Short Course

What is the Short Course?

The Short Course on Local Planning is an educational program created by the Planning Association of Washington (PAW) in 1975 and administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce. It presents a general overview of land use planning in Washington State to local officials, the development community and interested citizens.

PAW Teaching Session

The course, which is informal and practical, covers the legal basis of planning in Washington state, how to prepare and update comprehensive plans under the state’s Growth Management Act and the tools and techniques available for implementing the plan. Strategies for maintaining good working relationships among planning commissions, elected officials and staff members are also discussed. More than 20,000 planning commissioners, elected officials, staff members and interested citizens have attended and benefited from the course since its inception.

This course, which is typically three hours long and held in the evening, is scheduled anywhere in the state, whenever it is requested by a local community. There is no charge to attend the course. Short Course speakers, usually three, are professionals in law and planning, who volunteer their time. Each speaker makes initial remarks to introduce his or her topic, then welcomes questions from the audience. At the end of the evening, there is an open forum for the discussion of any topic of interest to those attending.

Everyone who attends receives a complementary copy of the course manual, now in its third edition. The short course manual covers legal objectives, citizen participation, growth management, constitutional issues, development tools, environmental legislation, the Shoreline Management Act and county/tribal relations.

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Additional Course Offerings

In addition to the basic Short Course, customized short courses focusing on specific planning topics or for specific audiences can be arranged, such as establishing an Urban Growth Area boundary, downtown and historic preservation planning, property rights in shorelines and critical areas, planning for walkability, and the design review process. The basic short course or a customized course can be provided as a conference session and offered as at no charge for non-conference attendees. A customized course was recently provided at the State Brownfields and Land Revitalization Conference. The short course is offered as a session at all Planning Assocation of Washington conferences and those of the Washington chapter of the American Planning Association. Please allow additional time to coordinate this type of course.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers are always needed to present at short courses. If you would like to improve the quality of planning in Washington State and are interested in being a part of this worthy effort, please contact us.

For More Information

To receive more information on the Short Course, arrange a Short Course in your area, view the schedule of upcoming Short Courses, or watch the video series of the Short Course, please visit the Washington State Department of Commerce GMA Short Course on Local Planning website

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