Planning under the growth management act
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Planning under the Growth Management Act. Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development Growth Management Program. Goals of the Growth Management Act. Urban Growth Reduce Sprawl Transportation Housing Economic Development. Goals of the Growth Management Act.

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Planning under the Growth Management Act

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Planning under the Growth Management Act

Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development

Growth Management Program

Goals of the Growth Management Act

Urban Growth

Reduce Sprawl





Goals of the Growth Management Act

  • Property Rights

  • Permits

  • Natural Resource Industries

  • Open Space and Recreation

  • Environment

Goals of the Growth Management Act

  • Citizen Participation

  • Public Facilities and Services

  • Historic Preservation

  • Shoreline Management

Balancing the goals

The GMA applies to all cities and counties in the state

Critical areas:


fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas

aquifer recharge areas

frequently flooded areas

geologically hazardous areas

Natural Resource Lands:

forest lands

agricultural lands

mineral lands

Classification, designation and protection/conservation:

GMA Requirements for fully planning communities

Multi-county planning policies

(King, Pierce, Kitsap, Snohomish)

County-wide planning policies

Comprehensive plan



Project review

Coordination -Countywide Planning Policies

Policy framework for local plans to:

  • Designate urban growth areas

  • Site county-wide or state-wide facilities

  • Consider need for affordable housing

  • Jointly plan within urban growth areas

  • Plan for economic development

Designation of Urban Growth Areas (UGAs)

  • Population allocation

  • Land capacity analysis

  • Provision for adequate public facilities and services

Comprehensive Plans

Mandatory Elements

  • Land Use

  • Housing

  • Capital Facilities

  • Transportation

  • Utilities

  • Rural (counties only)

  • Shoreline Master Program (policies)


plats and subdivisions


critical areas

impact fees

stormwater regulations

anything implementing the plan policies

shoreline master program (regulations)

Development Regulations to Implement the Plan


  • Internal plan consistency

  • Activities and capital budget decisions

  • Development regulation consistency with the plan

  • Project consistency with the plan and regulations

Project ConsistencyRCW 36.70B.030 and 040

  • Type of land use

  • Level of development

  • Infrastructure

  • Character of development

No appeal of land use, residential densities in UGAs, or infrastructure, if consistent

Growth Management Hearings Boards

  • Three regional hearings boards

  • Review plans and regulations, including SMPs, not projects

  • Review population projections

  • Plans and regulations presumed valid

Update Requirements

  • Not later than stated deadlines, counties and cities must take action to review and, if needed revise plans and regulations to ensure compliance with GMA.

  • At a minimum, must include CAOs and population allocations

Comprehensive Plan and Regulation amendments

Comprehensive plans only amended once a year except:

  • Adoption of subarea plan

  • Adoption/amendment of SMP

  • Amendment of capital facilities plan with budget

  • Amendment to resolve hearings board appeal

  • Emergency amendments

    Development regulations amended any time, provided they are consistent with the comprehensive plan

    Docket deficiencies noted during project review

GMA land use planning: An ongoing process

  • Regional policies

  • Local comp plans

  • Development regulations

  • Permits/ enforcement

  • Capital facility plans

  • Plan implementation – e.g. subarea or neighborhood plans

  • Citizen involvement/education

  • Incentives

  • Monitoring

Early and Continuous Public Participation

Public participation program:

  • notice requirements

  • public meetings

  • workshops

  • citizen advisory committees

  • public hearings

  • opportunities for written comment

Key Issues Around Salmon Recovery and Growth

  • Accommodation of population/density

  • Regulatory impact on affordability of housing

  • Water availability for people and fish

  • Pressure to streamline the permit process

  • What is best available science (BAS)?

  • Applicability of BAS in riparian areas

Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development

Growth Management Program

(360) 725-3000

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