Community Planning Assistance Teams

Through Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT), the Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association partners with the state Department of Commerce (Commerce) to provide communities (cities, towns or neighborhoods) the assistance of professional planners and other specialists in articulating visions, solving problems or resolving issues. Read on for more information about APA Washington's CPAT program, how you can participate, and how we can create a partnership.

What Is CPAT?

The CPAT is a committee and a program of APA Washington. The objectives of CPAT are to connect plans and actions, identify local and regional resources for sustainable planning, and advance the principles of APA for a Livable Washington. CPAT assistance is targeted to communities that lack planning resources.

CPAT members include planners with expertise in land use, transportation, economic development, urban design, natural resources, parks and recreation, historic preservation, and other areas. There are members all over the state. In addition, CPAT is affiliated with the planning schools at Eastern Washington University and the University of Washington. With these resources, CPAT is accustomed to working with diverse community groups and finding progressive solutions.

Participate in the National APA Community Assistance Program

History of Washington’s CPAT Programalt

The concept for the CPAT program was established in 2001 as a WA-APA priority to provide community design assistance to underserved towns and communities throughout the state.  The initial effort was led by staff from the University of Washington’s Center for Livable Communities, including Roger Wagoner, John Owen, Fritz Wagoner, and Dennis Ryan.  They established the goal of providing the assistance of professional planners and related professions to articulate long term state-wide and regional smart growth visions, and to respond to immediate and short term needs of small communities with limited or no planning resources.

The program was officially launched by Washington APA in 2005 and led by planners’ Paula Reeves and Kristian Kofoed, with the support of an advisory committee.  Since that time, CPAT has conducted community altbased events in Sultan (2005), Cle Elum (2006), Concrete (2007), Zillah (2007), Morton (2007), Royal City (2009), Goldendale (2009), Woodland (2009), Prosser (2010-2011), Ocean Shores (2012), and Aberdeen (2014). CPAT also recently led an AICP Community Planning Workshop for Seattle's Belltown neighborhood as a part of the 2015 National APA Conference in Seattle (see below for more details).  Each of these projects had their own distinct focuses and goals.  The final reports from these efforts are below.

CPAT Reports

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What CPAT Can Provide

CPAT offers several levels of assistance. Upon submission of a completed CPAT Request for Assistance form, CPAT's Technical Advisory Committee will review the request and determine whether the applicant qualifies for assistance, and if so, what level of assistance is appropriate. CPAT levels of assistance range from a consultation to various types of community-based events and follow-up activities.

  • Consultation is the simplest and quickest CPAT assistance level. Assistance is provided through a telephone or in-person conference between your community's representative(s) and CPAT team members. This Consultation level of assistance provides suggestions of self-help measures and/or alternative resources appropriate to the defined issues.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, various types of Community-based Events and Follow-up provide a more substantive level of assistance. The one to two day planning charrettes provide more in-depth analysis and a culminating report, such as those linked to this site. A CPAT Community-based Event requires between four to six months of planning and coordination, and thus a higher level of commitment from your community. A Memorandum of Understanding will be developed following pre-event consultations. Scheduling of the event should be based on other local activities and fixed events. A Friday evening / Saturday all day schedule is generally the most productive. After the charrette, follow-up contacts from CPAT may provide support for implementation.

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How You Can Participate

There are three distinct kinds of participants in CPAT efforts: communities, individual volunteers, and organizations.

  • Communities (cities, towns or neighborhoods) seeking CPAT assistance must complete and submit a CPAT Request for Assistance describing a well-defined problem or issue that can be addressed in a defined amount of time, the community's need, local support, and the specific deliverable being requested. To apply, download and complete the CPAT Request for Assistance form, then email it to the office. The Request for Assistance form can be printed instead and is also available by calling a CPAT Co-chair below. The completed form should be forwarded to: APA Washington, 603 Stewart St, Suite 610, Seattle WA 98101.
  • Individual volunteers with relevant subject matter expertise may find a satisfying pro bono experience as a resource person on CPAT. If you are willing to serve as a volunteer, please call a CPAT Co-chair (contact information listed below) to learn about current and future volunteer opportunities.
  • Organizations interested in partnering should call a CPAT Co-chair below to explore their interests and discuss getting a partnership discussion scheduled.

Recent & Current CPAT Activities

Benton City Revitalization Roundtable.  Last August, the CPAT team conducted a roundtable event for Benton City that focused on the developing a staged approach for supporting economic development within the City’s commercial core and identified improvement strategies for its “Main Street”. The goals identified for this CPAT event were to provide Benton City with a framework for an economically stable and vibrant town that can cumulatively improve with time.

Approximately 30 community members and CPAT volunteers participated in the Benton City event, which covered two days and included the following elements:

  • A tour of main street and area wineries, stakeholder interviews, and a team dinner with CPAT volunteers and core stakeholder group to discuss issues and strategize for activities on the second day.
  • An introductory session where local stakeholders shared their respective points of view.
  • A closed roundtable session identifying issues of consensus followed by a working lunch and a strategy refinement session. Participants broke out outcomes into phased development efforts that are cumulative and with milestones. These development milestones were oriented towards specific outcomes at pre-determined increments (3, 5 and 7 years)
  • A public open house to share the findings of the day’s deliberations including caveats for success and limitations of the effort will underscore the steps and collective commitment that must follow
Images from the Benton City CPAT roundtable event

A link to the Benton City final report is included under the CPAT reports heading above.

Skykomish.  The Town of Skykomish recently submitted an application requesting CPAT assistance to conduct a roundtable and community event centered on promoting economic vitality through improved traffic safety, access, operations along US 2 as well as development of an active transportation vision for the community.

While we typically focus on only one CPAT event at a time, we are always accepting project applications. If you know of a community that could use some CPAT assistance, please contact me, Bob Bengford (BobB@makersarch.com) or my co-chair Patrick Lynch (patrick.lynch@transpogroup.com). If you'd like to volunteer for a CPAT project, feel free to contact either of us at any time

Summary

As interest builds in the APA Washington CPAT program, the assistance approach continues to be refined. CPAT is working with applicant cities, universities and additional partnering organizations such as the Association of Washington Cities, the Washington Association of Counties, the National APA Urban Design and Preservation Division, and others to find more ways to effectively provide pro-bono planning assistance. For more information, please contact me, Bob Bengford, or my co-chair Patrick Lynch (patrick.lynch@transpogroup.com).