January Planners' Newsletter

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Jan. 23, 2024

January Planners' Newsletter

Downtown Yakima

Downtown Yakima

Local Project Review- SB 5290 (2023)

Local Project Review requirements and effective dates

Of the several bills approved and enacted in the 2023 legislative session, Senate Bill 5290 focused on updates and amendments to several sections of the Washington State Local Project Review Act, RCW 36.70B. The updates intended to strengthen and facilitate local government project review and permitting for construction and land use projects, with an emphasis on housing development.

The bill applies to counties, cities, and towns planning under the Growth Management Act (GMA), with some specifics for larger jurisdictions. Commerce has developed a new fact sheet on SB 5290 to assist local governments with the new requirements. It includes a breakdown of specific requirements for local governments and Commerce and effective dates for each section of the law.

Commerce has also been hard at work ‘behind the scenes’ with the project’s Permitting Work Group (PWG) and our consultant team. Soon we will begin to release a series of tools, guides, and resources, including notification of grant availability and a project webpage. Stay tuned for those updates!

For questions or comments, please contact Jo Anne Wright or Catherine McCoy.

Climate updates

Commerce publishes intermediate climate guidance

On January 11, 2024, Commerce released intermediate climate planning guidance to assist local governments in developing a climate element, as required under state law (HB 1181 (2023)). The new guidance is also available on our Climate Program webpage. Unfortunately, we’re having some technical issues with our interactive dashboard that featured our Menu of Measures. As an interim solution, we would like to direct you to a pdf version of our Menu of Measures (PDF).

A city or county may integrate climate mitigation and resilience goals and policies into a single element of the comprehensive plan or within several elements such as housing, transportation, and land use.

The new climate element requirement includes two sub-elements:

  1. A greenhouse gas emissions reduction sub-element is mandatory for 11 of the state’s largest and fastest-growing counties and their cities (only those with over 6,000 population) and requires mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and per capita vehicle miles traveled.
  2. A resilience sub-element is mandatory for all jurisdictions planning fully under the Growth Management Act. A natural hazard mitigation plan in substantial conformance with the guidance could be adopted, by reference, to satisfy the requirements.

For more information: 

Visit Commerce’s Climate Program webpage, or contact our Climate Program staff.


Commerce initiatives rulemaking for climate planning

Commerce is preparing to update rules for the Growth Management Act to reflect new climate legislation. We filed our intent for rulemaking (CR-101) on January 17, 2024, and will announce opportunities for community engagement and feedback in the near future.

The rulemaking effort responds to HB 1181(2023), which calls for the addition of a new climate element in city and county comprehensive plans. The rulemaking will address requirements for the climate element, including:

  1. Climate resilience sub-element
  2. Greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction sub-element
  3. Commerce’s new regulatory authority to review and approve GHG sub-elements voluntarily submitted by cities and counties

Please let us know if you would like to participate in a climate workgroup by emailing our project lead, Debra Srebnik. To receive information about collaborative opportunities, please also subscribe to our e-news at our Climate Program homepage.

Housing Updates

Multifamily Property Tax Exemption Administrators Meeting and Reporting

As a reminder, MFTE reporting is due by April 1, 2024, the forms are available now on the Commerce MFTE webpage. All jurisdictions are asked to complete the 2023 MFTE Reporting Form (Smartsheet). Any jurisdiction that issued a final certificate of tax exemption between Jan. 1, 2023, and Dec. 31, 2023, must complete the 2023 MFTE Details Sheet (Excel).

A reporting training will be hosted on Jan. 31, 2024, at 3 p.m. via Zoom, and registering in advance is required. 




The cities of Edmonds, Kirkland, Seattle, Shoreline, Spokane, Tacoma, and Vancouver must submit the contracts for the MFTE projects which contained income-restricted units and were issued their final certificate of tax exemption between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019.  These contracts can be emailed to Mary Reinbold or submitted via the 2023 MFTE Reporting Sheet. These contracts will be used to implement the MFTE audit program.

Coordinating Low-income Housing Planning (CLIHP) Grant

Commerce has allocated $1 Million in funding to help counties and cities plan together for their lowest-income housing needs through local comprehensive plans, consolidated plans, homelessness plans, and other efforts. Funding is available for a variety of eligible activities, see the Grant Instructions for more details.

Planning for shelters, emergency housing, permanent supportive housing, and other housing for households with the lowest incomes must be coordinated. It needs to involve housing and service providers, transit agencies, and land use planners to identify locations, funding streams, partners, and other supports for safe and decent housing for the people who need the most help.

Grants are available to:

  • a county or a city planning department,
  • a homeless housing lead or similar department within a local government, or
  • a local non-profit provider of affordable or homeless housing or services in partnership with one or more local governments.

Up to $50,000 in funding is available for each county or regional application, so applicants are encouraged to work together.

Applications received by Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at 5 p.m. will be prioritized for funding, but we will continue to receive applications through March 29, 2024.

Application materials:


Contact Laura Hodgson.

Improved Periodic Update Checklists are now available

In addition to the just-released climate guidance, Commerce has updated our Periodic Update checklists for fully planning counties and cities.

The 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions brought many changes to the Growth Management Act (GMA) RCW 36.70A, including housing and climate change regulations. Changes to the checklists are labeled for easy navigation. Reach out to your Commerce regional planner with any questions or contact Suzanne Austin, AICP. Please visit our Periodic Update webpage for more information.

New staff in Growth Management

Mary Miller

Mary Miller

Please welcome Mary Miller (she/her) to the Growth Management Services team. Mary will serve in the role of Tribal Climate Resilience Program Manager. As the Tribal Climate Resilience Program Manager, Mary provides program administration, technical assistance, and contract management activities for the statewide Tribal Climate Resilience program. 

Mary lives and works in Vancouver, WA, on the ancestral and contemporary homeland of the Cowlitz and Chinook people, and other tribes who are connected through their shared history of this region. She is passionate about building bridges between people and government and working alongside communities to identify and break down barriers to access and participation wherever they exist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Washington University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) from Eastern Washington University. Mary also recently completed a professional certificate program, Strategy Execution for Public Leadership, from Harvard Business School. She served two terms as a member of AmeriCorps VISTA.

Stacy Clauson

Stacy Clauson

Please welcome Stacy Clauson (she/her) as a senior planner for Growth Management Services on our ever-expanding Climate Change team. She is assisting counties and cities to address climate change in their local planning processes. She will also be developing and administering a grant program to community-based organizations to advance the participation of vulnerable populations and overburdened communities in the planning process.

Stacy has approximately 20 years of experience in planning with a focus on policy development, grants management, current development review, and long-range planning. She earned her Master’s degree in Geography from Western Washington University and has worked with local, regional, state, and tribal governments.

Outside of Commerce

Washington Geological Survey

New Tsunami Modeling Released for the Chehalis, Hoquiam, Willapa, and Wishkah Rivers

The Washington Geological Survey (WGS) has released new tsunami inundation and current speed maps for the Chehalis, Hoquiam, Willapa, and Wishkah Rivers in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties.

The maps show the modeled inundation from a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake scenario. This tsunami modeling is a continuation of previous modeling published in 2018 by the WGS for areas surrounding Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The 2018 modeling did not cover upriver areas. This new study uses the same earthquake scenario as the 2018 publication, with an updated Digital Elevation Model (DEM) to better understand how far up rivers the tsunami inundation would reach.

This modeling can be used as a tool to assist with emergency preparations and evacuation planning before a Cascadia subduction zone event or to determine locations where a tsunami vertical evacuation refuge may be appropriate.

See the full study description with maps online.

View the new tsunami inundation extents on an interactive map by visiting our Geologic Information Portal.


Department of Ecology

Dept of Ecology logo

Toxics Cleanup Program (TCP)

TCP will be opening our biennial solicitation for Affordable Housing Cleanup Grants for the 2025-27 biennium to support cleanup projects with an affordable housing development end-use.  Our guidelines for the 2025-27 biennium and the EAGL instructions are now online. The full scorecard, along with explanations of the criteria and backup required, are included in the guidelines. Funding that is successfully requested in Feb. of 2024 will be available in July of 2025. The solicitation will open Wednesday, Jan. 17, and close Wednesday, March 6 at 4 p.m.

 Affordable Housing Cleanup Grants 

  • Match: Ecology may provide up to 100% state share for local governments and nonprofit entities, and up to 75% state share for all other Applicants of an eligible project
  • Dollar limit: None
  • Scope of work: Cleanup actions defined in an order or decree at the site
  • Retroactive costs allowed: Yes

If you need assistance with applying for the EAGL application or have questions about the grant program, please contact :

Laurie Dahmen / 360.628.7499

Lyndsay Gordon / 360.810.1636

Upcoming Events

The 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 the American Planning Association set down. 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 weeks. 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.