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AGO 1958 No. 153 - February 05, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

PLANNING COMMISSIONS ‑- REFERRAL OF PLATTING REGULATIONS BY CITIES AND COUNTIES TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

The department of commerce and economic development is the proper state agency to which cities and counties refer proposed platting regulations under the provisions of RCW 58.16.120.

                                                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                 February 5, 1958

Honorable H. DeWayne Kreager
Director
Department of Commerce & Economic Development
General Administration Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                        Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 153

Attention:  Mr. A. W. Burchill, Assistant Director

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your request for an opinion on the following question:

            Is the department of commerce and economic development the proper state agency to which cities and counties refer proposed platting regulations under the provisions of RCW 58.16.120?

            We answer your question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            In order to answer your question, it is necessary that an examination and analysis be made of the legislative history of state planning councils since the earliest enactment by the legislature in this state.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Chapter 54, Laws of 1933, Ex. Sess., the first statute on the question, created a Washington state planning council consisting of nine members to be appointed by the governor.  Section 3 of the act authorized the council to

            ". . . prepare and perfect from time to time a state master plan for flood control, state public reservations, financed in whole or in part from moneys collected by the state, sites for state public buildings and for the economical and orderly development of the natural, agricultural and industrial resources of the state. . . ."

            A subsequent legislature enacted chapter 186, Laws of 1937, entitled "An Act relating to the platting, subdivision and dedication of land," which is presently found in chapter 58.16 RCW.  Section 5 of chapter 186, Laws of 1937, reads as follows:

            "To effectuate the policy of this legislation, every legislative or planning authority charged with the duty of passing upon and giving or withholding approval of plats, subdivisions and dedications shall establish reasonable regulations, with the continuing right of amendment thereof, controlling the form of plats, subdivisions and dedications to be filed, the minimum width of streets and alleys, the minimum lot or tract area, street arrangement, provision for improvement of streets and public places and for water supply, sewerage and other public services, dedications of parks, playgrounds and other public places.  No plat, subdivision or dedication shall be approved unless accompanied by a complete survey of the section or sections in which it may be located, with complete field and computation notes showing original or reestablished corners, with description of the same and actual traverse showing error of closure and method of balancing, with sketch showing all distances, angles and calculations required to determine corners and distances of the plat.  The allowable error of closure shall not exceed one (1) foot in four thousand (4,000) feet.  In order that there may be consultation tending toward a reasonable degree of uniformity in such regulations, thelegislative or planning authority shall submit to the State Planning Council at least sixty (60) days in advance of final  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] adoption, its proposed regulations and shall file with the Planning Council a copy of the regulations as finally established by it.  Thereafter amendments thereto shall be likewise submitted to the Planning Council not less than ten (10) days before final adoption and there shall also be filed with the Planning Council a copy of each amendment as finally established by it."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            (Cf. RCW 58.16.120, a codification of a portion of the above statute.  The codifier has substituted "director of conservation and development" for "State Planning Council.")

            Chapter 173, Laws of 1945, established a division of progress and industry development in the department of conservation and development.  Section 2 of the act, provides as follows:

            "The Director of Conservation and Development shall have the power and it shall be his duty through and by means of the Division of Progress and Industry Development to exercise all the powers and perform all the duties now vested in and required to be performed by the Washington State Progress Commission and theWashington State Planning Council and to exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may be provided by law."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Section 4 provided that:

            "The Washington State Progress Commission and the Washington State Planning Council are hereby abolished, but the abolishment of said council and said commission shall not in any way affect the character or scope of the powers or duties conferred upon said commission and said council, which are hereby transferred to the Director of Conservation and Development, nor shall the abolishment of said commission and council affect the validity of any act done or performed by said commission or council or any agent thereof prior to the effective date of this act."

            The latest legislative enactment on the subject is found in § 17, chapter 215, Laws of 1957 (RCW 43.31.170), which provides specifically as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            "From and after the first day of April, 1957, the division of progress and industry development of the department of conservation and development is abolished and the director of the department of commerce and economic development shall exercise all the powers, duties and functions theretofore vested in and required to be exercised by the supervisor of progress and industry development of the department of conservation and development."

            In an opinion to your department dated December 10, 1957, (AGO 57-58 No. 140) [[to A. W. Burchill, Department of Commerce and Economic Development on December 10, 1957]]this office ruled that § 17, chapter 215, Laws of 1957, transferred all duties with regard to planning which had been exercised by or delegated to the division of progress and industry development of the department of conservation and development (now known as the department of conservation) to the director of the department of commerce and economic development.  Section 18 of chapter 215, provides for the delivery of all books, documents, records, etc., used or held by the division of progress and industry development to the department of commerce and economic development.  The section further authorizes the director of the department of commerce to complete any projects undertaken by the division of progress and industry development of the department of conservation and also approves any prior activities undertaken by the division of progress and industry development.

            It is apparent from the citation of the foregoing statutes that the legislature has consistently provided for the transfer of all the powers and duties imposed by RCW 58.16.120 (§ 5, part, chapter 186, Laws of 1937), from one state agency to another.

            It is a basic principle of statutory interpretation that where the intent of the legislature is clearly apparent from a reading of the statute or statutes, there is no room for construction.  Featherstone v. Dessert, 173 Wash. 264, Johnson v. Department of Labor and Industries, 33 Wn. (2d) 399.

            From an analysis of the foregoing statutes, it is our opinion that the legislature clearly intended by § 17, chapter 215, Laws of 1957, to transfer to the department of commerce and economic development all of the duties which had been exercised by the division of progress and industry development prior to the 1957 enactment.  Specifically included among those duties transferred are the ones  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] contained in RCW 58.16.120, with regard to the submission by cities, towns and counties of proposed platting regulations.  Thus, the department of commerce and economic development is now the proper state agency to whom all proposed planning regulations must be submitted by virtue of § 17, chapter 215, Laws of 1957, supra.

            We trust this information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

JANE DOWDEL SMITH
Assistant Attorney General

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