Land use around airports

One of the main challenges facing aviation today is the encroachment of incompatible land use development near and around airports. To meet this challenge, we developed the Airport Land Use Compatibility Program.

In 1996, Washington State passed land-use legislation (RCW 36.70A.510, RCW 36.70.547). Under this provision of the Growth Management Act (GMA), all towns, cities, and counties are required to discourage encroachment of incompatible development adjacent to public use airports through the adoption of comprehensive plan policies and development regulations. GMA also identifies airports as essential public facilities. WSDOT Aviation provides a technical assistance program to help communities meet the requirements of the law. The objectives of the program are to:

  • Ensure the functions and values of airports are protected and enhanced statewide.
  • Assist towns, cities, and counties in meeting update deadlines for comprehensive plans and development regulations.
  • Provide education, workshops, and training on best practices to protect airports from adjacent incompatible development and enhance airport operations to meet transportation demand.
  • Showcase the good work of local governments in implementing GMA requirements.

Airport and Compatible Land-Use Program guidebook

WSDOT Aviation has an Airport and Compatible Land-Use Program Guidebook to better assist airports, local jurisdictions, elected officials, and aviation advocates in meeting planning requirements outlined in state law.

The guidebook does not change land-use requirements for towns, cities, and counties. Instead, the new version will use graphics and visuals to present land-use planning concepts in an engaging, reader-friendly way.

Executive Summary (PDF 443KB)

For aviation land use application submittals and inquiries please email

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