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Capital Facilities Planning

This page provides information about capital facilities planning for cities and counties in Washington State, including statutes and regulations, useful resources, and sample plans and policies.


The purpose of capital facilities planning is to:

  •  Provide adequate public facilities to serve existing and new development
  •  Reduce the cost of serving new development with public facilities
  •  Ensure that these facilities will be in place when development occurs.

The capital facilities plan is a six or more year plan of capital projects with estimated costs and proposed methods of financing that is updated annually.

The Washington State Growth Management Act requires jurisdictions fully planning under the GMA to include a capital facilities plan element in their comprehensive plans (RCW 36.70A.070(3)). The capital facilities element is required before a jurisdiction can impose GMA impact fees. Other jurisdictions are required to have a capital facilities plan before imposing certain taxes, such as the real estate excise tax and to qualify for state funding for capital facilities.

The capital facilities plan implements the land use element of the comprehensive plan, and these two elements, including the financing plan within the capital facilities element, must be coordinated and consistent. The GMA also requires a separate transportation element.

The Washington State Department of Commerce, Growth Management Services Capital Facilities Planning page is an excellent starting point for information on capital facilities planning. It includes a capital facilities planning tool available for downloading to help jurisdictions develop capital facilities plans.

Statutes and Administrative Regulations

Growth Management Act

  • RCW 36.70A.070(3) – Capital facilities is one of the mandatory elements of comprehensive plan, Growth Management Act (also see (6)(B) and (C) regarding level of service and transportation)
  • RCW 36.70A.020 – Planning goals (1) and (12)
  • RCW 36.70A.030(12) – Public facilities definition
  • WAC 365-196-415 – Capital facilities element  

Other state statutes

  • RCW 58.17.110(2) – Consideration of public facilities for a subdivision and conditions for approval
  • RCW 82.02.050(4) – Impact fees. Requires capital facilities plan prior to imposition of GMA impact fees to finance system improvements related to the new development
  • RCW 82.46.035(5)(b) – “Capital project” definition, for real estate excise tax

General Resources on Capital Facility Planning

The following provide background and general information regarding capital facility planning.

Examples of Capital Budget Policies

The following are general capital budget and capital improvement program policies found in budget documents.

Examples of Capital Facilities Plans

Some of these capital facilities elements and plans have been recommended as good examples in the past by Growth Management Services at the Washington State Department of Commerce. These are noted with *. 

Infrastructure-Related Information

The following address infrastructure funding and resources in Washington State and may be useful in developing capital facilities plans.

Last Modified: April 02, 2021