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

Buildable Lands Guidebook
The draft Buildable Lands Guidebook second edition is now available for comment.

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

Buildable Lands Update
The passage of ESSB 5254 in 2017 requires the Department of Commerce select a consultant to update the guidance for local governments on the Buildable Lands Review and Evaluation program in light of changes to the law, RCW 36.70A.215.
Read more…

Notice of Decision-Ferry County Compliance Determination
Read more…

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

Contact Us

Mark McCaskill, AICP
Managing Director
mark.mccaskill@commerce.wa.gov
(360) 725-3055

Email Updates
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GMA Periodic Update Information

Image of the Bellingham area

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

Planners' forum meeting in Washington

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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