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Concurrency

This page provides an overview of concurrency under the Washington State Growth Management Act, including relevant statutes and examples of local concurrency requirements.



Overview

Concurrency is one of the goals of the Growth Management Act and refers to the timely provision of public facilities and services relative to the demand for them. To maintain concurrency means that adequate public facilities are in place to serve new development as it occurs or within a specified time period. The Growth Management Act (GMA) gives special attention to concurrency for transportation.

The GMA requires that transportation improvements or strategies to accommodate development impacts need to be made concurrently with land development. “Concurrent with the development” is defined by the GMA to mean that any needed "improvements or strategies are in place at the time of development, or that a financial commitment is in place to complete the improvements or strategies within six years." RCW 36.70A.070(6)(b). Local governments have flexibility regarding how to apply concurrency within their plans, regulations, and permit systems.

As part of the requirement to develop a comprehensive plan, jurisdictions are required to establish level-of-service standards (LOS) for arterials, transit service, and other facilities. RCW 36.70A.070(6)(a). Once a jurisdiction sets an LOS, it is used to determine whether the impacts of a proposed development can be met through existing capacity and/or to decide what level of additional facilities will be required.

Transportation is the only area of concurrency that specifies denial of a proposed development if its impacts on the local transportation system would result in LOS dropping below adopted standards. To receive approval, new developments must provide improvements or strategies to handle the new demand concurrent with the development (or provide a financial commitment to complete them within six years).

Local jurisdictions also must have a program to correct existing deficiencies and bring existing transportation facilities and services up to locally adopted standards. If meeting adopted LOS is not feasible, local jurisdictions may need to revisit comprehensive plan goals and LOS to consider how they may be adjusted while still implementing the community's vision. A developer may not be required to pay for improvements to correct existing deficiencies.

Local jurisdictions may adopt a concurrency mechanism for other public facilities that are deemed necessary for development. WAC 365-196-840(2). These other facilities may include parks and recreational facilities, sanitary sewer systems, stormwater facilities, and schools.

Although the GMA does not require denial when facilities other than transportation facilities are inadequate, the subdivision statute and other laws may require improvements (see RCW 58.17.110).


Legal References

Statutes and Administrative Regulations

Selected Court and Growth Management Hearings Board Decisions

  • Whatcom County Fire Dist. No. 21 v. Whatcom County, 171 Wn.2d 421 (2011) - Fire protection concurrency

    The court addressed a dispute between the county and a fire district over whether completion of certain proposed developments would reduce fire protection services below an adequate level of service. The court found that the county assigned responsibility for assessing the adequacy of fire protection services to the district, and it reversed the county's approval of the land use applications at issue in this case because the county had not received specific written acknowledgment by the fire district that adequate capacity does or will exist to maintain an appropriate level of fire protection service upon completion of the proposed developments.

  • City of Bellevue v. E. Bellevue Cmty. Mun. Corp., 119 Wn. App. 405 (2003), review denied, 152 Wn.2d 1004 (2004) - transportation concurrency

    Affirms the Growth Management Hearings Board's conclusion that the Bellevue ordinance, which exempted shopping center redevelopment from transportation concurrency requirements, failed to conform to the GMA's concurrency requirements, and is invalid.  The court held that, under the clear and plain language of RCW 36.70A.070(6)(b), the city cannot create exemptions to its concurrency ordinance.

  • Abenroth v. Skagit County, Western Washington GMHB Case No. 97-2-0060c; 07-2-0002, Amended Final Decision and Order, August 6, 2007 - Transportation concurrency

    The county authorized an exception to transportation LOS standards if the developer makes a fair share contribution to a regional improvement in the case of sites located where regional improvements are the only means to improve or maintain the level of service existing prior to the development. The board concluded that the exception allows a reduction below the adopted LOS where there is no reasonable assurance the regional improvement will be constructed, and it held the exception to be noncompliant with RCW 36.70A.070(6) because it did not contain sufficient direction to ensure that the exception still meets the requirements for transportation concurrency.


General Concurrency Information

This section includes background information, including studies and articles, on concurrency.  Most of these resources address transportation concurrency in particular.


Examples of Concurrency Provisions

Cities

Counties


Local Government Concurrency Information and Documents

This section includes information on transportation concurrency and sample concurrency application forms from Washington jurisdictions. Bellingham and Redmond have developed multimodal transportation concurrency programs.


Examples of Concurrency Application Forms


Last Modified: July 12, 2021