Final guidance to address racially disparate impacts in comprehensive plans

The Washington State Department of Commerce has released its final guidance to address racially disparate impacts in comprehensive plans. The new guidance provides a recommended methodology and checklists to help jurisdictions demonstrate that they have taken the steps to satisfy the new Growth Mangement Act (GMA) requirements in RCW 36.70A.070(2)(e-h).

In 2021, the Washington State Legislature changed the planning requirements for housing through House Bill 1220 (HB 1220) (PDF). These updates require jurisdictions address policies, programs and zoning that may have a racially disparate or exclusionary effect and address patterns of disinvestment. Local governments must also identify displacement risk and establish policies to prevent displacement or reduce the hardships caused by displacement.

Commerce engaged an advisory work group to develop the recommended methodology and create this guidance for the implementation of the racially disparate impacts portion of the housing element requirements. The work group included local planners from across the state representing diverse planning contexts and planners with direct experience identifying racially disparate impacts and displacement risk. In addition to engaging local planners, the project team consulted with key experts including representatives of stakeholder organizations, regional planning bodies, affordable and fair housing advocates, and technical experts.

To learn more, please visit the Commerce webpage on updating GMA housing elements. Commerce recorded a webinar on this guidance material in December 2022. For questions on this material, please contact Laura Hodgson at

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