YEAR | 2013

Office of Financial Management

Analysis of Statewide Adult Correctional Needs and Costs

The Washington State Legislature directed the Office of Financial Management to conduct an analysis of statewide adult correctional needs, including how operational costs are incurred among local governments and barriers and solutions for the use of local jail beds in lieu of prison beds. Reasons for the study included county and regional jails looking for ways to address funding gaps due to extra capacity in some jails and the State Department of Corrections anticipating needing 1,000 medium security prison beds by 2020.

BERK partnered with Anne Pflug, Campbell Consulting and Joplin Consulting to explore the feasibility of collaboration between DOC and local entities to most efficiently meet detention and program needs across the state. Several methods, both quantitative and qualitative, were employed to answer the study questions and develop recommendations, including site visits, interviews, data analysis, a literature review and a survey inventory of jails.

College Access Now

Strategic Plan 2014-18 and Communications Materials

Founded in 2006, CAN helps low income students attend and graduate from college, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. CAN’s high touch coaching model embeds AmeriCorps members in the high schools served, where they develop crucial relationships and build trust with students. Working closely with CAN’s Board and leadership staff, BERK led development of the organization’s first strategic plan. We interviewed stakeholders, facilitated a planning committee, and held workshops with CAN’s AmeriCorps and staff team. After the plan was completed, BERK collaborated with CAN’s Graphic Design team to develop marketing materials and branding for their website.

Port of Seattle

Tourism Study

In January 2012, the Port of Seattle Commission approved the Century Agenda strategic goals, which communicate a common vision for how the Port can serve the public interest for the next 25 years. One of the goals is to “Advance this region as a leading tourism destination and business gateway”. As part of the ongoing efforts to improve the net operating income of its business units, the Port reviewed its Tourism Program to determine whether there may be untapped revenue opportunities that could be pursued which would also enhance the overall tourism goals of the organization. Toward this end, the Port contracted with BERK to do a general overview of the program and to specifically conduct research to determine whether other ports earn revenue from direct tourism-related business activities and if so, if the sources of revenue or programs and/or services that generate revenue could be adapted to help fund the Port of Seattle’s Tourism Program.

City of Kent

Cost Efficiencies Study

The City engaged BERK to analyze staffing, structure, and services provided by city government in order to provide recommendations to generate further efficiencies in governmental operations, with the goal of reducing the city’s annual budget. BERK prepared a situation assessment which included an analysis of city trends, a review of organizational structure and span of control, and a review of the budgets of peer and neighbor cities. The situation assessment was used as a platform to develop a long list of potential cost efficiency and effectiveness opportunities. This effort involved direct collaboration with City staff, in particular related to potential impacts or tradeoffs of potential efficiency measures.

Santa Clara County Library District

Library Services Return on Investment Study

Using a host of qualitative and quantitative methods, BERK analyzed the economic and other benefits that the Santa Clara County Library District provides to its community. This included developing a conservative return on investment value for quantifiable Library District services and developing an engaging narrative describing the non-quantifiable benefits based on stakeholder interviews and other qualitative analysis.


The study’s results were presented in two visually-appealing documents, an executive summary folio and a full report, both of which were optimized for print and digital distribution. These documents were designed and written to be accessible to a diverse audience, while also speaking to key decisions makers in the Santa Clara County area. The products were used during a successful Special Tax Election, which renewed $6 million in funding for the Library District when it passed with over 80% of the vote.

North Olympia Library System Expansion Study

North Olympia Library System Expansion Study

North Olympia Library System Expansion Study

Port of Seattle

Tourism Study

In January 2012, the Port of Seattle Commission approved the Century Agenda strategic goals, which communicate a common vision for how the Port can serve the public interest for the next 25 years. One of the goals is to “Advance this region as a leading tourism destination and business gateway”. As part of the ongoing efforts to improve the net operating income of its business units, the Port reviewed its Tourism Program to determine whether there may be untapped revenue opportunities that could be pursued which would also enhance the overall tourism goals of the organization.

Toward this end, the Port contracted with BERK to do a general overview of the program and to specifically conduct research to determine whether other ports earn revenue from direct tourism-related business activities and if so, if the sources of revenue or programs and/or services that generate revenue could be adapted to help fund the Port of Seattle’s Tourism Program.

Thurston Regional Planning Council

Regional Commercial Market Study

As part of three-year process to develop a Thurston County Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, BERK worked with the TRPC on a regional commercial market study. The TRPC and regional policy makers are wrestling with a disconnect between adopted plans for future growth and the way growth in the region actually occurs. Much of the county’s recent growth has occurred in rural areas with less than expected growth occurring in urban activity centers and corridors.

The Study analyzed market conditions in Thurston County and identified drivers and constraints that are causing the observed patterns of commercial development. It also assessed the ways in which the public sector can encourage desired concentrations of development in urban centers and corridors. The Study will assist the TRPC in developing reasonable future development scenarios.

Daniels Real Estate

The Community and Economic Value of the North Lot Project

BERK worked with Daniels Real Estate to evaluate the economic impact of the redevelopment of the North Lot (a development site on the north parking lot adjacent to CenturyLink Field) on the local economy and community in support of an application for New Market Tax Credits. The analysis was also designed to support discussions with public and private entities about possible partnerships and increase awareness of the project benefits.

Using the economic impact model IMPLAN, we estimated direct, indirect and induced effects of the economic activity generated by project construction and the activity generated by new residents, businesses and retail tenants. We also discussed the additional qualitative benefits that would be achieved through redevelopment of the site, given its location close to the downtown core and adjacent to a major transit hub.

City of Des Moines

Marina Market Analysis

The City of Des Moines formed an advisory committee to consider potential uses and redevelopment options at the north end of the Des Moines Marina. BERK provided market analysis for a variety of potential uses including retail, restaurant, office, hotel, and marine industrial. Based on this preliminary analysis, the committee and consultant team developed four alternatives representing a 30-year vision for the Marina. BERK then provided comparative financial and development pro forma analysis for each alternative as well as analysis of tax revenue and other fiscal impacts generated by the development alternatives. The committee used the financial and fiscal analysis to agree on a set of preferred options, which were presented to the City Council, and ultimately folded into a Marina and Beach Park Development Plan.

City of Issaquah

Infrastructure Funding Strategy

The City of Issaquah was interested in understanding how the City can support growth in its Central Issaquah Subarea while seeing that development proceeds in a fashion that reinforces important community values and City fiscal sustainability. As part of a broader land use strategy, BERK created: 1) a policy framework for City-initiated local area infrastructure investment; and, 2) an evaluation of different infrastructure funding tools available to cities in Washington. The goal of the study was to better understand the how different infrastructure tools could be deployed to implement the Central Issaquah Subarea Plan.

Departments of Fish & Wildlife, Parks & Recreation, and Natural Resources

Discover Pass Business Plan

The Discover Pass is a vehicle pass created in 2011 that is required to access state lands operated by three state agencies – the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, and State Parks. BERK worked with the three agencies to develop a business plan that will improve operations and increase revenue for the Discover Pass program. Through quantitative analysis and outreach with staff of all three agencies, BERK assessed all aspects of the Discover Pass program, including sales and distribution, product design, marketing, compliance and enforcement, and management decision-making processes. The draft business plan, adopted early in 2013, included proposals for a product redesign, an aggressive expansion of the retail sales program, as well as recommendations to improve agency coordination and program management.

Office of Financial Management

McNeil Island Inventory and Long-Range Planning Process Report

BERK compiled a comprehensive report for the state Office of Financial Management (OFM)  to support a long-range planning process for the future of McNeil Island. The report provides an inventory of information related to McNeil island including  information about ownership and authority issues related to McNeil Island, its history, tribal treaty interests, federal and state decision-making processes, land use, public safety, environmental issues, island and aquatic habitats, historic and archaeological resources, and potential opportunities for revenue. Based on the material gathered for the inventory and ideas shared by interested parties, BERK identified potential use options to be considered in a comprehensive, long-range planning process for the future of McNeil Island. The report also includes  recommendations for short-term actions and a long-range planning process. BERK facilitated information generating meetings for a project work group consisting of two federal agencies and ten state agencies.

Puget Sound Educational Service District

South King County STEM Network Business Plan

Fluency in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) is increasingly important for elementary and high school students preparing for either college or a career. BERK supported the development of the South King County STEM Network Business Plan, which articulates the Vision and Strategy for advancing STEM education in school districts across the Road Map Region. The Plan articulates the need for this investment and identifies three Priorities – Build Awareness & Enthusiasm for STEM, Provide Real World STEM Learning Opportunities, and Develop Student STEM Literacy & 21st Century Skills – as well as the role of key partners and funding needed to accomplish the Network’s ambitious Vision. An accompanying Implementation Plan outlines how the Network will be governed, managed, funded, and evaluated.

For more information: South King County STEM Network Plan

Municipal Research and Services Center

Strategic Plan

The Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) provides valuable information and advice for Washington local governments. BERK facilitated the work of a Board and staff committee to develop the organization’s first Strategic Plan. The Plan will guide the organization in assisting its customers given new challenges facing local governments and evolving information technologies. The Plan also addresses organizational issues, incorporating the vision of its new Executive Director, outlining needed investments in internal infrastructure, and planning for pending staff retirements. The organization has been energized and focused by the Plan’s new Vision Statement, updated Mission Statement, five Goals and supporting Strategies, and a detailed Implementation Plan to guide Board and staff efforts to realize the ideals captured in the Strategic Plan.

City of Tukwila

Strategic Plan

BERK led the City of Tukwila through a comprehensive, community-focused strategic planning process. The resulting Plan established a new Vision and Mission and guides City and partner efforts aligned to five Goals. A central focus of the planning process and final plan was culturally competent engagement with people of diverse language and cultural backgrounds. In the year following unanimous adoption of the Plan by City Council, BERK facilitated Council and Executive Management Team implementation planning, including the identification of 2013 Priorities and the development of a quarterly progress report to be shared with the community. We also completed strategic planning processes for both Tukwila Fire and the Tukwila Police Department.

Santa Clara County Library Return on Investment Study

Santa Clara County Library Return on Investment Study

NorthWest Ombuds Group

Strategic Planning Retreat Facilitation

BERK led the design and facilitation of a one-day strategic planning retreat for the NorthWest Ombuds Group – a regional cross-sector gathering of practicing Ombuds and interested others from the US northwest and Canada’s western provinces working in a variety of settings.
Ahead of the retreat, we developed and administered a member survey to inform the key questions and discussion items for the retreat. At the retreat, we worked with the group to:

  • Craft a new mission statement
  • Identify new strategic priorities
  • Prioritize actions/opportunities
  • Create a new governance structure

Santa Clara County Library Return on Investment Study

Santa Clara County Library Return on Investment Study

Santa Clara County Library Return on Investment Study

Santa Clara County Library Return on Investment Study

Snohomish County

BERK worked with the housing subcommittee of Snohomish County Tomorrow’s Planning Advisory Committee to develop a report outline, objectives and methods for their Housing Characteristics and Needs Report. This inter-jurisdictional subcommittee is comprised of planners from eight cities and the County and representatives from the nonprofit Housing Consortium. Using our local government knowledge, GMA planning, land use, and housing expertise, and data analysis and facilitation skills, we worked with the subcommittee to identify an approach to assess current and projected housing supply and consider affordable housing within the context of the region.

A primary focus of this project was to help jurisdictions understand the data results and the implications so that they can develop the appropriate policy context and tools through the Housing Element of their Comprehensive Plan update. We developed an Excel-based tool and delivered a training to planning staff.

Snohomish County

Snohomish County Housing and Characteristics Needs Report 2012

BERK worked with the housing subcommittee of Snohomish County Tomorrow’s Planning Advisory Committee to develop a report outline, objectives and methods for their Housing Characteristics and Needs Report. This inter-jurisdictional subcommittee is comprised of planners from eight cities and the County and representatives from the nonprofit Housing Consortium. Using our local government knowledge, GMA planning, land use, and housing expertise, and data analysis and facilitation skills, we worked with the subcommittee to identify an approach to assess current and projected housing supply and consider affordable housing within the context of the region.

A primary focus of this project was to help jurisdictions understand the data results and the implications so that they can develop the appropriate policy context and tools through the Housing Element of their Comprehensive Plan update. We developed an Excel-based tool and delivered a training to planning staff.

City of Seattle

This project began as follow up to policy discussions within the City about how Seattle can achieve quality transit oriented development (TOD) around the Sound Transit stations that are in place and under construction. While Seattle has many land use plans and policies in place to support TOD, the development envisioned has not yet occurred on the ground. BERK worked with the City to develop a new approach to better realize the maximum potential of TOD in locations citywide. BERK conducted best practices review of cities with successful TOD models including Minneapolis, Portland, and Denver. We also developed a toolbox for implementation, which included inventory and analysis of funding tools available to the City. BERK assessed the opportunities and challenges of TOD in three test sites, and recommended next steps for implementation.

City of Seattle

Implementing Transit Oriented Development in Seattle

This project began as follow up to policy discussions within the City about how Seattle can achieve quality transit oriented development (TOD) around the Sound Transit stations that are in place and under construction. While Seattle has many land use plans and policies in place to support TOD, the development envisioned has not yet occurred on the ground. BERK worked with the City to develop a new approach to better realize the maximum potential of TOD in locations citywide. BERK conducted best practices review of cities with successful TOD models including Minneapolis, Portland, and Denver. We also developed a toolbox for implementation, which included inventory and analysis of funding tools available to the City. BERK assessed the opportunities and challenges of TOD in three test sites, and recommended next steps for implementation.

State Auditor’s Office

BERK, in collaboration with the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), conducted a performance audit of the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Program (DD Program). The audit explored two primary questions: (1) Does Washington’s DD Program provide effective services and supports for people with developmental disabilities? and (2) What steps could the State take to improve its ability to provide effective services and supports for people with developmental disabilities? This comprehensive audit involved quantitative data collection and analysis, and stakeholder engagement, including interviews and focus groups. Recommendations focused on opportunities to make the Program more equitable by serving more people and improving the service provided through changes in policy and practice.

State Auditor’s Office

Developmental Disabilities in Washington Performance Audit

BERK, in collaboration with the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), conducted a performance audit of the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Program (DD Program). The audit explored two primary questions: (1) Does Washington’s DD Program provide effective services and supports for people with developmental disabilities? and (2) What steps could the State take to improve its ability to provide effective services and supports for people with developmental disabilities? This comprehensive audit involved quantitative data collection and analysis, and stakeholder engagement, including interviews and focus groups. Recommendations focused on opportunities to make the Program more equitable by serving more people and improving the service provided through changes in policy and practice.

King County Housing Authority

BERK is helping the King County Housing Authority (KCHA) coordinate the comprehensive provision of housing, academic, and social service supports to its resident families. The goal of the Initiative is to help children and youth to overcome the existing educational achievement gap and be better positioned for success in school and later in life. This coordination of services is specific to the demographic makeup and needs of the population living within defined catchment areas surrounding multiple KCHA properties.

White Center. BERK is leading demographic and academic data collection and analysis and facilitating the development of a coordinated action plan between schools and community-based partners.

Kent East Hill. BERK designed and implemented outreach and learning engagement strategies to connect with and better understand the needs and desires of the diverse populations that live within the Kent East Hill area, including many immigrant and refugee families.

Bellevue. Following demographic and academic data collection and analysis, BERK will share the results with the school district and community partners. We will then develop and implement action strategies to improve the educational outcomes of the children living in subsidized housing

King County Housing Authority

Education Initiative

BERK is helping the King County Housing Authority (KCHA) coordinate the comprehensive provision of housing, academic, and social service supports to its resident families. The goal of the Initiative is to help children and youth to overcome the existing educational achievement gap and be better positioned for success in school and later in life. This coordination of services is specific to the demographic makeup and needs of the population living within defined catchment areas surrounding multiple KCHA properties.

BERK is working on separate projects in the White Center, Kent East Hill and Bellevue catchment areas.

City of Renton

While with ICF and continuing at BERK, Lisa Grueter served as the EIS lead to produce a site specific analysis of the Sunset Terrace property redevelopment and a programmatic analysis of a larger neighborhood planned action area for the City of Renton and Renton Housing Authority. The agencies are proposing revitalization of the Sunset Area Community through redevelopment of the Sunset Terrace public housing complex and vicinity, Sunset Boulevard improvements, a drainage master plan, a new library, park improvements, and water and sewer improvements. These proposals, together with anticipated private neighborhood investment, were studied in the EIS completed in June 2011. Lisa was responsible for the overall document contents and prepared the alternatives description and a planned action ordinance as well as a record of decision. Lisa coordinated the work of multiple authors at ICF and other firms. This project was awarded the 2013 Smart Communities Award by Governor Jay Inslee.

Santa Clara County Library Return on Investment Study

Santa Clara County Library Return on Investment Study

North Olympia Library System Expansion Study

Tashiya Gunesekera

Tashiya is an Associate who works on strategic planning and land use planning projects. She has experience working in subject areas such as emergency management, early learning, public health, and Coalition building for archives, library, and museum organizations across the United States. Tashiya has conducted several public service analyses of Washington counties and cities for Comprehensive Plan Updates and Environmental Impact Statements. Prior to joining BERK, Tashiya spent two years working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Rwanda where she established and developed multiple projects focused on promoting fluent English language acquisition and initiating sustainable development for women and youth. Tashiya graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in English and a minor in International Relations. She is conversational in Spanish and Sinhala.

City of Tukwila Strategic Plan

Kevin Gifford

Kevin is a Senior Associate specializing in GIS analysis with a background in land use, environmental, and community planning. He specializes in assisting local governments with comprehensive land use plans, shoreline master programs, urban design guidelines, and environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act. His skills also include spatial analysis and visualization using a variety of software, including ArcGIS. Kevin has worked with local governments throughout the Puget Sound region to establish plans and policies that will guide future development in a manner that is environmentally sustainable and community-oriented. Prior to joining BERK in 2013, Kevin worked as a land use planner and GIS Analyst at AHBL, Inc. and ICF International. Kevin holds a Master of Urban Planning and a Bachelor of Environmental Design, cum laude, from Texas A&M University.

City of Covington

In the first phase, BERK provided a comprehensive analysis of market conditions, citywide employment and residential land capacity, public services, SEPA compliance options, and fiscal conditions to help answer several questions: 1) Can the City justify inclusion of the “northern notch” in the UGA? 2) Is the Northern Gateway Area suitable for urban development? 3) Is there market demand for various land uses? 4) Would annexation and development be beneficial to the City’s fiscal position?

A subarea plan and Planned Action EIS are now underway for a portion of the Gateway called the Hawk Property in a second phase of study. This location in the City limits and UGA will provide a secondary center for the City and bring added jobs and a range of housing choices to the community.

City of Covington

Northern Gateway Study and Hawk Property Subarea Plan and Planned Action EIS

BERK provided a comprehensive analysis of market conditions, citywide employment and residential land capacity, public services, SEPA compliance options, and fiscal conditions for Covington’s Northern Gateway. BERK helped develop a subarea plan and Planned Action EIS for a portion of the Gateway called the Hawk Property. BERK supported public outreach efforts, including community workshops and meetings and prepared accessible handouts about the SEPA process and planned actions. The development project facilitates a mix of residential and commercial uses and major transportation, trail, and open space investments on a reclaimed mine site.

Kitsap County

Kitsap County UGA Sizing and Composition Remand 2012

The project examined how to reduce or reconfigure approximately eight urban growth areas (UGAs) to meet a decision by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board (CPSGMHB). The CPSGMHB required that the County re-examine its UGAs, focusing on two key questions: 1) What is an appropriate minimum urban density in Kitsap County? and 2) What density should Kitsap use when calculating the amount of urban land necessary to accommodate population growth through 2025? BERK prepared a growth trends analysis to help answer these questions. BERK also prepared 2010, 2018, and 2025 countywide (urban and rural) population estimates at small analysis zones to support land use, public service and capital facility planning. BERK managed the preparation of a Supplemental EIS addressing three UGA and land capacity alternatives. BERK led the update to Kitsap County’s Capital Facilities Plan (CFP) addressing a new six-year period, and demonstrated an ability to serve growth through the year 2025 within new UGA boundaries.

WSDOT Road User Charge Study