How to File a Petition For Review

Filing a Petition for Review is a five-step process.

  1. Determine eligibility
  2. Prepare a written document that identifies the action being challenged, the reasons for the petition, and other information, including a copy of the challenged action.
  3. File the document with the Growth Management Hearings Board.
  4. Serve the agency that took the action that is being appealed.
  5. Prepare a Declaration of Service


There is no fee to file a Petition for Review.

When appealing a decision of the GMHB, a cost of 15 cents per page will be charged to produce a certified record for the court.


A Petition for Review must be filed within sixty days of publication of the local government’s challenged final action. The petition must be received by the board no later than 5 p.m. on the last of the sixty days. Petitions filed after this date will be dismissed.

City and county governments may take several days or weeks to publish notices of their final actions. Contact the city or county clerk to find out the publication date.

When the challenged action concerns a Shoreline Master Program, the sixty-day time limit is measured from the date the Department of Ecology publishes notice of its final approval or denial of the Shoreline Master Program.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Not everyone can bring a case before the Growth Management Hearings Board. Only an aggrieved person, organization, or government who has “standing” may file a Petition for Review with the board.

Ensure Standing

The Growth Management Act identifies the following four types of standing:

  • Participation standing: A person who has participated orally or in writing in the public participation process for the adoption of the challenged action. The testimony or written comments must have raised the disputed issues in sufficient detail to provide the local government with the opportunity to consider these concerns. The board applies this same standard to an organization. However, to achieve organizational standing, the organization also must have clarified that people who testified or submitted written comments were representing the organization and not themselves.
  • Governmental standing: A state agency, county, or city subject to the Growth Management Act that seeks review of the action of other agencies, counties, or cities.
  • Governor-certified standing: A person who has not participated in the public process but obtains certification from the Governor to challenge the action of an agency, county, or city.
  • Administrative Procedures Act standing: A person or entity who satisfies the requirements of Revised Code of Washington 34.05.530 to bring a Petition for Review before the board.

State Environmental Policy Act Challenges

Before bringing a State Environmental Policy Act challenge, a petitioner should review the board’s decisions on State Environmental Policy Act standing (see the Digest, key word “Standing” or “State Environmental Policy Act”). In a State Environmental Policy Act case, the petitioner must have exhausted any administrative remedies offered by the jurisdiction before petitioning the board.

Meet the Standard of Review

The petitioner has the burden of proving the action taken was clearly erroneous in all matters that come before the board. Under the Growth Management Act Standard of Review, the board must find that the local government’s action is in compliance with the Act unless it determines the action is clearly erroneous in view of the entire record before the board and in light of the goals and requirements of the Act.

The Act and court precedent both specify that legislative actions of city and county governments are presumed valid upon adoption; the board is required to show deference to the local government’s choices in planning for growth and allow it discretion in adapting the requirements of the Act to local circumstances so long as those decisions are consistent with the goals and requirements of the Act.

For a petitioner, this sets a high hurdle for proving an action did not comply with the goals and requirements of the Act. When making its decision, the board will look at the entire record, focusing on those parts of the record provided by the parties as exhibits, to determine compliance. The board will not substitute its own preferences or judgment for the choices made by elected officials so long as those choices fall within the parameters of the Act.

If the action concerns a Shoreline Master Program, the board's review is based on the requirements and policy of the Shoreline Management Act, the Shoreline Master Program Guidelines found in Washington Administrative Code (Chapter 173-26), and the Growth Management Act internal consistency requirements for comprehensive plans and development regulations, or State Environmental Policy Act compliance. However, if the appeal concerns a Shoreline of Statewide Significance, the board only may consider Shoreline Management Act policy and guidelines and must uphold the Department of Ecology’s approval or denial unless the board finds clear and convincing evidence that Ecology’s decision is inconsistent with Shoreline Management Act policy and guidelines.

Step 2: Prepare the Petition for Review

The party with standing, called the petitioner, who is alleging violations of the Growth Management Act, files the Petition for Review. The petition must contain the following information:

  • Name, address, phone number, and e-mail address of petitioners and organization, if there is one.
  • Name, address, phone number, and e-mail address of lawyer, if represented by one.
  • Respondents: The city, county, and/or state agency whose action is challenged.
  • The challenged action (i.e., ordinance, resolution, motion).
  • Date of publication of the challenged action or publication of the Department of Ecology’s approval or denial of the Shoreline Master Program.
  • A detailed statement of the issues that includes the specific section of the Growth Management Act, Shoreline Management Act, or State Environmental Policy Act that the petitioner is alleging the action violates and, if applicable, the specific sections of the city’s or county’s document (i.e., development regulation, comprehensive plan, or Shoreline Master Program) being appealed.
  • A statement showing why the petitioner has standing to bring the action. The petitioner does not need to provide evidence in support of the claims of standing. If the respondent challenges standing, the petitioner will be given the opportunity to provide additional evidence to support the petitioner's position.
  • A statement about the specific relief sought by the petitioner.
  • Attestation statement
  • Signature of petitioners, petitioners’ lawyer or representative
  • A copy of the challenged action or applicable provisions.

Statement of Issues

The statement of the issues is the most vital element of the petition. The petition may have one or several issues. The issues are the specific questions the petitioner would like the board to address. The issues should be framed as questions, written in a YES or NO format, and be concise and to the point.

The legal issues are an allegation, not an argument. The petition is not the place to argue the merits of the case. The petitioner and respondent will have the opportunity to argue their cases in their prehearing briefs.

Each legal issue must indicate the specific sections of the Growth Management Act, Shoreline Management Act, or State Environmental Policy Act alleged to be violated and the specific sections (or aspects) of the city, county, or state actions that petitioner alleges cause the violation.

Petition for Review Template

Step 3: File the Petition

Next, the petition must be filed with the board electronically through the board’s online Case Management System (CMS). If the petitioner does not have the technological capacity to file electronically through the CMS or if filing through the CMS is not possible, the petitioner may file the appeal by personal delivery, commercial delivery, fax, e-mail, or mail.

File Using CMS

  1. Start at the CMS portal. DO NOT start at the SecureAccess Washington web page.
  2. Click “Create a User Account or Log in.”
  3. You will be routed to a page that looks just like the usual SecureAccess Washington login, but has this web address: If you do not see this web address, you may have started from the wrong place and will need to go to the CMS portal.
  4. From this page you can create a new account or log in with your existing SecureAccess Washington credentials. Note: If you have an existing SecureAccess Washington account, log out of it the first time you file something with the board.
  5. You will be redirected back to the page where you started, but will no longer see the “Create a User Account or Log in” button. If you continue to get an error, please e-mail ELUHO and include the web address (URL) of the error page in your e-mail.
  6. Once in the CMS, select “File a New Appeal/Petition for Review.” Fill in the fields, upload appeal documents, and answer the questions on the electronic form. Enter an electronic signature and select “Submit Case & Documents” to file the appeal.

NOTE: If a person files through the CMS, the board will serve its orders on that person through the CMS.

The board will e-mail a confirmation that it received the petition via the CMS. The CMS e-mail will have an address of Be sure to check junk and spam e-mail folders and make ELUHO a safe sender.

File by Mailing or Delivering in Person

Deliver a copy of the petition and other documents related to the appeal to ELUHO.

Mailing Address
PO Box 40903
Olympia, WA 98504-0903

Street Address
1111 Israel Road Southwest, Suite 301
Tumwater, Washington 98501

File by E-mail

E-mail the petition and other documents to the region where the case arose as shown in the map.

Central Puget Sound
Eastern Washington
Western Washington

File by Fax

The petition and other documents may be faxed to 360-586-2253.

IMPORTANT: The petition will be considered filed on the date it is received by the board not the date it was sent or uploaded. The filing must be received by 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on a board business day to be considered filed on that day.


Telephone: 360-664-9170

Relay Service for the Hearing Impaired, call 711

Amending the Petition

A petition may be amended within fourteen days of filing to restate or clarify the petitioner’s legal issues, but no new issues may be added. After fourteen days, the petitioner must file a written Motion to Amend the petition if changes are needed.

Document Format

Original documents must be single-sided and two-hole punched at the top; copies are to be double-sided and three-hole punched at the left-hand side.

Step 4: Serve the Petition

The petition must be served by mail or personal service on each named respondent and must be received by the respondent on or before the date filed with the board. See Washington Administrative Code 242-03-230(2).

Step 5: Prepare a Declaration of Service

The Declaration of Service states that papers were served upon the noted parties and the date service was completed. A Declaration of Service is required for all legal documents filed with the board and served on the parties.

Declaration of Service Template

Need Assistance?

Petitioners may contact the board’s office if they need clarification on filing and formatting requirements. If any party lacks the technical capability to file or receive documents electronically, including briefs with overlarge attachments, contact the board’s office. The presiding officer will work with the parties at the prehearing conference to make alternative arrangements for filing and service.

Next Steps

After receiving a petition, the board will assign a case number and a presiding officer. Within ten days of receiving the petition, the presiding officer will issue a preliminary schedule, identify the panelists assigned to hear the case, and provide other essential information.

Receiving a Petition

A respondent who receives a petition must promptly file a Notice of Appearance with the board and serve all parties, including the petitioner.

Index to the Record

The respondent jurisdiction must submit the Index to the Record within thirty days from the petition’s filing. This index is a numbered list of all the information, written and oral, that the city, county, or state agency relied on to make its decision on the action being challenged. In essence, the index is a table of contents that may be arranged chronologically, by topic, or by the entity that considered the action (i.e., planning commission, council committee).