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AGO 1963 No. 37 - July 19, 1963
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ‑- STATE COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING ‑- AUTHORITY TO RECEIVE AND EXPEND FEDERAL FUNDS.

The department of commerce and economic development under chapter 161, Laws of 1963, has the authority (1) to do state comprehensive planning including comprehensive planning as defined in the federal housing act of 1954, as amended; and (2) to receive and expend federal or other funds for such purposes.

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                                                                    July 19, 1963

Honorable Robert E. Rose
Director, Department of Commerce
and Economic Development
General Administration Building
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 37

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested this office for an opinion on the following question:

            Does chapter 161, Laws of 1963, enable the department of commerce and economic development to do "state comprehensive planning," including comprehensive planning as defined in the housing act of 1954, as amended, including the authority to receive and expend federal or other funds for such purposes?

            We answer your question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Prior to the enactment of chapter 161, Laws of 1963, you had requested the advice of the attorney general concerning the legal authority of the department of commerce and economic development to do state comprehensive planning and to qualify for federal funds for that purpose under the housing act of 1954, as amended.  This office advised you by letter of October 14, 1960, that we could find no statutory authority for your department or any other state department or agency to do such planning.  However, the 1963 legislature enacted chapter 161, which amended chapter 215, Laws of 1957 (chapter 43.31 RCW), and among other things, delegated to the department of commerce and economic development additional powers in the area of planning.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Thus, § 2 of chapter 161, provides as follows:

            "The department of commerce and economic development, through the appropriate division, in order to facilitate municipal, urban, metropolitan and regional planning, and to encourage such areas to maintain a continuing and adequate program for planning shall serve generally as a consultative, coordinating and advisory agency for aiding such planning bodies, directly, or in securing planning assistance, consultative services and technical aid which may include surveys, land use, demographic and economic studies, comprehensive plans, urban renewal plans and other plans.  The department through the division, shall serve generally as a consultative, coordinating and advisory agency for state departments or agencies for planning andshall be responsible for the preparation of a state comprehensive plan.  The director shall employ competent, qualified, technical personnel and such other personnel as may be required to administer this amendatory act."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            You will note the foregoing section not only authorizes your department to do state comprehensive planning, but imposes the affirmative duty upon the appropriate division of the department to prepare a state comprehensive plan.  Inasmuch as chapter 161, Laws of 1963, does not define the term "state comprehensive plan," its meaning must be determined by reference to the purpose of the statute.  Hichino Uyeno v. Acheson, 96 F.Supp. 510 (1951).  Since the present increased emphasis upon planning both on the state and local level is due to federal legislation and federal money grants, the term should be construed to comply with the provisions of federal law, if possible.

            Section 701 (d) of the housing act of 1954, as amended in 1959, defines comprehensive planning as follows:

            ". . . (1) preparation, as a guide for longrange development, of general physical plans with respect to the pattern and intensity of land use and the provision of public facilities, together with long-range fiscal plans for such development; (2) programming of capital improvements based on a determination of relative urgency, together with definitive  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] financing plans for the improvements to be constructed in the earlier years of the program; (3) coordination of all related plans of the departments or subdivisions of the government concerned; (4) intergovernmental coordination of all related planned activities among the State and local governmental agencies concerned; and (5) preparation of regulatory and administrative measures in support of the foregoing."

            Inasmuch as the foregoing statement embodies the generally accepted definition of comprehensive planning, it is our opinion that there is nothing in our present law which would restrict the department in complying with the foregoing provisions of § 701 (d).

            With regard to your question concerning whether the department of commerce and economic development is authorized to receive and expend federal or other funds for state comprehensive planning, we direct your attention to § 3, chapter 161, Laws of 1963, which provides as follows:

            "The director, through the appropriate division, may accept contributions, grants, or other financial assistance from the government of the United States for, or in aid of, any planning program.  The director shall promulgate such rules and regulations, in accordance with the procedures set forth in chapter 34.04 RCW, enter into such agreements, prescribe such conditions, perform such other lawful act as may be necessary to secure the financial aid and cooperation of the government of the United States and local planning bodies to implement any planning program."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Accordingly, it is our opinion that the department has the authority to do state comprehensive planning as prescribed under § 701 (d), and to receive and expend federal or other funds in carrying out such planning functions.

            We wish to point out, in addition, that chapter 161, Laws of 1963, does not have the effect of depriving the department of the responsibility to provide planning and assistance to local areas which was the basis of an attorney general's opinion written to your  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] department December 10, 1957, (AGO 57-58 No. 140 [[to Department of Commerce and Economic Development]]) in view of the provisions of § 4, chapter 161, which provides as follows:

            "The powers conferred by sections 2 and 3 of this amendatory act are in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other state or local law, and nothing herein contained shall be construed as limiting or restricting any other powers of the department, the state, or any political subdivision thereof."

            Although § 5 of chapter 161, Laws of 1963, specifically repealed §§ 1 and 2 of chapter 157, Laws of 1957 (RCW 43.21.181, 43.21.183), the specific provisions of §§ 1 and 2 of chapter 157, Laws of 1957, are embodied in §§ 1 and 2 of chapter 161, Laws of 1963.

            In conclusion, it is the opinion of this office that the department of commerce and economic development is now legally authorized to do state comprehensive planning under the housing act of 1954, as amended, and to receive and expend federal or other funds for such purpose.  In addition, the department's responsibility for providing planning assistance to local areas under the housing act of 1954, as amended, has not been affected by the 1963 law.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

CHARLES I. MCCLURE
Assistant Attorney General

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