Evaluating the Washington Growth Management Act

The state law that set urban growth boundaries around the state is in its fourth decade as suburban sprawl expands urban growth boundaries around Washington.

1 minute read

February 4, 2020, 8:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Washington State

Kyle_Graff / Shutterstock

As Snohomish County, Washington weighs an expansion of its urban growth boundary, an article by Ray Dubicki pauses to evaluate the larger question about the effectiveness of the Washington State Growth Management Act.

The inclusion or exclusion of this area is not important in itself. The area is already part of the suburbs, whether or not that is recognized. The larger question is, moving into its fourth decade, what does Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA) actually mean? The erratic boundary around Maltby and glut of sprawl around Bothell shows just how fragile the GMA has become.

The specifics of the issue inspiring this discussion surround the Southwest Urban Growth Area Boundary Planning Study in Snohomish County. The study does not make a recommendation about the expansion of the boundary, but gathers information to inform a decision by county officials.

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