Comprehensive Update to Washington State's Growth Management Act Expected in 2021

Effective planning processes offer immense financial savings, and there's never been a more pressing need for both. The state of Washington is setting out to prove the planning dividend.

2 minute read

December 23, 2020, 8:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Beautiful Spokane, Washington. | Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

Washington State legislators are expected to consider an update the state's landmark Growth Management Act (GMA) for the first time since its adoption 30 years ago.

Ray Dubicki provides insight about what to expect from the process during what is expected to be a tense and consequential legislative session, with crises of public health and fiscal solvency headlining the session.

According to Dubicki, however, the state has been at working preparing for the GMA update for years already, including a technical effort underway for several years to identify gaps in the GMA." A group of stakeholders and active GMA users highlighted issues with the Act. Now they are bringing legislation to this constrained session that will fundamentally change the way planning, growth, and conservation function in Washington," according to Dubicki.

The background work led to a request from state legislators to pursue a comprehensive overhaul of the GMA, rather than a steady stream of incremental changes. A report called "A Road Map to Washington's Future" was published in June 2019 and is in the process of being translated into legislation.

With this background in hand, Dubicki points out a couple of areas where the GMA update could fundamentally change the interaction between the state and local governments on matters of planning. The article includes a lot more detail on the concepts of safe harbor, net ecological gain, and adaptive planning as informative of the larger mission of the GMA update.

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