Data & Resources

GMA comp plan conversation starters

This 12-video package covers everything from roles and responsibilities, budget, and economic development to implementation, and community engagement. Each video is 5-8 minutes long and comes with a set of discussion questions that help you relate the video to your community.

Why a conversation?

These videos and discussion questions can help you update your GMA comprehensive plan and development regulations.

You can watch the videos within your city, or with neighboring cities. AWC worked with planners, city managers and electeds to brainstorm the key concepts facing you during comp plan updates. We wanted to make the conversation relevant. Fall is a good time to look at scope, schedule and budget.

Who can benefit from using GMA comp plan conversation starters?

City staff – You’re working with your planning commission, council and the community. The videos can help get everyone on the same page before you launch your work program. Some of you may want to start regional conversations, perhaps helping you steer areas of potential conflict into places of cooperation.

Elected officials – You don’t have a lot of meeting time. But you can watch the videos before a council meeting or during a work session with staff to discuss your community's issues, your priorities and the resources needed for success.

Planning commissioners – You are on the front line with your community. Your recommendations set the stage for council action. Watch the videos and begin the discussion.

How do you use these resources?

The questions aren’t a cookbook. You’ll want to take the concepts and tailor them to your specific needs. These are suggestions for your community’s conversation. Please consult your city’s attorney and planning staff for specific legal and technical guidance.

Want more?
Take a fresh look at land use planning


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Why your comp plan matters

Land use planning drives everything. Your comp plan lets you manage growth by choice and design, and not by chance. Discussion questions


GMA and budget decisions

You can’t separate your comp plan from your finances. A couple of key questions to consider now during your budget process. Discussion questions


GMA and economic development

Incorporating economic development goals and capital investments into your comp plan yields a healthy return: local jobs, goods and services and increased revenues to help pay for city services. Discussion questions


Form based code: Is it a good fit?

Form-based, design-based, or hybrid code: how to align your comp plan vision with community character. Discussion questions


How do council, staff and commission work together

Cities have three big players. Who does what and how do you stay integrated without interfering with each other. Discussion questions


Your GMA choices: What’s mandatory, what’s optional?

Now is the time to work on emerging community priorities that reflect your changing values and environments. Discussion questions


Strategies to implement your comprehensive plan

Development regulations, capital projects and city-sponsored programs – three basic strategies for implementing your comp plan. How do you stay on target? Discussion questions


Minimizing legal risks 1: Takings and due process

Do you understand due process and the risk for takings? And remember to keep your permit process clear and predictable to reduce your legal exposure. Discussion questions


Minimizing legal risks 2: Sunshine and fishbowls

Due process means staying reasonable, clear and understandable. Sunshine laws give people the right to know what’s happening. Stay transparent and follow the rules with emails and meetings. Discussion questions


GMA, SEPA and the environmental landscape

Environmental protection needs to be an integral part of your comp plan update. How do you weave all the pieces (low impact development, SEPA, CAO) into your plan and have it make sense? Discussion questions


Public engagement

When it comes to public engagement, public hearings and newspaper notices don’t work anymore. But with today’s new communication tools, you’ve got lots of options. Discussion questions


Impact fees made easier

A simple, concise, A to Z look at impact fees. When does a city need an impact fee? What does it pay for? When can’t you use it? How do impacts fees affect development? What’s the council’s role in setting fees?

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