The planning commission provides citizen review and recommendations on planning-related matters to the city, town, county council, or county board of commissioners.
Planning commissions often have two distinct functions.
(1) The first involves preparation and revision of the community's comprehensive plan and local land use regulations, such as the zoning or subdivision code. This role is typically advisory to the local governing body, with the planning board forwarding a recommended plan (or ordinance) to the governing body for consideration.
(2) The second, and frequently most time-consuming, function involves review of development proposals, such as site plans and subdivisions. Not all planning commissions are involved in the development review function. In Washington State, when planning commissions perform this role, typically the commission recommends a decision that the local governing body can approve or disapprove of, or approve of with modifications. In some jurisdictions, the planning commission or hearing examiner may hold the public hearing and make a decision on certain types of land use actions. In these cases, the planning commission's decision would be subject to appeal to the local governing body.
This page is organized into two basic parts.
(1) General information about planning commissions, including by-laws. Planning commission ordinances for code cities, non-code cities/towns, and counties are presented separately because of different statutory requirements.
(2) A portal to selected resources available on the MRSC website and elsewhere about topics that would be useful to planning commission members, especially new commissioners.
Information on Planning Commissions
Code City Planning Commissions
This section includes ordinances, rules of procedure, and general information on code city planning commissions.
Non-Code City Planning Commissions
This section includes ordinances, rules of procedure, and general information on non-code city planning commissions.
County Planning Commissions
This section includes ordinances, rules of procedure, and general information on county planning commissions.
Planning Commission Bylaws and Rules of Procedure
This includes additional examples of planning commission bylaws and rules of procedure.
Selected Articles and Publications about Planning Commissions
Selected Resources for Planning Commissioners
This section is a portal to key resources for planning commissioners in Washington State, including planning information on the MRSC website.
- GMA Short Course on Local Planning, Washington State Department of Commerce - Includes dates of scheduled workshops, videos of past courses, and Short Course Resource Guide ()
- Planners Web, News and information for citizen planners, Planning Commissioners Journal (most articles available for a fee; some free information) - See Planning 101 for basic information for planning commissioners
- Planning, main subject page, MRSC - See contents for specific topics
- Other MRSC Planning Features
- Economic Development, MRSC main subject page
- Effective Communication and Public Participation, MRSC page
- Environment & Natural Resources, MRSC main subject page
- Transportation, MRSC main subject page
Links to Planning Associations and Resources
The following are links to key planning associations and Web resources.
- American Planning Association (many articles require membership and password)
- Washington Chapter, American Planning Association
- Planetizen - A public-interest information exchange for the urban planning, design, and development community. It is a one-stop source for urban planning news, commentary, interviews, event coverage, book reviews, announcements, jobs, consultant listings, training, and more
- Planning Association of Washington
- Western Planner - Publication of planners networking group that represents 13 state planning associations in the western U.S. and Great Plains