The Planning Department facilitates the orderly development of the community through the provision of long- and short-term planning services. The Planning Department develops and administers the city's Comprehensive Plan, which is the community's basic guide to growth and development. The Comprehensive Plan is implemented through a series of regulations, including the zoning code, subdivision ordinance, critical areas ordinance, state environmental policy act provisions, shorelines master program, and design standards. New developments proposed to be established in the city are reviewed to ensure that they are compatible with their neighborhoods. For those projects that may have significant impacts, public hearings are held to discuss the proposed developments, their ramifications, and possible mitigation measures.

The Planning Department is assisted in its efforts by the Planning Commission, the Historic Preservation Commission, and a Hearing Examiner.   The Planning Commission makes recommendations to the City Council on all long-range planning matters and certain development applications. The Historic Preservation Commission protects historic resources by means of promotion, regulation, and economic incentives. The Hearing Examiner decides upon exceptional land use cases and variances from zoning code provisions.
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