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 obligated to satisfy all planning requirements of the GMA. These jurisdictions are sometimes said to be fully planning under the GMA.
The GMA also directs fully planning jurisdictions to adopt internally consistent comprehensive land use plans. 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. Comprehensive plans must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised every ten years to ensure that it complies with the GMA. When developing their comprehensive plans, counties and cities must consider various goals set forth in statute.
Each comprehensive plan must include a plan, scheme, or design for certain enumerated elements, including mandatory land use and housing elements. The housing element must ensure the vitality and character of established residential neighborhoods and among other requirements consider the role of accessory dwelling units in meeting housing needs.
Increased Residential Building Capacity. Cities planning fully under the GMA are encouraged to take two or more of the following actions to increase residential building capacity:
Cities fully planning under the GMA must adopt or amend their development regulations, zoning regulations, or other official controls prior to July 1, 2024, to allow for splitting residential lots under certain conditions. When regulating lot splitting, such cities may not:
Beginning July 1, 2024, the requirements of this act apply and take effect in any city that has not adopted or amended their development regulations, zoning regulations, or other official controls and supersede, preempt, and invalidate any conflicting local development regulations.
The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. PRO: This bill has 2 key benefits. It gives existing owners a chance to stay in their communities and provides the potential to build more starter homes by selling off the back part of their lot. Lot splitting will increase accessibility for homeownership, especially for first time home buyers. Current land use codes make housing limited and prices too high. This bill will provide the flexibility needed to allow for things like building two small homes on the same space, creating more opportunities for housing and supplying more housing units at a time when they are desperately needed. Zoning that mandates a large lot for every house makes it financially infeasible for families to purchase. This bill will let homeowners decide if they want to split their lot. This will help close the racial home ownership gap. This is an important piece of the housing puzzle.
OTHER: There are concerns with the implementation provisions and timeline. The timeline for compliance of July 1, 2024, is unrealistic. A change of this magnitude should provide cities with at least two years to plan and implement. Please consider the total volume of planning work local governments will be asked to take on in the next couple of years. Rigid prohibition on easements of no more than four feet across for access to rear lots will prove unworkable. Not all public utility infrastructure is located at the front of the lot. Prohibition on dedications of right-of-way is unrealistic. They are often needed to ensure appropriate access for first responders and utilities.