February Planners' Newsletter

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feb. 20, 2024

February Planners' Newsletter


Local Project Review – SB 5290 (2023)

Legislative report creates preliminary resource list

In 2023, the Washington State Legislature directed Commerce to put together a plan to help local governments overcome staffing challenges, address permit backlogs, and respond to new and extensive state planning requirements to accelerate residential housing permitting and development. As a part of this effort, Commerce had to produce a legislative report detailing our approach and how we would implement it. Now that the report is submitted, we wanted to share the preliminary roster located in Appendix B

Commerce is obligated to further develop and maintain this roster of skilled consulting and staffing firms on an annual basis. Firms on the list have stated they are available to assist jurisdictions with staffing needs from basic to highly technical development proposals for building permit assistance, civil and structural engineering permit review, critical areas support, land use planning, review and inspections.

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

Climate updates

Survey input needed for new Salmon Grant Program

Communities across the state are working to balance increasing needs for housing and infrastructure with sustainable protections for salmon habitat and water quality. Commerce is looking into a grant that will help incorporate additional planning for salmon recovery at a local level.

To aid in this effort, we would like you to complete our survey. Your responses will help us to design and implement the new program. The survey will only take a couple of minutes out of your busy schedule.

The survey closes on Feb. 29, 2024, at 5 p.m.

We encourage you to share the survey with community partners and help us expand our initial level of inquiry.

Questions? Contact Angela San Filippo                                                                                            

Listening Sessions – Pilot Grant Program for community-based organizations

To help kickoff a new pilot grant program, Commerce is hosting three public listening sessions this month to help communities at higher risk from environmental harm. The goal of the grant is to foster greater participation in local policy decision-making by helping overburdened communities and vulnerable populations to participate more in local comprehensive plan and development regulation updates under the Growth Management Act. We need input from community-based organizations to design a program that will effectively use these grant funds. Please share this notice with organizations that may be interested in this opportunity.

Commerce listening sessions:

  • Feb. 22, 6 – 7 p.m. Register (Zoom)
  • Feb. 26, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Register (Zoom)
  • Feb. 26, 4 – 5 p.m. Register (Zoom)

The pilot program will start by focusing on Community Based Organizations in jurisdictions with a 2025 due date on their Periodic Updates including: Clallam, Clark, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, San Juan, Skagit, Thurston, and Whatcom Counties.

For more information: 

Contact our staff at cbogrants@commerce.wa.gov.

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These programs are supported with funding from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act. The CCA supports Washington’s climate action efforts by putting cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health

Housing updates

CLIHP Grant –Applications due

Commerce has allocated $1 million in funding for a new Coordinating Low-income Housing Planning (CLIHP) grant. While applications were due on Feb. 16, we will continue to accept applications through March 29, 2024. This grant helps counties and cities plan together for their lowest-income housing needs through local comprehensive plans, consolidated plans, homelessness plans, and other efforts. Up to $50,000 in funding is available for each county or regional application.

Grant documents:

Please contact Laura Hodgson with questions.

WAC Housing Rulemaking

Public review opens this March

Commerce will soon release draft updates to Washington Administrative Code 365-196 addressing 17 pieces of recent legislation on housing, permitting, development regulations, urban growth areas and rural development. The draft updates will become available the week of March 4, 2024.

Public listening sessions:

The revisions will be of most interest to local government staff working to update local comprehensive plans and regulations to be consistent with new laws, especially those that seek to address Washington’s housing shortage.

Comments and recommendations received will be reviewed and integrated as appropriate over this spring and summer. A formal public hearing on the revised updates will take place in August or September of 2024. Please check back for specific dates and comment deadlines.

For information about this rulemaking process, a list of legislation being implemented, and more information, please visit our WAC update project webpage.

New staff in Growth Management

Kathleen Weinand

Kathleen Weinard

Please welcome Kathleen Weinand to the Climate Operations Team in Growth Management Services. She will be supporting jurisdictions as they develop climate elements for their comprehensive plans. Kathleen has 15 years of planning experience working at the City of Spokane and most recently Spokane Transit. She has a degree in Planning and Environmental policy from Western Washington University. Kathleen lives in Spokane and enjoys hiking and standup paddle boarding. She is kept busy as leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout Brownie troop and member of a cooperative co-housing community. She is excited to join the talented planners at the Dept. of Commerce.

Job Openings

Growth Management Services team is hiring!

All job openings are posted on the Commerce Job’s Board:

Outside of Commerce

Washington State Department of Natural Resources Survey


The Washington Geological Survey (WGS) is interested in hearing how planners are using WGS maps and data to make land-use decisions. Let WGS know what you think by taking the WGS survey!

You can learn more about our services on the WGS Geologic Planning homepage.


Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) Grants

Planning a Recreation Project? Grant Criteria Recently Changed

Are you helping a city, town, tribe, park or port district plan a recreation project? The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) has changed the criteria used to evaluate grant applications in six popular recreation programs. The changes are aimed at improving opportunities for outdoor recreation in communities with fewer parks or less open space.

The change will affect applications taken this year in these programs: Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, Land and Water Conservation Fund, Youth Athletic Facilities, and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s Local Parks, Trails, and Water Access Categories. See details of the changes on RCO’s website.

Upcoming events


Periodic updates

2025 Updated workshop series – Capital Facilities planning

Commerce is partnering with the Thurston Regional Planning Council and the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) to bring you workshops that support jurisdictions with periodic updates due in 2025, as required under RCW 36.70A.130. This workshop will cover:

  • Updating the capital facilities element
  • Capital Facilities plan for stormwater, transportation and housing
  • City project examples
  • Tools and Resources
  • Q & A

Capital Facilities Workshop:

  • March 7, 2024, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Register (Zoom)

Each workshop in the series will feature a different periodic update topic in-depth. Stay tuned to the periodic update webpage for more information, previous session materials and registration.

Questions? Contact Suzanne Austin at Suzanne.Austin@commerce.wa.gov


Winter and spring Planners' Forum 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.

Eastern Washington Winter Planner’s Forum: 

  • Feb. 28, 2024, 9 - 11 a.m. Register (Zoom)

The Northwest Forum just had their winter event, and the Southwest and Peninsula forums are both looking for their next dates later this year. Individuals 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 Virtual Short Course:

  • March 28, 2024, 6 p.m. Register (Zoom)

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.