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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Project Approach

An important goal of the project is 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 is seeking guidance on the development of the model ordinance by convening a broad-based technical Advisory Committee that includes planning experts, providers, community partners, and members from local government stakeholder groups. In addition, a consultant will support the work of building consensus around development scenarios, regulatory guidance and best practices.

Commerce will work collaboratively with the Advisory Committee and the consultant 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 will meet on a monthly basis beginning in summer 2020 through spring 2021. Webinars will be conducted throughout the project to inform and educate public audiences about the goals, processes and outcomes of the project. All meetings, communications and outreach activities will be conducted online using videoconferencing software, unless circumstances with COVID-19 change significantly. Committee materials and recordings will be made available directly on this webpage.

Draft Model Ordinance Available for Public Comment until April 26

Commerce is pleased to share the draft model ordinance and guidance to facilitate siting of community-based behavioral health treatment facilities. The draft document along with the comment form can be accessed at this link. All comments must be submitted by April 26, 2021.

On March 25th from 11am – 12pm, Commerce and BERK Consulting hosted a webinar to provide an overview of the rationale and approach to the ordinance, and also took questions. This webinar was recorded and is available for viewing (please see above). The purpose of the 40 minute video is to provide additional information about the ordinance, and its intended use, for individuals who wish to give feedback.

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.

How can I get more information about the project?

Contact Matt Mazur-Hart, Behavioral Health and Early Learning Section Manager, at