Welcome Planning Commissioners and Elected Officials

The mission of the Planning Officials Development Committee (PODC) is to inform and support appointed and elected planning officials in accomplishing effective local planning throughout Washington State by providing them access to relevant resources via the Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association.

If you are a new planning commissioner or elected official (or considering being one), this page is for you! Communities throughout Washington state use volunteer appointed and elected officials to craft comprehensive plans and regulations to implement their vision of their future.

The planning process is complex, and volunteer elected and appointed officials are in need of basic information on process and content to make wise local decisions. To support you, the Washington APA Planning Officials Development Committee (PODC) has provided resources below from our state and beyond.  As a starting point, you should know about the following:

For a broad overview, we recommend you take a Short Course on Local Planning from the Department of Commerce.  For specific advice, we recommend you rely on the advice of your planning staff or city or county attorney.  For a listing of various planning topics, please visit the APA’s Planning Topic Resource Guide. If you have a question, contact the Planning Officials Development Committee at: [email protected].

PODC 2021 Survey Results

We’d like to send big thanks to those who participated in the survey: thank you for taking some of your valuable time to help us help YOU better! The survey presented 7 questions: 4 to help direct our work as a committee, and 3 to give us a sense of who you are and your role in your communities. Your responses help us gather resources that are the most useful to you.

Question 1 asked respondents to rate 7 current state-wide concerns as to their importance to their own communities. Percentages indicate that the topic is “very important” for respondents. Housing overwhelmingly was rated very important for 73% of the respondents. The related concern of Homelessness ranked second at 52%; Social and Environmental Equity and Economic Development/Recovery were very close (44% and 42%, respectively); Climate Change Adaptation and Emergency Planning rated exactly the same at 36%; and Shoreline Planning was very important to 24% of respondents.

Question 2 asked respondents to tell us how difficult it is to find information about each of those topics. Percentages indicate that the topic is “very challenging” to locate useful resources. Here, 32% of respondents had the most difficulty finding information about Homelessness, with Housing second most challenging at 23%. The remaining topics appeared to be fairly easily researched, with only 9 – 18% of respondents having difficulties locating information about them. In fact, Shoreline Planning was rated as relatively easy by 46%, along with Climate Change Adaptation by 41% of respondents!

In Question 3, we asked what types of information would best support your work; percentages indicate how useful each type is to the respondent. Case Studies were preferred, at 89%, followed closely by Best Practices at 77%. Research and Theory was rated useful by 35% of respondents, and 27% found Articles from scholarly or peer-reviewed publications to be of use.

Question 4 gauged which information delivery method you preferred; percentages indicate satisfaction within each delivery method. Online Links were a clear winner here, with 81% preferring to receive information this way; On-demand Webinars 62%, and Live Webinars 38%.

As mentioned previously, the final three questions are demographic in nature, asking for the respondent’s role, organization, and community size. The majority of respondents were planning staff in cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000.

The survey is not comprehensive by any means; as one respondent pointed out, topics did not include Transportation Planning.

Annotated General Resources

 Municipal Research & Services (MRSC) 

is a nonprofit organization charged with providing assistance to local governments throughout Washington State to address a broad variety of civic needs. Browse website topics such as planning, economic development, or environment. Attend training webinars or submit research or legal question to get a free, personalized response from one of MRSC's attorneys or policy experts.

 Association of Washington Cities (AWC) 
AWC is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation, founded in 1933, that represents Washington's cities and towns before the state legislature, the state executive branch and with regulatory agencies. It is also an excellent resource for information, articles and local codes/regulations addressing planning issues. Be sure and visit the series of short video clips titled “
GMA comp plan conversation starters” produced by AWC in conjunction with the WA. Chapter of APA, addressing a variety of planning topics
 Washington State Department of Commerce 
Commerce is the state agency charged with implementing the state’s Growth Management Act.  Visit their topic pages for guidance on various topics such as housing, transportation, and urban growth areas.  Their planning education programs include:
  • The Short Course on Local Planning: Register here for a class on the Legal Basis of Planning, GMA Basics, Roles and Responsibilities of the planning commission, along with a series of 10 videos on all the short course topics, and a more detailed resource guide.  Spring and fall courses are presented each year.
  • Planner’s Forums are generally held quarterly in four areas of the state.  Forums are generally focused topics specific to local areas.
  • GMS Newsletter: Sign up for the monthly “email updates” to get the latest land use news from Washington state agencies.
 Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC)  
WSAC is a voluntary, non-profit association, created in 1906, serving all of Washington’s 39 counties. WSAC members include elected county commissioners, council members, and executives from all of Washington’s 39 counties. WSAC provides links to a number of planning-related topics.
 Web Resources from the National American Planning Association  
Browse a wide variety of topics from resources, many of which are free to access, though some have a cost.   The Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) has their own website at: 
 The Planning Association of Washington (PAW) 
PAW is a member-based organization, focusing on education as a co-sponsor of the Short Course on Local Planning, Planner’s Forums, and their own educational events.
 The Western Planner  
Browse articles from planners across the American West. Free 


is a fiercely independent platform that creates, curates, and amplifies stories and resources to inform planning and people passionate about planning.


Annual Conferences

Statewide annual conferences are a great way to get information about planning topics.  Here are some examples for your consideration.

 More Resources

Committee Members Planning Topic Resource Guide