Buildable Lands Program

The Buildable Lands Program is a requirement under the Washington Growth Management Act (GMA) for the state’s fastest growing counties — including Thurston County — to periodically evaluate development trends to ensure consistency with GMA’s land use goals. A draft of the 2021 Buildable Lands Report is available below.

2021 Buildable Lands Report

About Buildable Lands

Growth Management Act

The Buildable Lands Report is a monitoring report to determine if growth in Thurston County is consistent with the goals of the state Growth Management Act (GMA). In particular, it answers two key growth-related questions:

  • Is residential development in the urban growth areas occurring at the densities envisioned in local comprehensive plans?
  • Is there adequate land in the urban growth areas for the projected growth in population and employment?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, Thurston County and its cities and towns are required to identify reasonable measures in their 2025 periodic Comprehensive Plan updates to bring development trends into alignment with GMA. The 2021 Buildable Lands Report found that Thurston County is developing consistent with GMA's goals and reasonable measures are not necessary.

Sustainable Thurston

Creating Places — Preserving Spaces: A Sustainable Development Plan for the Thurston Region (2013) identified 12 priority goals for the Thurston Region, goals that in many cases are more ambitious than GMA. Two goals included land use targets:

  • Create vibrant centers, corridors, and neighborhoods while accommodating growth. Target: By 2035, 72% of all (new and existing) households in our cities, towns, and unincorporated urban growth areas will be within a half-mile (comparable to a 20-minute walk) of an urban center, corridor, or neighborhood center with access to goods and services to meet some of their daily needs.
  • Preserve environmentally sensitive lands, farmlands, forest lands, prairies, and rural lands and develop compact urban areas. Target: Between 2010 and 2035, no more than 5% of new housing will locate in the rural areas, and 95% will be within cities, towns, unincorporated urban growth areas, and tribal reservations. Rural areas are defined as outside of the cities, towns, unincorporated urban growth areas, and tribal reservations.

The 2021 Buildable Lands Report finds that the Thurston region is not on track to meet these targets by 2035. The Buildable Lands Advisory Committee recommended strategies for jurisdictions to consider as part of their 2025 Comprehensive Plan updates that would move the region closer to its Sustainable Thurston goals.

Advisory Committee

The Buildable Lands Report update is overseen by an advisory committee consisting of jurisdiction staff, members of the real estate and development community, and citizen representatives. The committee provides input on land capacity and forecast model assumptions, reasonable measures, and report recommendations.

Advisory Committee Meeting Materials