Buildable Lands

Program Overview

Included as a component of the Growth Management Act (GMA) in 1997, the Review and Evaluation Program under RCW 36.70A.215 is often referred to as the Buildable Lands Program. It requires that Clark, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom (as of 2017) Counties and the cities within them complete a Buildable Lands report every eight years. The Buildable Lands reports are a look back at actual development to determine if cities and counties have designated adequate amounts of residential, commercial and industrial lands to meet the growth needs incorporated in their comprehensive plans. With the exception of Whatcom County, Buildable Lands counties have each produced three reports since 1997.

Guidelines for local governments were adopted in 2000 and technical summaries were prepared and issued in 2003 and 2007. In 2017 a number of changes were made to the Review and Evaluation Program through E2SSB 5254 (PDF). With the changes to the Buildable Lands Program, the Legislature appropriated funds to the Department of Commerce to update the existing Buildable Lands guidance, the first comprehensive update to the guidance since 2000. This project involved an analysis of how existing Buildable Lands reports are being performed and engaged a wide array of stakeholders and a diverse steering committee.

With the help of a Consultant Team and a dedicated group of stakeholders, we were able to complete the project by the December 1, 2018 deadline.

The updated Buildable Lands Guidelines (PDF) are now available.

Thank you to: Washington State Affordable Housing Advisory Board (AHAB), Association of Washington Cities (AWC), Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), City of Olympia, City of Poulsbo, City of Seattle, City of Vancouver, Clark County, Department of Ecology, Futurewise, King County, Kitsap County, LDC Inc., Pierce County, PNW Economics, Puget Sound Partnership, Puget Sound Regional Council, Snohomish County, Thurston County, Thurston Regional Planning Council, Washington Realtors Association, Whatcom County, and Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC).

The 2018 Supplemental Operating Budget included funding for counties within the Review and Evaluation Program. These funds, available July 1, 2018 for the grant contracts with the Buildable Lands counties, will be managed by the Growth Management Services Unit.

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

Historical Documents