Growth Management Resources

The Growth Management Act (GMA) comprehensive land use plans as well as the implementing regulations are subject to periodic updates.  These plans and regulations impact how our communities are anticipated to grow and evolve over the years—the location of areas for jobs and housing, parks and natural areas, and transportation and utility corridors.  Over the next few years, Washington counties and cities, fully or partially planning under the Growth Management Act, will be reviewing their comprehensive policy plans and implementing regulations for needed updates.  These plans and development regulations can have a tremendous impact on the real estate industry.  For this reason, the following resources are provided to help in understanding and participating in the comprehensive plan updates in your community:
Central Puget Sound Region

30 Years of Growth Management

New Report Available! This paper reviews growth and change that the region has experienced since 1990, the degree to which the broad goals of the 1990 plan have been realized, and the intended and unintended consequences of land use and other decisions that have been based on those planning concepts.

Commerce Housing Resources Website

Housing Guidebooks 

Commerce has prepared the following guidebooks to assist local governments in the development of updates to comprehensive plans. Reviewing these guide books can assist REALTORS® better understand what local governments are doing when the terms” Housing Element, ““Housing Action Plan,” and “Housing Needs Assessment” show up on agendas for county or city councils and planning commissions. 



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RCW 36.70A.610 directs the Washington Center for Real Estate Research to provide easy access to housing data for local governments in Washington.  The Housing Market Data Toolkit provides data for all cities over 10,000 population, and for all counties in the state.  This data can be used as a source of information during the preparation of housing needs assessments, developed as part of local comprehensive plans. 

A Peninsula Planners’ Forum on February 22, 2021 shared more information about the housing data and how to use it to understand your community’s housing market. The webinar recording can be accessed here, with information on the Housing Market Data Toolkit starting at 1:16:00 and information on how to use this and other data to determine your community’s housing needs starting at 2:27:10. The PowerPoint presentations for the webinar can be found on the Regional Planners’ Forum webpage, under the “Past Regional Planning Forums” heading.

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Find all the Short Courses Here:

The Commerce Short Course Resources provide an overview of the land use planning laws that support land-use decision-making in Washington state. 

Guidebook on Land Use Planning 
Study Guide On Land Use Planning – Condensed Version of Guidebook

Find all the Short Course links to videos listed below here:



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
A Short Course on Housing Affordability, April 14, 2020 (Hosted by the City of Dayton)

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

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
Click here for additional short course resources


The Short Course on Local Planning is offered as a free three-hour workshop that is open to the public. These courses are hosted by cities and counties. The Commerce Short Course website provides options for viewing a workshop via Zoom. See dates and times of sessions and Register.  Here

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