Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Local Government Committee

HB 1690

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning short subdivisions.

Sponsors: Representatives Walen, Goehner and Springer.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Allows jurisdictions planning under the Growth Management Act to create short subdivisions of up to nine lots.

  • Allows jurisdictions planning under the Growth Management Act, by ordinance, to create short subdivisions of up to 30 lots within any urban growth area.

Hearing Date: 2/12/19

Staff: Robbi Kesler (786-7153).


Growth Management Act.

The Growth Management Act (GMA) is the comprehensive land use planning framework for counties and cities in Washington. The GMA sets forth three broad planning obligations for those counties and cities who plan fully under the GMA:

Urban Growth Areas.

Counties that fully plan under the GMA must designate UGAs, areas within which urban growth must be encouraged and outside of which growth may occur only if it is not urban in nature. Planning jurisdictions must include within their UGAs sufficient areas and densities to accommodate projected urban growth for the succeeding 20-year period. In addition, cities must include sufficient areas to accommodate the broad range of needs and uses that will accompany the projected urban growth, including, as appropriate, medical, governmental, institutional, commercial, service, retail, and other nonresidential uses.

Subdivision/Plat Approval.

Generally, in counties, cities, and towns, an established planning commission or agency must review all preliminary plats and make recommendations to the county, city, or town legislative body to ensure conformance of the proposed subdivision to the relevant comprehensive plan. Recommendations must be submitted to the legislative body within 14 days following action by a hearing body.

The legislative body must review recommendations during its next public meeting and may approve or reject the recommendations based on the record established at the hearing. If the legislative body deems a change to the planning commission or agency's recommendations, the legislative body must adopt its own recommendations and approve or disapprove of the preliminary plat. County, city, and town legislative bodies hold sole authority to adopt or amend platting ordinances.

If a county, city, or town legislative body finds that a subdivision proposed for final plat approval conforms to all terms of the preliminary plat approval and all other applicable laws, the legislative body must execute written approval on the face of the plat. A county, city, or town legislative body may by ordinance delegate final plat approval to an established planning commission or agency or other administrative personnel in accord with state law and local charter. A county auditor must refuse to accept any plat for filing until the appropriate legislative body has approved the plat.

Summary of Bill:

Jurisdictions not planning under the GMA may now by local ordinance increase the number of lots, tracts, or parcels to nine. Without a local ordinance short subdivisions will remain defined as the division of land into four or fewer lots.

Jurisdictions planning under the GMA may create short subdivisions of up to nine lots, tracts, or parcels, and, by ordinance, increase the number to 30 within a UGA.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Requested on February 7, 2019.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.