About GMHB

The Growth Management Act
and the Growth Management Hearings Board

The mission of the Growth Management Hearings Board is to help local governments manage growth and to serve the citizens of the State of Washington. They do so by making informed decisions on appeals arising from the implementation of the Growth Management Act in a clear, consistent, timely and impartial manner that recognizes the diversity of the three board jurisdictional regions.

With the passage of the Growth Management Act (GMA), RCW 36.70A, in 1990, the Washington State Legislature sought to create a method for comprehensive land use planning involving citizens, communities, counties, cities, and the private sector that would prevent uncoordinated and unplanned growth. The Legislature found this type of uncontrolled growth posed a threat to the environment, sustainable economic development, and the health, safety, and high quality of life enjoyed by residents of Washington State. To address this threat, the GMA requires counties of a certain size and growth rate, and the cities within them, to adopt comprehensive plans and development regulations which are guided by 14 goals which include the consideration of transportation, housing, economic development, natural resource industries, property rights, and the environment.

Although the GMA permits direct review by the courts, rather than have GMA disputes proceed directly to the court, the Legislature established the Growth Management Hearings Boards and authorized that these Boards “hear and determine” allegations that a city, county, or state agency has not complied with the goals and requirements of the GMA, and related provisions of the Shoreline Management Act (SMA), RCW 90.58, and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), RCW 43.21C.

In order to recognize regional differences, the Legislature originally created three Growth Management Hearings Boards: the Eastern Board for counties and cities east of the Cascade Mountains; the Central Puget Sound Board for the four Central Puget Sound counties and the cities within these counties; and the Western Board for all other counties and cities west of the Cascade Mountains. Each Board was a quasi-judicial panel comprised of three individuals appointed by the Governor for staggered six-year terms.

On March 25, 2010 the Governor signed SSB 6214 which consolidated the three boards into one. The bill left intact the regional structure to hear cases in the three regions from which they arose.