Friends of Skagit County, WA - promoting livable communities and SmartGrowth in Skagit County

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    Preserving Skagit County's rural character by protecting the environment, supporting        sustainable resource based economies and promoting livable urban communities.



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About the Growth Management Act (GMA)

The Washington Legislature passed The Growth Management Act in 1990 to provide for growth and development, while maintaining the state’s quality of life.  Codified in RCW 36.70A.010, the state law requires the following.

All counties must:

1. designate and protect critical areas
2. designate farm, forest and natural resource lands
3. require adequate water source before issuing permits
4. determine that new growth has provisions for public services

The largest and fastest growing counties must:

1. agree on county-wide planning policies
2. plan for urban growth areas
3. adopt comprehensive plans that include chapters on land use, transportation, capital facilities, utilities, housing, shorelines and rural
4. adopt development regulations that carry out comprehensive plans

The goals of the GMA are:

1. focus urban growth in urban areas
2. reduce sprawl
3. provide efficient transportation
4. encourage affordable housing
5. encourage sustainable economic development
6. protect property rights
7 process permits in timely manner
8. maintain and enhance natural resource-based industries
9. retain open space and habitat areas and develop recreation opportunities
10. protect the environment
11. encourage citizen participation and regional coordination
12. ensure adequate public facilities and services
13. preserve important historic resources.
14. manage shorelines wisely

The GMA authorizes three hearings boards, which resolve disputes about jurisdictions compliance with growth management.  There have been 396 petitions since 1991 in which local plans and regulations have been challenged.

Close to 150 cities and counties have adopted plans to manage growth for a 20-year period.   14 counties have adopted comprehensive plans.  All 39 counties have to designate agricultural lands, and 33 have done this so far. 

About one third of cities and counties are still working on their first comprehensive plans.  Others are amending their plans, including the development of sub-area or neighborhood plans.  Decisions still need to be made about urban growth areas.  Some municipalities have begun monitoring the results of their growth plans.  Changes need to be made in response to new information about population increases, water availability and other issues.

The Washington State department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development has reviewed plans and regulations and offers technical and financial assistance to local governments.  A Land Use Study Commission reviewed land use laws and presented a report to the 1998 Legislature.


Preserving Skagit County's rural character by protecting the environment, supporting sustainable, resource-based economics and promoting livable urban communities.

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