Population & Employment Projections

As part of the Comprehensive Plan update and urban growth area (UGA) review, the county and cities are undertaking a process to allocate population and employment growth to UGAs and the areas of the county outside of UGAs.

Public input and discussion are encouraged throughout the process.


There are several steps in the process of allocating growth, including:
  • Technical / Background Reports - The county and cities hired a consulting firm, BERK, to develop a document entitled Whatcom County Population and Employment Projections and Urban Growth Area Allocations - Phase I Technical Report (PDF). This report, which was issued in July 2013 and revised in November 2013, analyzes historical growth and develops preliminary allocations to UGAs and the area outside UGAs primarily based upon historic growth trends and shares. This report represented a starting point for public input and discussions by planning commissions and elected officials. BERK issued another report entitled Background Research on Selected Economic, Demographic, and Housing Trends (PDF) in November 2013.
  • Initial Policy Based Recommendations - The county and the cities issued recommendations to adjust the technical allocations based upon county goals, city goals, public input, infrastructure capacity, land availability, etc. This step included several meetings of the Whatcom County Planning Commission in late 2013 and early 2014.
  • Multi-Jurisdictional Resolution - The Whatcom County Council approved a nonbinding multi-jurisdictional resolution relating to population and employment growth allocations (PDF) on March 11, 2014. This resolution provides preliminary growth allocations for conducting environmental review, further analyzing land capacity, developing draft land use planning proposals, traffic modeling, and formulating draft capital facility plans.
  • Formal Planning Commission Recommendations - The Whatcom County Planning Commission will hold public hearings in 2015 on various components of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, including the population and employment growth projections. The commission will issue formal recommendations to the County Council for modifications to the Comprehensive Plan.
  • County Council Adoption of Growth Allocations - Final population and employment growth allocations will be adopted in the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan update, which must be completed by June 2016.