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),
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),
and the State Environmental Policy Act
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
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.