Review & Evaluation Program (Buildable Lands)

The Washington State legislature amended the Growth Management Act (GMA) in 1997 to include a “review and evaluation program,” also known as the buildable lands program (RCW 36.70A.215). At that time, the review and evaluation program applied to six counties: Clark, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston. The State legislature amended the GMA in 2017 to add Whatcom County to the list of counties required to undertake a review and evaluation program (ESSSB 5254). The State Department of Commerce issued "Buildable Lands Guidelines" in 2018.

The review and evaluation program has two main purposes, which are summarized below:

  • Determine whether a county and its cities are achieving urban densities within urban growth areas by comparing growth and development assumptions contained in the county and city comprehensive plans with actual growth and development that has occurred; and
  • Identify reasonable measures, if necessary, to reduce the differences between growth and development assumptions contained in the county and city comprehensive plans with actual development patterns.

Components of the Review and Evaluation Program include updating county-wide planning policies, annual collection of data, developing a buildable lands program methodology, reviewing achieved densities, evaluating land suitable for development, and issuing the Buildable Lands Report. The information contained in the Buildable Lands Report will inform the next update of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, which is due by June 30, 2025.  

Planning Commission Recommendation

On Thursday October 13, 2022, the Whatcom County Planning Commission held a public hearing and issued a recommendation that the County Council adopt of the Buildable Lands Report.

County Council Meetings

The County Planning and Development Services Department made a presentation on the Buildable Lands Report to the Whatcom County Council's Planning and Development Committee on November 9, 2022.  The County Council's Planning and Development Committee discussed the Buildable Lands Report on December 6, 2022 and January 10, 2023.  The County Council's Planning and Development Committee will discuss the Report again on Tuesday January 24, 2023. 

It is anticipated that the County Council will hold a public hearing and consider adopting the Buildable Lands Report at a later date.  County Council agendas are available here.


Documents developed for the Review and Evaluation Program may be accessed by clicking the links below:

*  Stakeholder Interview Summary (May 2019)

*  Background Information and Key Issues Report (June 2019)

*  Public Participation Plan (April 2020)

     *  Land Owners Survey (September 2020)

     *  Adopted Countywide Planning Policies (February 2021)

     *  Review and Evaluation Program Methodology (February 2022)

     *  Buildable Lands Report (July 2022)


Whatcom County and the cities worked together on the Review and Evaluation Program.  If you have questions about the Program, please contact the appropriate planner for your jurisdiction, as shown below:


Chris Behee, Long Range Planning Manager, or 360-778-8346


Stacie Pratschner, Community Development Services Director, or 360-332-8311


Rollin Harper, Everson City Planner, or 360-733-6033


Michael Cerbone, Community Development Director, or 360-685-2367


Heidi Gudde, Planning & Community Development Director, or 360-354-5532


Rollin Harper, Nooksack City Planner, or 360-733-6033


Rollin Harper, Sumas City Planner, or 360-733-6033

Whatcom County (for properties outside city limits)

Matt Aamot, Senior Planner, or 360-778-5939

Contact Us

Matt Aamot
Senior Planner
Phone: 360-778-5939
Staff Directory