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 ten 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.

News and Updates

  • 2024 Periodic Updates: Grant information is now available for jurisdictions starting their periodic updates. You can learn more about it by visiting our GMS Grant’s page.
  • WAC Update: Growth Management Services is reviewing and updating the administrative rules for the Growth Management Act. For more information visit our EZ View site: Growth Management Act WAC Update
  • Low Impact Development: The Washington State Department of Commerce’s guidebook, Incentivizing Low Impact Development (LID) Beyond Permit Requirements, presents ways that local governments can incentivize developers to voluntarily incorporate LID on projects in urban growth centers. Learn more information on Watershed Grants.

GMS Projects

Collaborative Framework Phase III

The Collaborative Framework Phase III project builds upon the findings, concepts and recommendations in recent state-funded reports to make recommendations to the Legislature on reforms to the state's growth policy framework.

During this phase of work, the project Task Force will make recommendations the Legislature prior to the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions. Task Force participants represent a broad range of perspectives. Project engagement will also include a special focus on Federally recognized Indian tribes and the lived experiences and perspectives of people and communities who have too often been excluded from public policy decision-making and who are unevenly impacted by those decisions.

Image of the Bellingham area

GMA Periodic Update Information

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

GMA Periodic Update Information

Students listen to an instructor in a classroom

Short Course on Local Planning

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

Short Course on Local Planning

Planners' forum meeting in Washington

Regional Planners' Forums

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.

Regional Planners' Forums

Washington state capitol building

Submitting Materials to State for Review

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

Submitting Materials to State for Review