Critical Areas Regulations Update

The Growth Management Act requires that Snohomish County must periodically review its Critical Areas Regulations (CAR) and update them if needed. The GMA mandated review and update for both its comprehensive plan and development regulations, including CAR, is required for 2024 according to the schedule established in RCW 36.70A.130. The County's critical areas regulations were last updated in 2015.


Any updates to CAR must consider the best available science per the Washington Administrative Code, and the Department of Commerce created a helpful checklist for jurisdictions for this purpose.


Find answers to some key questions about the recent CAR update below:

When will the regulations be updated?

The County will likely adopt updated regulations in December of 2024, which are likely to become effective soon thereafter. 

Where are the current regulations located?

The existing regulations are located in the following chapters of Snohomish County Code:

Is my property subject to these new regulations?

The new regulations will likely apply to all unincorporated areas of the County, except for those properties within Shoreline Jurisdictions.

How do I get involved in the update process? 

There was an early comment period from January 16th through February 7th, 2024 where the public provided feedback on preliminary draft amendments. All comments can be reviewed here. Staff are now working to review and incorporate public comments where possible into versions sent to the Planning Commission.

The 21-day comment period represented an early opportunity for the public to engage with the Critical Areas Regulations update, and there are more upcoming opportunities during the Planning Commission and County Council processes. The Planning Commission will be briefed on the CAR update on April 23rd (subject to change) and a public hearing will take place the following month. The purpose of the hearing is to hear and learn from the public. Oral testimony can be provided during the evening meeting, and written testimony can be provided at any time up until the close of the public hearing. The County Council process will begin after the Planning Commission makes recommendations.

What could change?

Many of the potential amendments proposed within the preliminary drafts are technical corrections, making language consistent with the chapters of the Snohomish County Code (SCC) and some clarifications. Other potential amendments in the preliminary drafts are based on current best available science and implementation. See links below.

Additional Resources related to CAR

How to Get Involved

Please email and