Before developing land, a developer must obtain permits from the local government that allow the development. These permits can include land use permits, environmental permits, building permits, and others, and are known as project permits. All counties and cities are required to combine the environmental review process with the project permit review process.
The Growth Management Act (GMA) is the comprehensive land use planning framework for counties and cities in Washington. The GMA establishes a wide array of planning duties for 28 counties, and the cities within those counties, that are obligated to satisfy all planning requirements of the GMA. These jurisdictions are sometimes referred to as fully planning under the GMA.
When a fully planning county or city is reviewing a project, its comprehensive plan and development regulations must serve as the basis for the project permit review. In determining if a proposed project is consistent with the comprehensive plan and development regulations, the county or city must consider the type of land use, the level of development or density proposed, and the availability of infrastructure needed to service the development.
Fully planning counties and cities must comply with additional project permit processing requirements, including establishing an integrated or consolidated permit process that:
Counties and cities that do not plan under the GMA may choose to incorporate some or all of the integrated or consolidated permit process into their permitting processes.
All counties and cities may adopt development regulations that create a simple, low cost, expedited permit process for development of single-family, duplex, triplex, or accessory dwelling housing units with less than 1,801 square feet per unit for property within cities or urban growth areas designated for residential housing.
The expedited permit process should:
Counties and cities that adopt an expedited permitting process must count the number of housing units built under the expedited process and report the amount to the Department of Commerce (Commerce) by March 30th of the following year. The report must include all housing units completed for occupancy from January 1st to December 31st.
By June 30th of the year the data is provided, Commerce must post a report on its website detailing the total number of housing units built as reported by counties and cities. The website must be updated at least annually with the most recent information.