Background - 2016
Growth Management Act (GMA)
In 1990, Washington adopted the Growth Management Act, RCW 36.70A (GMA). The GMA requires certain counties and cities to develop and adopt comprehensive land use plans that anticipate population and employment growth needs. Plans must look forward at least 20 years.
The GMA requires comprehensive plans to consist of these elements: land use, housing, capital facilities, utilities, rural (for counties), transportation, economic development and parks and recreation (36.70A.070 RCW).
A comprehensive plan also may include optional elements related to the physical development in its respective jurisdiction. Examples include: schools, historic preservation and community design (36.70A.080 RCW).
The GMA also requires jurisdictions to periodically review their comprehensive plans and implementing development regulations in their entirety and, if needed, revise them. Clark County is required to have the current review and revision completed by June 30, 2016, and every eight years thereafter (36.70A.130(5)(b) RCW). Opportunities for public participation in this process continue to be provided (36.70A.035 RCW).
Planning in Clark County
Clark County has a long planning history. The Board of County Commissioners created and established a County Planning Department and Planning Commission as early as 1935. In 1959, the state legislature approved a new statute (RCW 36.70), which applied specifically to county, regional and joint planning programs. The 1959 statute led to the adoption of the county’s first Comprehensive Plan in 1960.
Here’s our land use planning history:
- 1935: Clark County established first county planning department and advisory planning commission
- 1960: First Clark County Comprehensive Plan
- 1979: Second Clark County comprehensive plan which initiated Urban Services Boundaries, a predecessor of the 1994 state mandated Urban Growth Boundaries required by GMA.
- 1994: Comprehensive plan resulted in 41,229 acres, or 64.42 square miles, of urban growth areas. It planned for growth from 1994 to 2014.
- 1995: Plan was remanded by the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board for inconsistency between population projections and capital facilities planning.
- 1997: Revision of 1994 plan to comply with the hearings board findings
- 2004: Clark County adopts 2004 Comprehensive Plan update. 6,124 acres, or 9.57 square miles, of growth areas added.
- 14 appeals challenged the 2004 plan focused, in part, on a last-minute reduction in the assumed growth rate, moving it from 1.83 percent to 1.69 percent.
- 2007: Revision of 2004 plan. 12,023 acres added to urban growth areas.
Appeals challenged the 2007 plan, arguing the county had erroneously moved 4,351 acres from agricultural designation to a non-resource designation and included those lands in urban growth areas.
As a result of the appeals process, 1,500 acres of rezoned land was ruled invalid. Those lands were removed from urban growth areas and again designated as agricultural lands.
Between Clark County comprehensive plan updates, annual adjustments (i.e. Annual Reviews) to the plan are made in response to city annexations and citizen requests for specific sites. Meanwhile, numerous changes in regulations help implement the plan.