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.

GMS News

image of a quote form Gov Inslee with a photo of hot air balloons

Nominations open for 2023 Governor’s Smart Communities Awards

Annual awards program celebrates excellence in planning for future growth, livable communities Olympia, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce is seeking nominations for the 17th annual Governor’s Smart Communities Awards, a program that recognizes outstanding work by local governments and their partners on community planning and development. For almost 20 years, this program has celebrated the accomplishments of local communities that make Washington state an extraordinary place to

Picture of diagrams, calculator and hands of people working

Cost Study – Growth Management Act

In response to a 2022 legislative request, Commerce recently completed a Planning Cost Study focused on the Growth Management Act. Developed and implemented by Community Attributes Inc. (CAI) and Land Development Consultants (LDC), the study combines a cost survey distributed to cities and counties around our state and a series of in-depth interviews on technical assistance. We encourage you to read the full report (PDF).  While costs varied heavily with

Artist rendering of a downtown block proposed in Airway Heights

Washington state will need more than 1 million homes in next 20 years

More than half of the homes are needed for residents at the lowest income levels OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce today released its final housing needs projections, which show the state needs to add 1.1 million homes over the next 20 years, and more than half of them need to be affordable for residents at the lowest income levels. Based on census data and the Office

Picture of managing director presenting to an audience in Clark County.

Commerce is getting the word out on comprehensive planning

In late January, Clark County invited the managing director of Growth Management Services, Dave Andersen, to their comprehensive plan update kick-off meeting. Check out Dave’s 40-minute presentation on what to expect, and what to focus on as Clark County takes a look at the next 20 years of community development. Some of the topics covered in the video are: Changes in law concerning housing The updated comprehensive planning schedule How

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.

GMS Programs

Map of Washington Counties organized by update years

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