This page provides an overview of concurrency under the Washington State Growth Management Act, including relevant statutes and examples of local concurrency requirements.
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).
This section includes background information, including studies and articles on concurrency. Most of these resources address transportation concurrency in particular.
- Puget Sound Council: Assessing the Effectiveness of Concurrency: Final Report (2003) – Includes overview and "A Regional Perspective" on the effectiveness of transportation concurrency, developed in response to Destination 2030
- University of Washington: Concurrency Study (2007) – Includes reports from 2003 and 2006
- American Planning Association: Moving Beyond the Automobile, Multi-modal Transportation Planning in Bellingham, Washington (2009) – This Practicing Planner article describes Bellingham's innovative system of multimodal transportation concurrency management
- WA State Department of Commerce: Your Community’s Transportation System: A Guide to Reviewing, Updating and Implementing Your Transportation Element (2012) – See Ch. 6D on Concurrency Management Systems
- WA State Department of Transportation: Growth Management Act (GMA) Comprehensive Plan Resources – See Concurrency section
- Bellevue Municipal Code Ch. 14.10 – Traffic Standards Code. See Sec. 14.10.030 for level-of-service standard. Also see Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) and City of Bellevue Multimodal Concurrency Pilot Project (2009).
- Bellingham Municipal Code Ch. 13.70 – Multimodal Transportation Concurrency Management - Good example of application of concurrency to various modes of transportation, including pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and arterial streets
- Gig Harbor
- Kent Municipal Code Ch. 12.11 – Concurrency Management
- Spokane Municipal Code Ch. 17D.010 – Concurrency Certification
- Tacoma Municipal Code Ch. 13.16 – Concurrency Management System (in Title 13)
- Tumwater Municipal Code Ch. 15.48 – Transportation Concurrency Requirements
- Zillah Municipal Code Ch. 17.10 – Concurrency Review
- Clark County Code Ch. 40.350.020 – Transportation Concurrency Management System
- Snohomish County Code Ch. 30.66B – Concurrency and Road Impact Mitigation
- Thurston County Code Ch. 17.10 – Transportation Facilities Concurrency Management System
This section includes information on transportation concurrency programs from Washington jurisdictions. Bellingham and Redmond have developed multimodal transportation concurrency programs.
- Bellingham Transportation Concurrency – Provides a unique but very transferable method of integrating land use context and densities with multimodal transportation facilities and services, both to comply with GMA Concurrency requirements and to implement Bellingham’s infill land use strategy and multimodal transportation policies in the comprehensive plan. Includes multiple concurrency studies.
- King County Road Services Transportation Concurrency Program – Includes Transportation Needs Report (TNR), arterial function classification map, and annual concurrency update
- Pierce County Transportation Concurrency – Includes link to transportation concurrency management annual report
- Redmond Concurrency Management and Level of Service – Multimodal plan-based transportation concurrency system
- Renton Transportation Concurrency Program
- Snohomish County
- Vancouver Concurrency – Includes Transportation Concurrency Administrative Manual
- Yakima City Traffic Concurrency – Includes application
- Bothell Concurrency Application (2020)
- Kirkland Concurrency Management Guidelines and Application (2020)
- Kitsap County Public Works Concurrency Test Application (2016)
- Oak Harbor Transportation Concurrency Review Process and Application (2021)
- Tumwater Concurrency Application (2018)
- RCW 36.70A.020(12) – Planning goals
- RCW 36.70A.070(6)(b) – Comprehensive plans - Mandatory elements
- WAC 365-196-210 – Definitions of terms as used in this chapter (7)
- WAC 365-196-840 – Concurrency
- WAC 365-196-415 – Capital facilities element
Below is list of key court and Growth Management Hearings Board decisions regarding concurrency.
Fire Protection Concurrency
Whatcom County Fire Dist. No. 21 v. Whatcom County, 171 Wn.2d 421 (2011) – 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) – 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 Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) Case No. 97-2-0060c; 07-2-0002, Amended Final Decision and Order (2007) – 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.