Washington Law Review


In 1990, the Washington Legislature enacted the Growth Management Act (GMA) intending to reduce urban sprawl and manage development throughout the state. In 1991, the GMA was amended to include an administrative dispute resolution system, involving three independent regional Growth Management Hearings Boards ("Boards") empowered to hear petitions and to determine whether a county or city is complying with the GMA. The breadth of discretion given to the Boards to scrutinize local government land use policies has prompted a barrage of criticism from both local governments and the regulated community. The tension is attributable to factors within the control of the Legislature and the Boards and also to factors external to the Boards. This Comment examines the role and scope of authority of the Boards as provided in the GMA and as demonstrated in the activities of the Boards since their creation. Major criticisms of the Boards are analyzed along with several external factors that have contributed greatly to the rising tensions. Finally, this Comment recommends amending the GMA to maintain the current benefits provided by the Boards while reducing the antagonism directed at them.

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