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Washington Regulations
Chapter 365-195 WAC Growth management act procedural criteria for adopting comprehensive plans and development regulations

Last Update: 4/2/01


Through the Growth Management Act, the legislature provided a new framework for land use planning and the regulation of development in Washington state in response to challenges posed to the quality of life by rapid growth. Major features of this framework include:

(1) A requirement that counties with specified populations and rates of growth and the cities within them adopt comprehensive plans and development regulations under the act. Other counties can choose to be covered by this requirement, thereby including the cities they contain.

(2) A set of common goals to guide the development of comprehensive plans and development regulations.

(3) The concept that the process should be a "bottom up" effort, involving early and continuous public participation, with the central locus of decision-making at the local level.

(4) Requirements for the locally developed plans to be consistent internally, consistent with county-wide planning policies and consistent with the plans of other counties and cities where there are common borders or related regional issues.

(5) A requirement that development regulations adopted to implement the comprehensive plans be consistent with such plans.

(6) The principle that development and the providing of public facilities and services needed to support development should occur concurrently.

(7) A determination that planning and plan implementation actions should address difficult issues that have resisted resolution in the past, such as:

(a) The timely financing of needed infrastructure;

(b) Providing adequate and affordable housing for all economic segments of the population;

(c) Concentrating growth in urban areas, provided with adequate urban services;

(d) The siting of essential public facilities;

(e) The designation and conservation of agricultural, forest, and mineral resource lands;

(f) The designation and protection of environmentally critical areas.

(8) An intention that economic development be encouraged and fostered within the planning and regulatory scheme established for managing growth.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-010, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Within the framework established by the act, a wide diversity of local visions of the future can be accommodated. Moreover, there is no exclusive method for accomplishing the planning and development regulation requirements of the act. However, in light of the complexity and difficulty of the task, the legislature assigned the department of community development the function of establishing a program of technical assistance. As part of that program, the department is directed to adopt by rule procedural criteria to assist counties and cities in adopting comprehensive plans and development regulations that meet the goals and requirements of the act. The purpose of this chapter is to carry out that directive.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-020, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


(1) This chapter makes recommendations for meeting the requirements of the act. The recommendations set forth are intended as a listing of possible choices, but compliance with the requirements of the act can be achieved without using all of the suggestions made here or by adopting other approaches.

(2) These criteria are not meant to represent a minimum list of actions which must be taken for comprehensive plans and development regulations to meet the goals and requirements of the act.

(3) The growth planning hearings boards are authorized to determine, in cases brought before them, whether comprehensive plans or development regulations are in compliance with the goals and requirements of the act. In making such determinations, the boards are required to consider the procedural criteria contained in this chapter. However, compliance with these criteria is not a prerequisite to a finding of compliance with the act.

(4) Nothing in this chapter is intended to affect planning decisions and actions made pursuant to the act before this chapter became effective, including but not limited to the adoption of county-wide planning policies.

(5) This chapter does not apply to jurisdictions not required to plan or not choosing to plan under RCW 36.70A.040.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-030, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


General method.
(1) This chapter identifies the act's mandatory provisions for creating comprehensive plans and development regulations. These statutory mandates are listed under headings labeled "requirements." Courses of action the department recommends in order to comply with the act's mandates are set forth under headings labeled "recommendations for meeting requirements."

(2) Definitions and interpretations made in this chapter by the department, but not expressly set forth in the act, are identified as such. The department's purpose is to provide assistance in interpreting the act, not to add provisions and meanings beyond those intended by the legislature.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-040, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Presumption of validity.
Comprehensive plans and development regulations adopted under the act are presumed valid upon adoption. Nevertheless, jurisdictions whose plans are challenged will be obliged to furnish a record for the review process. Although the presumption of validity should discourage meritless appeals, if the presumption is overcome in any case, the county or city will be required to demonstrate compliance with the act. Such a demonstration will be aided by a record which documents deliberations, shows data relied upon, and explains how conclusions were reached.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-050, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Regional and local variations.
(1) Regional and local variations and the diversity that exist among different counties and cities are to be reflected in the use and application of these procedural criteria. Local jurisdictions are expected to use a pick and choose approach. Following these criteria is appropriate, in any case, only to the extent necessary to fairly meet the intent of the act in the particular situation.

(2) To a major extent, recognition of variations and diversity is implicit in the framework of the act itself, with its emphasis on a "bottom up" planning process and on public participation. Such recognition is also inherent in the listing of goals without assignment of priority. Accordingly, this chapter seeks to accommodate regional and local differences by focusing on an analytical process, instead of on specific outcomes.

(3) Local plans and development regulations are expected to vary in complexity and in level of detail provided in the supporting record, depending on population size, growth rates, resources available for planning and scale of public facilities, and services provided.

(4) In general, smaller jurisdictions will not be expected to engage in extensive original research, but will be able to rely upon reasonable assumptions derived from available data of a statewide or regional nature or representative of jurisdictions of comparable size and growth rates.

(5) In commenting on plans and regulations proposed for adoption, state agencies including the department should be guided by a common-sense appreciation of the size of the jurisdiction involved and the magnitude of the problems addressed. It is anticipated that the growth planning hearings boards will be informed by the same awareness.

(6) The department has developed a model comprehensive plan for smaller jurisdictions which may be used to help guide local planning where local resources are limited.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-060, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


The following represent the department's interpretation of several critical concepts about which the express terms of the act are not clear. While not necessarily the only appropriate way to view the concepts involved, these interpretations appear to be supported by the overall statutory context.

(1) Goals. The act lists thirteen overall goals in RCW 36.70A.020. Comprehensive plans and development regulations are to be designed to meet these goals. The list of thirteen goals is not exclusive. Local governments may adopt additional goals. However, these additional goals must be supplementary. They may not conflict with the thirteen statutory goals. Comprehensive plans must show how each of the goals is to be pursued consistent with the planning entity's vision of its future. Differences in emphasis are expected from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some cases meeting certain of these goals may involve support for activities beyond jurisdictional boundaries. In most cases, if a comprehensive plan meets the statutory goals, development regulations consistent with the comprehensive plan will meet the goals.

(2) Economic development. The act lists economic development as one of the overall goals, but does not mandate an economic development element within comprehensive plans. This should not be read as a downgrading of the importance of economic development as a feature of the growth management planning and implementation process. Planning under the act in connection with all mandatory elements should be undertaken with the goal of economic development in mind. Whether the jurisdiction elects to develop a separate economic development element or not, desired levels of job growth, and of commercial and industrial expansion should be identified and supporting strategies should be integrated with the land use, housing, utilities transportation, and other features of the comprehensive plan.

(3) Concurrency. The achievement of concurrency should be sought with respect to public facilities in addition to transportation facilities. The list of such additional facilities should be locally defined. The department recommends that at least domestic water systems and sanitary sewer systems be added to concurrency lists applicable within urban growth areas, and that at least domestic water systems be added for lands outside urban growth areas. Concurrency describes the situation in which adequate facilities are available when the impacts of development occur, or within a specified time thereafter. With respect to facilities other than transportation facilities and water systems, local jurisdictions may fashion their own regulatory responses and are not limited to imposing moratoria on development during periods when concurrency is not maintained.

(4) Essential public facilities. The term "essential public facilities" is a specialized term applicable in the context of siting, and refers to facilities that are typically difficult to site. "Essential public facilities" do not necessarily include everything within the statutory definitions of "public facilities" and "public services," and should include additional items not listed in those definitions. Consistent with county-wide planning policies, local governments should create their own lists of "essential public facilities," guided by the examples set forth in RCW 36.70A.200, but not necessarily bound by those examples. For the purposes of identifying facilities to be subject to the "essential public facilities" siting process, it is not necessary that the facilities be publicly owned. If the services involved meet a locally accepted definition of public service, the supporting facilities for the services may be included on the list, regardless of ownership.

(5) Urban growth areas. The adoption of urban growth areas by counties should reflect a cooperative effort among jurisdictions to accomplish the requirements of the act on a regional basis. As growth occurs, most lands within urban growth areas should ultimately be provided with local urban services by cities, either directly or by contract. Other service providers are appropriate within urban growth areas for regional or county-wide services, or for isolated unincorporated pockets characterized by urban growth. Provisions should be made for the phasing of development within each urban growth area to ensure that services are provided as growth occurs. In proposing urban growth areas, cities should endeavor to accommodate projected urban growth through infill within existing municipal boundaries. But in some cases expansion will be logical. Interlocal agreements should be negotiated regarding land use management and the provision of services to such potential expansion areas so that such growth can occur in a manner consistent with the cities' comprehensive plans and development regulations.

(6) Affordable housing. This is a term which applies to the adequacy of housing stocks to fulfill the housing needs of all economic segments of the population. The underlying assumption is that the market place will guarantee adequate housing for those in the upper economic brackets but that some combination of appropriately zoned land, regulatory incentives, financial subsidies, and innovative planning techniques will be necessary to make adequate provisions for the needs of middle and lower income persons. Each jurisdiction should incorporate a regional perspective into the identification of its housing planning area, with the understanding that the population to be planned for is county-wide. All jurisdictions should share in the responsibility for achieving a reasonable and equitable distribution of affordable housing to meet the needs of middle and lower income persons. While government policies and programs alone cannot ensure that everyone is adequately housed, attention should be given to removing regulatory barriers to affordable housing where such action is otherwise consistent with the act. In the overall implementation of the act an effort should be made to avoid an escalation of costs which will defeat the achievement of the act's housing aims.

(7) Consistency. The act calls for "consistency" in a number of contexts. In general, the phrase "not incompatible with" conveys the meaning of "consistency" most suited to preserving flexibility for local variations. An important example of the use of the term is the requirement that comprehensive plans be internally consistent. This requirement appears to mean that the parts of the plan must fit together so that no one feature precludes the achievement of any other. (E.g., the densities selected and the wetlands to be protected can both be achieved on the available land base.) A second significant example is the requirement that each comprehensive plan be consistent with other comprehensive plans of jurisdictions with common borders or related regional issues. Determining consistency in this interjurisdictional context is complicated by the differences in timing which will occur in the adoption of plans. Initially interjurisdictional consistency should be met by plans which are consistent with and carry out the relevant county-wide planning policies.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-070, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Statutory definitions.
For the convenience of persons using these criteria the definitions contained in RCW 36.70A.030 are set forth below:

(1) "Adopt a comprehensive land use plan" means to enact a new comprehensive land use plan or to update an existing comprehensive land use plan.

(2) "Agricultural land" means land primarily devoted to the commercial production of horticultural, viticultural, floricultural, dairy, apiary, vegetable, or animal products or of berries, grain, hay, straw, turf, seed, Christmas trees not subject to the excise tax imposed by RCW 84.33.100 through 84.33.140, or livestock and that has long-term commercial significance for agricultural production.

(3) "City" means any city or town, including a code city.

(4) "Comprehensive land use plan," "comprehensive plan," or "plan" means a generalized coordinated land use policy statement of the governing body of a county or city that is adopted pursuant to this chapter.

(5) "Critical areas" include the following areas and ecosystems:

(a) Wetlands;

(b) Areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water;

(c) Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas;

(d) Frequently flooded areas; and

(e) Geologically hazardous areas.

(6) "Department" means the department of community development.

(7) "Development regulations" means any controls placed on development or land use activities by a county or city, including, but not limited to, zoning ordinances, subdivision ordinances, and binding site plan ordinances.

(8) "Forest land" means land primarily useful for growing trees, including Christmas trees subject to the excise tax imposed under RCW 84.33.100 through 84.33.140, for commercial purposes, and that has long-term commercial significance for growing trees commercially.

(9) "Geologically hazardous areas" means areas that because of their susceptibility to erosion, sliding, earthquake, or other geological events, are not suited to the siting of commercial, residential, or industrial development consistent with public health or safety concerns.

(10) "Long-term commercial significance" includes the growing capacity, productivity, and soil composition of the land for long-term commercial production, in consideration with the land's proximity to population areas, and the possibility of more intense uses of the land.

(11) "Minerals" include gravel, sand, and valuable metallic substances.

(12) "Public facilities" include streets, roads, highways, sidewalks, street and road lighting systems, traffic signals, domestic water systems, storm and sanitary sewer systems, parks and recreational facilities, and schools.

(13) "Public services" include fire protection and suppression, law enforcement, public health, education, recreation, environmental protection, and other governmental services.

(14) "Urban growth" refers to growth that makes intensive use of land for the location of buildings, structures, and impermeable surfaces to such a degree as to be incompatible with the primary use of such land for the production of food, other agricultural products, or fiber, or the extraction of mineral resources. When allowed to spread over wide areas, urban growth typically requires urban governmental services. "Characterized by urban growth" refers to land having urban growth located on it, or to land located in relationship to an area with urban growth on it as to be appropriate for urban growth.

(15) "Urban growth area" means those areas designated by a county pursuant to RCW 36.70A.110.

(16) "Urban governmental services" include those governmental services historically and typically delivered by cities, and include storm and sanitary sewer systems, domestic water systems, street cleaning services, fire and police protection services, public transit services, and other public utilities associated with urban areas and normally not associated with nonurban areas.

(17) "Wetland" or "wetlands" means areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. Wetlands do not include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland sites, including, but not limited to, irrigation and drainage ditches, grass-lined swales, canals, detention facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, farm ponds, and landscape amenities. However, wetlands may include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland areas created to mitigate conversion of wetlands, if permitted by the county or city.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-200, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Definitions of terms as used in this chapter.
The following are definitions of terms which are not defined in RCW 36.70A.030 but which are defined here for purposes of these procedural criteria. The department recommends that counties and cities planning under the act adopt these definitions in their plans:

"Act" means the Growth Management Act as enacted in chapter 17, Laws of 1990 1st ex. sess., and chapter 32, Laws of 1991 sp. sess., state of Washington.

"Adequate public facilities" means facilities which have the capacity to serve development without decreasing levels of service below locally established minimums.

"Affordable housing" means residential housing that is rented or owned by a person or household whose monthly housing costs, including utilities other than telephone, do not exceed thirty percent of the household's monthly income.

"Available public facilities" means that facilities or services are in place or that a financial commitment is in place to provide the facilities or services within a specified time. In the case of transportation, the specified time is six years from the time of development.

"Concurrency" means that adequate public facilities are available when the impacts of development occur. This definition includes the two concepts or "adequate public facilities" and of "available public facilities" as defined above.

"Consistency" means that no feature of a plan or regulation is incompatible with any other feature of a plan or regulation. Consistency is indicative of a capacity for orderly integration or operation with other elements in a system.

"Coordination" means consultation and cooperation among jurisdictions.

"Contiguous development" means development of areas immediately adjacent to one another.

"Demand management strategies," or "transportation demand management strategies (TDM)" means strategies aimed at changing travel behavior rather than at expanding the transportation network to meet travel demand. Such strategies can include the promotion of work hour changes, ride-sharing options, parking policies, telecommuting.

"Domestic water system" means any system providing a supply of potable water which is deemed adequate pursuant to RCW 19.27.097 for the intended use of a development.

"Financial commitment" means that sources of public or private funds or combinations thereof have been identified which will be sufficient to finance public facilities necessary to support development and that there is reasonable assurance that such funds will be timely put to that end.

"Growth Management Act" - see definition of "Act."

"Level of service" means an established minimum capacity of public facilities or services that must be provided per unit of demand or other appropriate measure of need.

"Master planned resort" means a self-contained and fully integrated planned unit development, in a setting of significant natural amenities, with primary focus on destination resort facilities consisting of short-term visitor accommodations associated with a range of developed on-site indoor or outdoor recreational facilities.

"New fully contained community" is a development proposed for location outside of the existing designated urban growth areas which is characterized by urban densities, uses, and services, and meets the criteria of RCW 36.70A.350.

"Planning period" means the twenty-year period following the adoption of a comprehensive plan or such longer period as may have been selected as the initial planning horizon by the planning jurisdiction.

"Public service obligations" means obligations imposed by law on utilities to furnish facilities and supply service to all who may apply for and be reasonably entitled to service.

"Regional transportation plan" means the transportation plan for the regionally designated transportation system which is produced by the regional transportation planning organization.

"Regional transportation planning organization (RTPO)" means the voluntary organization conforming to RCW 47.80.020, consisting of local governments within a region containing one or more counties which have common transportation interests.

"Rural lands" means all lands which are not within an urban growth area and are not designated as natural resource lands having long term commercial significance for production of agricultural products, timber, or the extraction of minerals.

"Sanitary sewer systems" means all facilities, including approved on-site disposal facilities, used in the collection, transmission, storage, treatment, or discharge of any waterborne waste, whether domestic in origin or a combination of domestic, commercial, or industrial waste.

"Solid waste handling facility" means any facility for the transfer or ultimate disposal of solid waste, including land fills and municipal incinerators.

"Transportation facilities" includes capital facilities related to air, water, or land transportation.

"Transportation level of service standards" means a measure which describes the operational condition of the travel stream and acceptable adequacy requirements. Such standards may be expressed in terms such as speed and travel time, freedom to maneuver, traffic interruptions, comfort, convenience, geographic accessibility, and safety.

"Transportation system management (TSM)" means the use of low capital expenditures to increase the capacity of the transportation system. TSM strategies include but are not limited to signalization, channelization, and bus turn-outs.

"Utilities" or "public utilities" means enterprises or facilities serving the public by means of an integrated system of collection, transmission, distribution, and processing facilities through more or less permanent physical connections between the plant of the serving entity and the premises of the customer. Included are systems for the delivery of natural gas, electricity, telecommunications services, and water, and for the disposal of sewage.

"Visioning" means a process of citizen involvement to determine values and ideals for the future of a community and to transform those values and ideals into manageable and feasible community goals.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 93-17-040, 365-195-210, filed 8/11/93, effective 9/11/93; 92-23-065, 365-195-210, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Additional definitions to be adopted locally.
In addition to adopting definitions of terms set forth in the preceding section, planning jurisdictions should consider developing local definitions of the following, to the extent such terms are used in local plans. The definitions should in every case be consistent with county-wide planning policies:

"Development rights."

"Essential public facilities."

"Rural governmental services."

"Objectives, principles, and standards."

"Related regional issues."

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 93-17-040, 365-195-220, filed 8/11/93, effective 9/11/93; 92-23-065, 365-195-220, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Mandatory elements.
(1) Requirements. The comprehensive plan shall consist of a map or maps and descriptive text covering objectives, principles, and standards used to develop the comprehensive plan. The plan shall be an internally consistent document and all elements shall be consistent with the future land use map.

(a) Each comprehensive plan shall include a plan, scheme, or design for each of the following:

(i) A land use element.

(ii) A housing element.

(iii) A capital facilities plan element.

(iv) A utilities element.

(v) A transportation element.

Counties shall also include a rural element including lands that are not designated for urban growth, agriculture, forest, or mineral resources.

(b) Additionally each plan shall contain a process for identifying and siting essential public facilities.

(2) Recommendations for overall design.

(a) The planning horizon for the comprehensive plan should be at least the twenty-year period following the adoption of the plan.

(b) Planning jurisdictions should consider including at the outset a separate section addressing the statutory goals and how the plan deals with each of them. This section should also identify any supplementary goals adopted.

(c) County-wide planning policies establish a county-wide framework from which county and city comprehensive plans are to be developed. How the applicable county-wide policies have been integrated into the plans should be made apparent.

(d) Each plan should contain a future land use map or maps, showing the proposed physical distribution and location of the various land uses during the planning period. This map should provide a graphic display of how and where development is expected to occur.

(e) The descriptive text covering objectives, principles, and standards used to develop the comprehensive plan will be expressive of the vision of the future of the planning entity. The text should articulate community values derived from the visioning and other citizen participation processes. The terms objectives, principles, and standards relate to methods chosen to meet planning goals or measurable steps on the path toward achieving such goals. The precise meaning of these terms should be locally defined.

(f) Jurisdictions are encouraged to include at the beginning of their comprehensive plans a section which summarizes, with graphics and a minimum of text, how the various pieces of the plan fit together. Plans may include overlay maps and other graphic displays depicting development patterns, phasing of development, neighborhoods or subarea definitions, and other plan features.

(g) A suggested detailed approach of how each element of the comprehensive plan may be prepared is provided through assistance manuals produced by the department.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-300, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Land use element.
(1) Requirements. This element shall contain at least the following features:

(a) Designation of the proposed general distribution and general location and extent of the uses of land, where appropriate, for agriculture, timber production, housing, commerce, industry, recreation, open spaces, public utilities, public facilities, and other land uses.

(b) Population densities, building intensities, and estimates of future population growth.

(c) Provisions for protection of the quality and quantity of ground water used for public water supplies.

(d) Where applicable, a review of drainage, flooding, and storm water runoff in the area covered by the plan and nearby jurisdictions, and guidance for corrective actions to mitigate or cleanse those discharges that pollute waters of the state, including Puget Sound or waters entering Puget Sound.

(2) Recommendations for meeting requirements. The following steps are recommended in preparing the land use element:

(a) Integration of relevant county-wide planning policies (and, where applicable, multicounty planning policies) into the local planning process.

(b) Identification of the existing general distribution and location of various land uses.

(c) Identification of the approximate acreage and general range of density or intensity of existing uses.

(d) Estimation using available data of the future population growth for the planning area and a projection of the level of commercial, industrial, and residential development likely to be experienced over at least the next twenty years.

(e) Selection of commercial, industrial, and residential densities sought to be achieved and their distribution for the purposes of accommodating the anticipated growth.

(f) Inventory of vacant, partially used and under-utilized land. Analysis of the extent to which existing buildings and housing, together with vacant, partially used and under-utilized land can support anticipated growth at the densities selected.

(g) Preparation of an implementation strategy for accomplishing the densities and distribution sought. To the extent that greater intensity of development is proposed, the strategy should include a description of the general range of physical forms contemplated for structures which will accommodate the new growth.

(h) Identification of the approximate spatial requirements for capital facilities (including transportation facilities) and utilities needed to support the planned level of development.

(i) Generalized location and estimation of quantity of land needed for utility corridors, open space corridors, critical areas, and natural resource lands to be included within the planning area.

(j) Preparation of the future land use map on the basis of the total analysis performed.

(k) Reevaluation of this scheme in light of:

(i) The projected capacity for financing the needed capital facilities over the planning period; and

(ii) An assessment of whether the densities and distribution of growth contemplated can be achieved within the capacity of available land and water resources and without environmental degradation.

(l) Creation of a ground water protection strategy, integrating the relevant planning requirements of other statutes, consistent with the designation of areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water. Consideration should be given to the adoption of nondegradation as a ground water protection goal.

(m) Consultation with neighboring jurisdictions and state agencies to formulate a cooperative, integrated, watershed based approach to identified pollution problems caused by drainage, flooding, storm water runoff, failing septic systems, agricultural runoff, and other nonpoint sources, taking advantage of existing plans dealing with these subjects. To the extent that county-wide planning policies are relevant, they should followed in arriving at interjurisdictional solutions.

(n) A schedule for the phasing of the development contemplated consistent with the availability of capital facilities as provided in the capital facilities element.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-305, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Housing element.
(1) Requirements. This element shall contain at least the following features:

(a) An inventory and analysis of existing and projected housing needs.

(b) A statement of the goals, policies, and objectives for the preservation, improvement, and development of housing.

(c) Identification of sufficient land for housing, including, but not limited to, government-assisted housing, housing for low-income families, manufactured housing, multifamily housing, and group homes and foster care facilities.

(d) Adequate provisions for existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community.

(2) Recommendations for meeting requirements. The following steps are recommended in preparing the housing element:

(a) Preparation of an inventory and analysis of the condition of existing housing stocks, using currently available data to the extent possible.

(b) An assessment of the needs for housing in the planning area, including both present needs and needs anticipated as a result of planned growth over the planning period.

(c) Evaluation of the extent to which the existing and projected market can provide housing at various costs and for various income levels.

(d) Estimation of the present and future extent of populations in the planning area which require assistance to obtain housing they can afford.

(e) Identification of existing programs and policies to promote adequate housing for population segments which cannot afford housing in the existing market and evaluation of their effectiveness.

(f) Incorporation of county-wide planning policies on affordable housing and parameters for the distribution of such housing. This should include identification of the share of affordable housing to be provided by the planning jurisdiction and how it will be achieved. In some cases, it may be appropriate for a jurisdiction to provide assistance for the location of affordable housing elsewhere.

(g) Planning jurisdictions should use the following ranges for various economic groupings in the planning area:

(i) Extremely low income - below thirty percent of median income.

(ii) Very low income - between thirty-one percent and fifty percent of median income.

(iii) Low income - between fifty-one percent and eighty percent of median income.

(iv) Moderate income - between eighty-one percent and ninety-five percent of median income.

(v) Middle income - between ninety-six percent and one hundred twenty percent of median income.

The parameters to be used in planning for affordable housing should be those adopted and annually adjusted for household size by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

(h) Determination of housing goals, policies, and objectives in light of the needs identified. This process should include consideration of the locational needs of various types of housing in light of proximity to employment and of access to transportation and services.

(i) Identification of new programs and policies which can be instituted to promote adequate housing for all economic segments of the population.

(j) Preparation of a strategy for preserving, improving, and developing housing which will attempt to meet the needs identified for all economic segments of the population in the planning area. The strategy should include:

(i) Consideration of the range of housing choices to be encouraged, including but not limited to, multifamily housing, mixed uses, manufactured homes, accessory living units, and detached homes.

(ii) Consideration of various lot sizes and densities, and of clustering and other design configurations.

(iii) Identification of sufficient appropriately zoned land to accommodate the identified housing needs over the planning period.

(iv) Evaluation of the capacity of local public and private entities and the availability of financing to produce housing to the meet the identified need.

(k) Emphasis should be placed on adequately providing for group homes, foster care facilities, and facilities for other special populations, while maintaining an equitable distribution of these facilities among neighboring jurisdictions.

(l) In developing the housing element attention should be directed to working with the desires of residents to preserve the character and vitality of existing neighborhoods, along with the rights of people to live in the neighborhood of their choice.

(m) The provisions of the housing element should be integrated with the provisions of the land use element.

(n) Provision for a program of ongoing review to monitor the performance of the housing strategy and for making adjustments and revisions as needed to achieve the goals, policies, and objectives. Such a program could include the collection and maintenance of information about the housing market, and where reasonably available from existing sources, data on the supply of developable residential building lots at various land-use densities and the supply of rental and for-sale housing at various price levels.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-310, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Capital facilities element.
(1) Requirements. This element shall contain at least the following features:

(a) An inventory of existing capital facilities owned by public entities, showing the locations and capacities of the capital facilities.

(b) A forecast of the future needs for such capital facilities.

(c) The proposed locations and capacities of expanded or new capital facilities.

(d) At least a six-year plan that will finance such capital facilities within projected funding capacities and clearly identifies sources of public money for such purposes.

(e) A requirement to reassess the land use element if probable funding falls short of meeting existing needs and to ensure that the land use element, capital facilities plan element, and financing plan within the capital facilities plan element are coordinated and consistent.

(2) Recommendations for meeting requirements. The capital facilities element should serve as a check on the practicality of achieving other elements of the plan. The following steps are recommended in preparing the capital facilities element:

(a) Inventory of existing capital facilities showing locations and capacities, including an inventory of the extent to which existing facilities possess presently unused capacity. Capital facilities involved should include water systems, sanitary sewer systems, storm water facilities, schools, parks and recreational facilities, police and fire protection facilities.

(b) The selection of levels of service or planning assumptions for the various facilities to apply during the planning period (twenty years or more) and which reflect community goals.

(c) A forecast of the future needs for such capital facilities based on the levels of service or planning assumptions selected and consistent with the growth, densities and distribution of growth anticipated in the land use element.

(d) The creation of a six-year capital facilities plan for financing capital facilities needed within that time frame. Projected funding capacities, are to be evaluated, followed by the identification of sources of public or private funds for which there is reasonable assurance of availability. The six-year plan should be updated at least biennially so that financial planning remains sufficiently ahead of the present for concurrency to be evaluated.

(e) The needs for capital facilities should be dictated by the phasing schedule set forth in the land use element.

(f) Provision should be made to reassess the land use element and other elements of the plan periodically in light of the evolving capital facilities plan. If the probable funding for capital facilities at any time is insufficient to meet existing needs, the land use element must be reassessed. At the same time funding possibilities and levels of service might also be reassessed. The plan should require that as a result of such reassessment, appropriate action must be taken to ensure the internal consistency of the land use and capital facilities portions of the plan. The plan should set forth how, if at all, pending applications for development will be affected while such a reassessment is being undertaken.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-315, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Utilities element.
(1) Requirements. This element shall contain at least the following features: The general location, proposed location, and capacity or all existing and proposed utilities, including, but not limited to, electrical lines, telecommunication lines, and natural gas lines.

(2) Recommendations for meeting requirements. The following steps are recommended in preparing the utilities element:

(a) Integration of the general location and capacity of existing and proposed utility facilities with the land use element of the plan. For the purposes of this step, proposed utilities are understood to be those awaiting approval when the comprehensive plan is adopted.

(b) An analysis of the capacity needs for various utilities over the planning period to serve the growth anticipated at the locations and densities proposed within the jurisdiction's planning area. The analysis of capacity needs should be developed in consultation with serving utilities, including consideration of comprehensive utility plans, least-cost plans, load forecasts, and other planning efforts.

(c) The general location of utility lines and facilities required to furnish anticipated capacity needs for the planning period within the jurisdiction's planning area. This should be developed in consultation with serving utilities as a part of the process of identifying lands useful for public purposes to be carried out by planning jurisdictions.

(d) Evaluation of whether any utilities should be identified and classified as essential public facilities, subject in cases of siting difficulty to the separate siting process established under the comprehensive plan for such facilities.

(e) Evaluation of whether any utilities within the planning area are subject to county-wide planning policies for siting public facilities of a county-wide or statewide nature and if so, the integration of those policies into the local plan for application as relevant.

(f) Creation of local criteria for siting utilities over the planning period, involving:

(i) Consideration of whether any siting proposal is consistent with the locations and densities for growth contemplated in the land use element.

(ii) Consideration of any public service obligations of the utility involved.

(iii) Evaluation of whether the siting decision will adversely affect the ability of the utility to provide service throughout its system.

(iv) Balancing of local design considerations against articulated needs for system-wide uniformity.

(g) Policies should be adopted which call for:

(i) Joint use of transportation rights of way and utility corridors, where possible.

(ii) Timely and effective notification of interested utilities of road construction, and of maintenance and upgrades of existing roads to facilitate coordination of public and private utility trenching activities.

(iii) Consideration of utility permits simultaneously with the proposals requesting service and, when possible, approval of utility permits when the project to be served is approved.

(h) Coordination among adjacent planning jurisdictions to ensure the consistency of each jurisdiction's utilities element and regional utility plans, and to develop a coordinated process for siting regional utility facilities in a timely manner.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.190 (4)(b). 92-23-065, 365-195-320, filed 11/17/92, effective 12/18/92.]


Transportation element.
(1) Requirements. This element shall contain at least the following subelements:

(a) Land use assumptions used in estimating travel;

(b) Facilities and services needs, including:

(i) An inventory of air, water, and land transportation facilities and services, including transit alignments, to define existing capital facilities and travel levels as a basis for future planning;

(ii) Level of service standards for all arterials and transit routes to serve as a gauge to judge performance of the system. These standards should be regionally coordinated;

(iii) Specific actions and requirements for bringing into compliance any facilities or services that are below an established level of service standard;

(iv) Forecasts of traffic for at least ten years based on the adopted land use plan to provide information on the location, timing, and capacity needs of future growth;

(v) Identification of system expansion needs and transportation system management needs to meet current and future demands;

(c) Finance, including:

(i) An analysis of funding capability to judge needs against probable funding resources;

(ii) A multiyear financing plan based on the needs identified in the comprehensive plan, the appropriate parts of which shall serve as the basis for the six-year street, road, or transit program required by RCW 35.77.010 for cities, RCW 36.81.121 for counties, and RCW 35.58.2795 for public transportation systems; (continued)