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 respondents, we believe it’s a good step to take in identifying the needs our local governments have in complying with the Growth Management Act. A summary of findings includes the following:

  • Among costs associated with various planning aspects under GMA, complex comprehensive plan updates and new comprehensive plan elements have the highest costs for both cities and counties, with higher costs for counties.
  • For cities, updates to a Shoreline Master Program had the third highest costs among all project types, while for counties, updates to a Critical Areas Ordinance ranked third.
  • Cities and counties differed on which projects cost the least, with counties indicating that a minor comprehensive plan update has the lowest average cost, and cities indicating that a new development regulation had the lowest average.
  • Reported costs varied highly by jurisdiction, and while total costs were generally lower for smaller jurisdictions, the cost per capita was generally higher.
  • The survey also shared a high need for third party technical assistance and more model codes and ordinances.

While we all know how important planning can be, this sort of feedback offers a critical step in our ability to strengthen local communities. Commerce is eager to leverage these results moving forward and would like to remind you that periodic update funding is currently available. Check out our Growth Management Grant’s page for more information on available funding.

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