The Short Course on Local Planning is a three-hour workshop covering:

  • 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

A Short Course on Local Planning
Hosted by the Cities of Richland and Pasco
Richland City Hall
625 Swift Boulevard
Richland, WA 99352
Thursday, March 5, 2020
6:15 – 9:15 p.m.
A Short Course on Local Planning
Hosted by the Cities of Cle Elum and Ellensburg
Cle Elum City Hall
119 West First Street
Cle Elum, WA 98922
Thursday, March 19, 2020
6:15 – 9:15 p.m.
A Short Course on Local Planning
Hosted by the Cities of Spokane Valley, Airway Heights and Spokane
Spokane Valley City Hall
10210 East Sprague Avenue
Spokane Valley, WA 99206
Thursday, April 16, 2020
6:15 – 9:15 p.m.

Call for Short Course Requests

We presented more than 20 short courses in 2018, serving more than 500 attendees including two tribal courses and one special short course on affordable housing. See our 2019 Annual Report.

Commerce is now taking requests for courses in the Spring of 2020. Requests must come from a city, county, or tribe. Please give us at least six weeks to set up and advertise the course. Please email requests to


Please send an email with your name, organization, title (if applicable) and the location of the short course you wish to attend to or calling (360) 725-3064. Please register if you would like to receive an emailed copy of the handouts. All will be welcome at the event. There is no cost to attend the Short Course.

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 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 – Recorded at Fife Dacca Barn, 03/14/2013
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