WA Senate passes bill to lift ‘intermediate housing’ zoning restrictions

Senate lawmakers in Washington approved a bill Tuesday that would lift restrictions on certain types of multi-family properties, called “intermediate housing,” in areas zoned for single-family homes amid a statewide housing supply shortage. The term “intermediate housing” refers to duplexes, quadruples, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which have gained popularity in recent years.

The bill is part of a larger push to diversify the types of homes that can be built in Washington neighborhoods.

The Senate passed House Bill 1110 with a bipartisan vote of 35-14. The goal of the bill is to “increase median housing in areas traditionally devoted to detached single-family homes,” according to the bill. description about him Washington State Legislature website.

“The legislature determines that Washington faces an unprecedented housing shortage for its current population and without significant action will not meet its goal of create 1,000,000 homes by 2044”, says the bill. “Increasing housing options that are more affordable for various income levels is critical to achieving the state’s housing goals, including those codified by the legislature. […].”

Supporters describe the measure as necessary to combat high housing costs in the Pacific Northwest, which has also led to an increase in homelessness.

“We just don’t have enough housing in this state.” said Senator Yasmin Trudeau, D-Tacoma. “This problem affects every city in every county in the state and it is a bigger problem than any city or county has been able to address thus far.”

Opponents of the bill, on the other hand, argue that too much power has already been taken away from zoning authorities at the local level.

“I support local communities so they can figure out what their community is like without the state of Washington hitting them with a hammer telling them they need to do this,” said Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn.

TO earlier version of the measure that would have banned single-family zoning within the state passed the Washington House of Representatives in March. The current version approved by the Senate will now return to the lower body to enter the reconciliation process.

If that process is completed, the bill will go to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to be codified into law.

“Among other changes, the Senate version is more lenient with the requirements it imposes on small cities in suburban Seattle,” said the seattle times informed. “The House could approve the changes made by the Senate or the two bodies could try to resolve their differences.”

Senator John Braun, who resides in the city of Centralia and leads the Republican minority in the state Senate, described the bill as a way to further protect business interests and property rights.

“When cities say you can only build one house on your half-acre lot, that restricts your right to use your property as you would like,” Braun said.

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