Growth Management

The mission of Growth Management Services (GMS) is to assist and guide local governments, state agencies, and others to manage growth and development, consistent with the Growth Management Act (GMA).

The GMA was adopted to address ways to accommodate growth. It requires that the fastest-growing cities and counties complete comprehensive plans and development regulations to guide future growth. All jurisdictions are required to protect critical environmental areas and conserve natural resource lands, such as farms and forests. The GMA calls for communities to review and, if necessary, revise their plans and regulations every eight years to ensure they remain up-to-date.

Services we provide: Direct Assistance, Grants, Training and Education, Guidebooks, Review of counties and cities proposed GMA implementation actions, State Coordination to facilitate GMA-related state agency activities and services to local governments, Governor’s Smart Communities Awards program.

Growth Management Staff Contact Information and Regional Assistance Map

GMA Fully Planning and Partially Planning Counties Map

Current News

Commerce opens three grant programs. 

* Application materials for activities that increase residential building capacity, streamline regulations, or for developing a housing action plan are available on the GMS Grants web page.  Due September 30 and October 15, 2019.     

* Application materials for projects that promote compatible development near military installations are available on the DCCA web page. Due by Nov. 1, 2019.r

Housing Memo Available
The Department of Commerce has released its Housing Memo: Issues Affecting Housing Availability and Affordability to the public. The Memo addresses barriers to to housing production and affordability in Washington, and provides tools aimed at assisting local governments in improving housing affordability. The Memo was requested by the 2017 Legislature’s E2SSB 5254 as part of an update to the Buildable Lands program, and is relevant to cities and counties statewide.

Governor’s Smart Communities Awards Announced
Governor Inslee: Creativity, collaboration & public engagement: all key to ensuring communities grow responsibly. Congrats to our 13 Smart Communities award winners for their projects that allow people to thrive, economies to prosper & create sustainable infrastructure.

New Housing Laws in 2019.
Several new housing bills passed in the 2019 legislative session. Grant information will be posted on the Growth Management Services (GMS) grants page. Guidance is posted on the GMS housing topic page.

Buildable Lands Guidebook
The updated Buildable Lands Guidebook is now available.  Required by ESSB 5254 in 2017, the updated guidelines were developed to assist local governments with the Review and Evaluation component of the Growth Management Act.  Specifically, the seven most populous Western Washington counties are required to prepare Buildable Lands Reports to inform upcoming Comprehensive Plan updates.

Critical Areas Handbook
The Department of Commerce has updated the Critical Areas Handbook. This update covers a wide range of topics and local government case studies. Read more

Multi-Unit Housing Tax Exemption Form – Go to this page to download the form

Contact Us

Dave Andersen, AICP
Managing Director

Email Updates
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GMA Periodic Update Information

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Every county and city in the state is required to conduct a periodic update. Available resources: Guidebook, Update Schedule, Checklists for Counties and Cities.

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Short Course on Local Planning

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Short Course Schedule, Guidebook, Training for Open Public Meetings Act, Short Course Video

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Regional Planners' Forums

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For planners, planning commissioners, elected officials, and community members to learn about an array of timely and relevant planning subjects, receive updates from state and federal agencies on land use issues.

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Submitting Materials to State for Review

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Each county and city planning under GMA is required to notify Commerce when adopting or permanently amending its comprehensive plans and/or development regulations.

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