “centers” to allow for an efficient and sustainable land use pattern that takes advantage of this regional high capactiy transportation network. This land use will lessen the region’s reliance on single occupant vehicle use and reduce the negative effects of those vehicles, on air quality and traffic congestion. These centers feature very similar characteristics

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