The Short Course on Local Planning includes:

  • An overview of the complex mix of land use planning laws that work together to support land-use decision-making in Washington state,
  • An introduction to comprehensive planning and plan implementation under the Growth Management Act,
  • A review of the roles in planning and best practices for public participation, and
  • Mandatory training on the Open Public Meetings Act for local government officials.


    All courses are offered at no charge and are open to the public.

2020 Short Courses

Due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus, all in-person Short Courses are cancelled until further notice. Those wishing to take the Short Course on Local Planning are invited to view the videos below. You can download a certificate of completion and call the short course coordinator if you have any questions about content.

To Register for On-line Courses:
Please send an email with your name, organization, title (if applicable) and the date of the short course you wish to attend to shortcourse@commerce.wa.gov or calling (360) 259-5216. Registrants will receive an emailed link to a Zoom meeting and a copy of the handouts. There is no cost to attend the Short Course.

Short Course on Local Planning for Jurisdictions Partially Planning under the GMA.  Hosted by the Town of Reardan.Thursday, October 8, 2020: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Regular Short Course on Local Planning in conjunction with the Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association virtual conference. Agenda. Presentation Slides.Wednesday, October 14, 2020: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Regular Short Course on Local Planning, hosted by the Department of Commerce. Thursday, December 3, 2020: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

2019 Short Course Report

We presented 20 short courses in 2019, serving more than 650 attendees including four courses on housing affordability and one on multimodal transportation/. See our 2019 Annual Report for more details.

Read the Guidebook

Watch the Videos

New Basic Short Course Videos
Introduction to the Short Course. 5 minutes
Comprehensive Planning Basics. 11 minutes
Implementing Your Plan. 10 minutes
Updating Your Plan. 10 minutes
Washington’s Legal Framework for Land Use Planning. 7 minutes
Constitutional Issues and Other Protections. 8 minutes
Roles and Responsibilities in Planning. 7 minutes
Public Participation and Effective Meetings. 7 minutes
Open Public Meetings Act. 27 minutes     OPMA Certificate
Appearance of Fairness Doctrine. 17 minutes

Short Course Video Study Guide
Get credit for taking the Short Course!

A Short Course on Housing Affordability, April 14, 2020 
Hosted by the City of Dayton
Also watch the July 2020 Housing Action Plan guidance webinar.

Information for Elected and Appointed Officials
New to the Planning Commission? FAQ
Effective Meetings for Elected and Appointed Officials

A Basic Short Course on Local Planning – Recorded at Marysville, 1/25/2012
Short Course 1: Basic Introduction. 4 minutes
Short Course 2: Legal Presentation. 78 minutes
Short Course 3: Comprehensive Planning. 28 minutes
Short Course 4: Planning Roles and Citizen Participation. 42 minutes

Special Topic Short Course Videos

Infill Development for Small Cities – Recorded at Tumwater City Hall, 5/28/2014
Infill Development 1: Infill Development and the Big Picture. 21 minutes
Infill Development 2: Regulatory Tools for Infill Development. 31 minutes
Infill Development 3: Incentives for Infill Development. 31 minutes
Infill Development 4: Local Examples of Infill Planning and Development from the Cities of Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey. 51 minutes
Infill Development 5: Local Infill Development Projects. 18 minutes

Sustainable Development
– Recorded at Lacey City Hall, 11/12/2013
Sustainable Development 1: An introduction to the short course and the reasons planning for sustainable communities is important. 20 minutes
Sustainable Development 2: An overview of the development of the Sustainable Thurston regional plan    including presentations from local government officials and other entities on implementing the plan. 74 minutes
Sustainable Development 3: Examples from two cities on their plans for sustainability. This segment features speakers from Mountlake Terrace and Redmond. 38 minutes

Economic Development
9/18/2020 – Recorded by the Planning Association of Washington
AgendaSlides, Recording (forthcoming)

3/14/2013 – Recorded at Fife Dacca Barn
Economic Development 1: An introduction to the short course. 2 minutes
Economic Development 2: Innovative ideas for economic development. 41 minutes
Economic Development 3: Legal primer on planning and development in Washington. 43 minutes
Economic Development 4: The New Economy and implications for community planning. 30 minutes

Urban Forestry – Recorded at Western Washington University, 11/28/2012
Urban Forestry 1: An introduction to the short course. 4 minutes
Urban Forestry 2: The process and basics of comprehensive planning. 19 minutes
Urban Forestry 3: Benefits of trees, current regulations, and programs. 35 minutes
Urban Forestry 4: Installation, maintenance, and program management. 41 minutes
Urban Forestry 5: Integrating urban forestry with comprehensive planning. 11 minutes