Behavioral Health Model Ordinance Project

The Department of Commerce was charged by the Washington State Legislature per ESSB 6168 (2020), Section 127 (27) to develop a model ordinance for cities and counties to utilize for siting community based behavioral health facilities.

Commerce understands this work is necessary to move forward on the statewide project to build behavioral health infrastructure in local communities.

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Final Model Ordinance and Communications Toolkit

With the help of the Advisory Committee, Commerce and BERK Consulting finished the behavioral health model ordinance and communications toolkit in June of 2021. Please click below to access each document.

Commerce and BERK recorded a live webinar on 6/17/21 to provide an overview of what is in each document, and answer questions.  A recording of that webinar is below. 

Project Approach

An important goal of the project was to develop model planning codes that can be tailored to the particular needs and characteristics of communities, while providing for cross-jurisdictional consistency where possible. That is why Commerce sought guidance on the development of the model ordinance by convening a broad-based technical Advisory Committee that included planning experts, providers, community partners, and members from local government stakeholder groups. In addition, BERK Consulting supported the work of building consensus around development scenarios, regulatory guidance and best practices.

Commerce worked collaboratively with the Advisory Committee and BERK to provide useful planning guidance so that local governments can readily update policies and codes to allow siting and development of community-based behavioral healthcare projects.

The Advisory Committee met on a monthly basis beginning in summer 2020 through May 2021 and webinars were conducted throughout the project to inform and educate public audiences about the goals, processes and outcomes of the project. Committee materials and recordings are available directly on this webpage.

Project Background

Under the Governor’s Behavioral Health Transformation Plan, the state made targeted investments to expand behavioral health infrastructure and modernize service delivery with the aim to increase access in local settings. Commerce’s Behavioral Health Facilities Program awards grants to non-profits, public and private entities, and tribes to directly increase behavioral health capacity across a wide range of project types and funding categories. The ability of local governments, developers and providers to site behavioral health projects is critical to the implementation of the Governor’s Plan.