Washington State
House of Representatives
Office of Program Research
Housing Committee
HB 1026
Brief Description: Concerning local government design review.
Sponsors: Representatives Walen, Duerr, Bateman, Reed, Fitzgibbon, Ramel and Peterson.
Brief Summary of Bill
  • Requires any design review of housing development permit applications to be conducted administratively by local government employees.
Hearing Date: 1/10/23
Staff: Serena Dolly (786-7150).

Growth Management Act.

The Growth Management Act (GMA) is the comprehensive land use planning framework for counties and cities in Washington.  The GMA establishes land use designation and environmental protection requirements for all Washington counties and cities.  The GMA also establishes a significantly wider 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 said to be "fully planning" under the GMA.

The GMA directs fully planning jurisdictions to adopt internally consistent comprehensive land use plans that are generalized, coordinated land use policy statements of the governing body.  Comprehensive plans are implemented through locally adopted development regulations, and both the plans and the local regulations are subject to review and revision requirements prescribed in the GMA.  In developing their comprehensive plans, counties and cities must consider various goals set forth in statute.

Cities and counties that do not fully plan under the GMA may, under the state's optional planning statutes, adopt comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, and other official controls regulating land uses within their boundaries. 


Design Review.

Design review is a formally adopted local government process by which projects are reviewed for compliance with design standards for the type of use adopted through local ordinance.  Design review focuses on the appearance of new construction, site planning, and items such as landscaping, signage, and other aesthetic issues.

A design element is an optional element of a comprehensive plan, and many jurisdictions have included design elements in their comprehensive plans.

Some jurisdictions have created design review boards to evaluate projects.  The boards may include volunteers with backgrounds in architecture, urban design, and planning.  Other jurisdictions rely on staff to conduct an administrative review of designs or employ a hybrid process, in which some project designs are approved administratively, and others are approved by a design review board.

Summary of Bill:

A GMA planning jurisdiction may only require an administrative design review to determine compliance of a housing development permit application with design standards.  The administrative design review must be solely conducted by local government employees without either a public meeting or review by an external board.

Appropriation: None.
Fiscal Note: Not requested.
Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.