PUyallup tribe of indians comprehensive plan

Traditional Homelands of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians (Pierce County, WA) / 2022

Project completed while at BERK Consulting


Radhika, Lisa, and Rebecca led the development of the first Comprehensive Plan for the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The Puyallup Tribe, known as the spuyaləpabš in the Lushootseed language, are a federally recognized Coast Salish Tribe on one of the most urban reservations in the United States.

In addition to (1) establishing a shared future vision for the Tribe and its lands, and (2) outlining policies and paths to achieve that vision, their client also sought to build a framework for more sustainable management of the Tribe’s land and properties. 

The final Comprehensive Plan provides an integrated approach to development, including related economic and social issues, with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and climate resilience.


The plan is built on a robust community involvement program that included 12 workshops with an interdepartmental staff guidance team, interviews with stakeholders, surveys and small group discussions with tribal members, and study sessions with the Tribal Council.


The Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ urban location makes it one of the most expensive Reservation areas in the country. Housing affordability is a pervasive challenge, pushing many Tribal households off their traditional homelands.

The Plan includes policy solutions for pragmatic equity considerations related to the high cost of living. Some of these include the need for (1) affordable housing for Tribal members living in an urban reservation, (2) housing choices for Tribal members who face exclusion in the housing market, and (3) ways to meet the needs of those experiencing houselessness.


The Plan highlights opportunities for different departments to work together toward shared goals, as well as a framework for engaging with other municipalities.

As one of the Puyallup Tribe’s key policy documents, the Comprehensive Plan is an important source of information and guidance for jurisdictions whose constituents have an impact on the waters and resources of Puget Sound, its rivers and tributaries. The Plan’s vision framework, goals, and policies describe the Tribe’s values and desired outcomes. Consistency with the Plan will be a factor in the Tribe’s review of development applications.

The Comprehensive Plan is also a resource for those who seek general information about the Puyallup Tribe. The existing conditions report in the appendix consolidates the best available information on baseline conditions across various topics.

Photo credit (top): Julian Close, Field Biologist, Puyallup Tribe Fisheries

We are one of the many Lushootseed speaking peoples of the northwest. Prior to European settlement, our people lived in villages from the foothills of təqʷuʔməʔ, along the rivers, creeks, and prairies, to the shores and islands of the Puget Sound.

Because of the abundance of salmon, shellfish, and other marine resources, historians have often noted that “when the tides were out, the table was set.”
Our people lived in villages throughout the region until the signing of the Medicine Creek Treaty, which forced the relocation of thousands of Native people onto what is now the Puyallup Indian Reservation.
Excerpt from Tribal History chapter
Puyallup Tribe of Indians, 2022

Fish & Wildlife Conservation

Sources: WDFW, 2021; Tacoma, 2021; BERK, 2021.

 Puyallup Tribe Fisheries Impact Area

Sources: PTOI, 2021; BERK, 2022.


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Priority Habitat and Species (PHS) database and GIS data from cities within the Planning Area was used to identify PHS streams (i.e., streams that support priority species), priority habitat, and biodiversity corridors. PHS streams were identified along the Puyallup mainstem, Hylebos, Wapato, and the downstream reaches of the Puyallup tributaries. Priority habitats include buffers along the downstream portion of the Puyallup mainstem and Hylebos Creek, all the delta area streams and Browns Point streams (Dash Point State Park), and the downstream portion of the Puyallup tributary ravine. The buffers along the Puyallup River mainstem and middle reaches of Hylebos Creek are minimal due to adjacent agricultural and industrial land use. The three existing biodiversity corridors along all streams within the Planning Area should be preserved: two near the downstream-most Puyallup tributary ravine stream, which includes McKinley Park in Tacoma, and one on Browns Point.


Median Household Income for the 1873 Survey Area and Pierce County, 2019

Sources: American Community Survey, 5-year estimates, 2010 & 2019; BERK, 2021.

Household Income Brackets for the 1873 Survey Area and Pierce County, 2019

Sources: American Community Survey, 5-year estimates, 2010 & 2019; BERK, 2021.


Residents within the Planning Area have slightly higher median household incomes than the county overall. The 2019 median household income for residents of the Planning Area is $78,526. This is slightly higher than the countywide median, as shown below. The overall distribution across income brackets is similar for Planning Area residents as in Pierce County. The Planning Area has more residents in the highest earning income brackets, however, with 38% of its population earning $100,000 or more annually, compared to 31% countywide. The relative proportions of income brackets represented across Planning Area residents suggests a balance of income groups within the community.

What is low-income? The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) establishes income thresholds that categorize “low-income,” “very low-income,” and “extremely low-income” households. These thresholds are based on household size, shown below. These limits are used in determining a family’s eligibility to participate in certain housing assistance programs. For a family to be eligible for federal housing assistance in Pierce County, the total household income must not exceed these established yearly income limits listed below.

Based on 2019 income estimates, somewhere between 30-50% of Planning Area residents fall into one of HUD’s low-income household categories. These residents are more likely to face challenges balancing household costs such as housing, transportation, healthcare, and education. Residents with lower incomes are likely to be disproportionately affected by lack of affordable housing, accessible services, and amenities. They are also more vulnerable to crises such as the recent COVID pandemic or economic recessions.

HUD-Area Income Thresholds for Low-Income Households in Pierce County, 2021

Sources: Washington State Housing Finance Commission, 2021; BERK, 2021.

Residential Parcels by Housing Type, Puyallup Planning Area, 2021

Sources: Pierce County Assessor, 2021; King County Assessor, 2021; BERK, 2021.

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