December Planners' Newsletter

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dec. 21, 2023

December Planners' Newsletter

Catalyst Building

Happy Holidays from Growth Management Services!

As planners start to wind down their 2023 shopping lists and prepare for 2024, we thought we’d share a few highlights from what is, potentially, our busiest year on record.

Starting last January with a bang, the Collaborative Roadmap finished up several years of stakeholder engagement and feedback on the state’s land use planning framework. It delivered a report full of recommendations to the Washington Legislature. Between the roadmap and a housing survey, commissioned by the Puget Sound Regional Council and Commerce, the stage was set for an amazing legislative session. Of the original 13 Roadmap recommendations, six changes were enacted into law in 2023.

The GMS team wrapped up a multi-year update to the rules under the Growth Management Act, only to start the process on a new CR-101 as many of the changes from the 2023 legislative session started to resonate through our agency. With the CR-102 fast approaching, we expect robust rulemaking discussions to take place with our communities in 2024, so stay tuned.

Climate planning is now a part of the GMA, and the Commerce Climate team, now dubbed the Climate and Ecosystem Section, is rushing to meet the legislative deadline of intermediate guidance by the end of this year, along with a few yuletide carols. It takes the original voluntary guidance created by Commerce earlier this year and updates it with new legislative requirements from HB 1181 (2023). The GMS housing team wrapped up several guidance documents this year, finalizing several years of work that kicked off with HB 1220 (2021). They aren’t done yet, but it was nice to put a bow on several critical guidance documents for communities to use in their current periodic updates.  Commerce hopes to have Middle Housing Model Ordinances and a user guide completed at the start of 2024. We received hundreds of comments and are as busy as elves incorporating changes.

Commerce provided grants for middle housing, climate planning, periodic update planning and CHIP. These grants continue a theme of funded support for local governments across our state as we continue to tackle issues like housing and climate change.

Focusing outside of Commerce for a moment, the Growth Management Hearings Board unveiled a new electronic case management system and the Supreme Court weighed in on Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, with Commerce weighing in with Ecology shortly after.

We made many new friends this year, with new staff joining us from all across Washington, and there’s room for more! If you want to join our team, we are still recruiting. See our current openings for our Western Regional manager and our eastern and western Washington Senior Planner positions.

Last, but not least, Commerce opened a new office in Spokane, the Catalyst Building. To tidy up this little year-end recap, we thought we’d share a welcome photo from the new office. We hope you’ll visit us soon.

Happy Holidays!

-Dave Andersen, Managing Director, Growth Management Services

Multifactor Authentication makes it to Planview

If you haven’t logged into PlanView recently, you’ll notice a few new steps when you do so. Next time you log on to Secure Access Washington (SAW) to access your PlanView account, you will be required to complete the multifactor authentication process. An authentication code will be immediately sent to the verified email address or mobile phone number already registered in your SAW account. You must retrieve and enter that code to be redirected to your Commerce Online account.

PlanView is the primary submission system for document review here in Growth Management Services. You can create an account and submit documents associated with your periodic updates for review by Commerce, other state agencies and some tribal governments.

Childcare facilities and zoning

As Washington’s population grows, so does the need for housing and family services, like childcare. Recent findings indicate that local zoning restrictions can create unintentional barriers for new commercial childcare facilities. The current periodic update cycle is a timely moment to add planning for childcare into your communities’ comprehensive plan updates to expand the capacity for commercial childcare in your jurisdiction. 

A recent Commerce report finds that 63% of kids, birth through age five, live in childcare deserts. Nearly half of Washington parents found it difficult to find, afford, and maintain childcare. When families do not have childcare, it affects decisions about work and education, which creates direct and indirect costs that families have to absorb. Since 2017, the Commerce Early Learning Facilities (ELF) Program has invested approximately $140 million to create more than 10,000 childcare slots. Despite this success, we know there is more work to do at the state and local levels to enable provider capacity.

Recently, the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership (SSMCP) and the City of Lakewood uncovered that only 4% of Lakewood’s buildable land was outright permitted for commercial childcare. Similarly, only 1.1% of Unincorporated Pierce County was permitted outright for commercial childcare. These findings spurred community leaders to action.  At the request of SSMCP, the City of Lakewood did a full analysis of its own allowances for commercial childcare and realized there was room for expansion.

In late Sept. 2023, the City of Lakewood amended its development regulations (PDF) to expand land use zones to increase the total eligible area for childcare facilities to 52%. The cities of Yelm and Seattle have also recently passed amendments to expand childcare zoning in their communities. To learn more about the Lakewood experience, you can review this SSMCP childcare zoning overview (PDF) or contact Maria Tobin, SSMCP Program Coordinator. 

Housing updates

RFP for Supportive Housing Model Ordinance and Communications Toolkit

Commerce is seeking proposals from firms to develop a model ordinance and communications toolkit for supportive housing types. Supportive housing types include emergency housing, emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing and transitional housing, as defined in RCW 36.70A.030 and RCW 84.36.043(3)(c). The model ordinance and communications toolkit will assist local governments in adopting regulations to allow supportive housing types in more areas of Washington to comply with HB 1220 (2021).

Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are due Jan 3, 2024 by 4 PM PST. Commerce expects to award one contract for this solicitation, with all work to be completed by June 2024. Funding will not exceed $160,000. For questions, please contact Deborah Jacobs, RFP Coordinator.

Housing Checklists to Guide Periodic Update Work

With significant housing element updates due this periodic update cycle, Commerce regional planners will use an Expanded Housing Checklist to review periodic update submissions. This checklist is NOT required to be completed by each jurisdiction but is provided on our website as an additional tool to help local planners meet the intent of the statute.

Additionally, Commerce staff created a Supportive Housing Types Review Checklist to help local governments review and prepare codes that regulate the supportive housing types listed in HB 1220 (2021).

Growth Management and SB 5198

In 2023, the governor signed SB 5198 into law to provide protections to manufactured/mobile home communities. This new law affects the sale and closure of manufactured/mobile home communities by providing the following two requirements.

  • Notice of Opportunity to Compete to Purchase – RCW 20.320 through 59.20.360
  • Notice of Closure or Conversion of a Manufactured/Mobile Home Community – RCW 20.080

Commerce recommends community owners, potential developers, and real estate professionals consult with attorneys knowledgeable in the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.20), specifically RCW 59.20.080 (1)(e), 59.20.320 – 59.20.60, as well as RCW 59.21.030, Closure notice – Requirements, prior to selling or closing manufactured housing communities in the state of Washington. With periodic updates in full swing, this may be an item planners and local governments need to share with relevant stakeholders in their communities.

For more information about the Notice of Opportunity to Compete to Purchase, Notice of Closure or Conversion of a Manufactured/Mobile Home Community, please contact program staff at or 800-964-0852. You can learn more about manufactured/mobile home relocation assistance and requirements on our Commerce webpage.

Outside of Commerce

Washington State DOT

WSDOT Completes Highway System Plan public review

The Washington State Department of Transportation has completed public comment on a draft of the new Highway System Plan. Last published in 2007, this plan is a roadmap for preserving, maintaining, improving, and operating state highways for all people using all types of transportation modes. State highways, which include state and interstate highways and state routes, form the backbone of Washington’s transportation system and are critical to both statewide mobility and economic success.

The new Highway System Plan includes highway investment recommendations to the Washington State Legislature that, if realized, will result in a highway system that is sound, safe, and smart.

  • Sound. All bridges and highways remain open and are maintained in working condition.
  • Safe. Fewer crashes by providing safer spaces for all modes.
  • Smart:
    • Healthier environment. Removal of fish passage barriers, fewer vehicle miles traveled, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.
    • More equitable outcomes. Agency investments and policy decisions are equitable and inclusive.
    • More walking, bicycling, and rolling. Closure of most active transportation gaps on, next to, or across highways.
    • More travel options. Reduction of commute trips by coordinating with cities, employers, and transit to add or support more modes and travel options.
    • Smoother transportation operations. More effective handling of crashes, information, and low-cost solutions.

To find out more about the Highway System Plan, please visit WSDOT’s Highway System Plan online open house at:  

Washington State Geological Survey

DNR Logo

Updated Landslide Inventory of the Columbia River Gorge Published!

The Washington Geological Survey (WGS) is pleased to announce the release of a new publication: Landslide inventory update of the Columbia River Gorge in Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties, Washington. The publication consists of a pamphlet summarizing key results and describing the methods used. This publication builds on a 2018 inventory of the Columbia Gorge by mapping additional landslide hazard areas such as alluvial fans, rock fall, and more recent landslides. The new mapping has been added to the WGS Washington State Landslide Inventory Database (WASLID) landslide database, which can be viewed on our Geologic Information Portal.

Updated Landslide Hazard Mapping in Washington Fact Sheet Published!

The Washington Geological Survey (WGS) is also excited to announce the Landslide Hazard Mapping in Washington Fact Sheet has been updated! The Fact Sheet describes WGS landslide hazard mapping. Lidar-based landslide hazard mapping assists land-use planners, emergency managers, public works staff, and those who live and work where landslides could impact their daily lives. Local jurisdictions can make informed decisions about their assets, community safety, and growth management using the best available science. The Fact Sheet is on the Geologic Planning webpage.

Upcoming Events

2025 Workshop Series

Webinar:This workshop in the 2025 Series will focus on Transportation with discussions on updating your transportation element and more.


When: January 18 from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Where: Online via Zoom.

Commerce is partnering with the Thurston Regional Planning Council and the Municipal Research and Services Center to bring you workshops on various planning topics to support jurisdictions with updates due in 2025.  You can read more about it with our January Workshop Flyer (PDF).

Each workshop in the series will feature a different periodic update topic. Stay tuned to the periodic update webpage for future workshop information and registration. Questions? Contact Suzanne Austin, Senior Planner, at

Planners discuss middle housing

Mid-size WA City Planners Housing Discussions: Join planners from across the state for another casual conversation as we all tackle middle housing and related issues. The City of Bellingham is hosting these discussions as an opportunity for jurisdictions to hear what others have done and to discuss any ideas, questions, and lessons learned with one another. The next one will be held over Zoom on Jan. 19 at 1:00 pm. Scott Guter from the City of Kirkland will present on their middle housing work. Opportunity for questions will follow before everyone breaks out into more informal middle housing discussions. Reach out to Elizabeth Erickson at for more information or to be added to the invite list for this and/or future housing discussions.

Winter Planners' Forum schedule coming soon

The Planners’ Forums are quarterly events held regionally across Washington state and in partnership with both the Washington APA and the Planners Association of Washington. Each one features guest speakers discussing planning related topics in association with the guidelines set down by the American Planning Association. While regionally focused, the forums are typically on Zoom and available for statewide attendance. You can learn more on the Planners’ Forums webpage.

We’ve just recently concluded the fall forums, so stay tuned for the winter forum dates in the upcoming months. Remember, folks needing American Planning Association (AICP) credits will receive credits for attending based on topics covered. Learn more about Commerce’s regional forums at the Growth Management Planners' Forum webpage.

The Short Course on Local Planning

The Short Course on local planning offers an overview of land use planning laws in Washington, an introduction to comprehensive planning and plan implementation under the Growth Management Act (GMA), and a review of roles in planning and mandatory training on the Open Public Meetings Act for local government officials. All courses are online, free and open to the public.

Online (Zoom) courses:

Ask about local presentations

Commerce also offers e-visits to local planning commissions or other meetings. Topics include, but are not limited to, comprehensive plan basics and roles in the planning process.

Contact your regional planner to request a presentation.