MODULE-7 State of Washington - Planning Tools

Introduction

In response to exponential growth between 1960 and 1990 (41% increase in state population) Washington State enacted a Growth Management Act (GMA) in 1990. The GMA authorizes local governments to manage growth from "the bottom up" by requiring them to develop comprehensive plans and development regulations that direct growth in a way that protects water quality, critical natural areas, and community character on a local, regional, and landscape scale. By empowering localities to plan and manage growth in their communities, land use regulations are tailored to the specific community needs, rather than providing a one-size-fits-all solution to complex environmental and economic issues.

The following report "Local Land Use Authority in Washington State" outlines the authority of local governments in Washington to regulate land use by applying a number of traditional and innovative land use management tools to achieve water resource protection and smart growth communities. The report provides an overview of Washington's local planning process as it relates to water resource protection, focusing on: local government agencies involved, enabling state regulations, three State Acts that guide local water resource protection, and innovative local land use techniques being used by some Washington communities to achieve smart growth and water resource protection. It also highlights the dynamic partnerships that are encouraged through a local-level approach to land use management, often bringing state, county, local and sometimes federal agencies together to develop creative water resource protection strategies.

Local Land Use Authority in Washington State