Zoning

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*Green icons = bill is moving forward; Yellow = delayed or facing hurdles; Red = failed

Housing

Housing density — and where that density happens — is a big topic this legislative session. A Crosscut/Elway Poll found 55% of Washington voters didn’t approve of getting rid of single-family zoning in medium- to large-sized cities but measures filed in the House and Senate propose such moves to allow duplexes, triplexes and quads in many residential neighborhoods across the state. 

Senate Bill 5428 - Easing tiny home construction for unhoused people

Official bill information: Senate Bill 5428

Description of the bill: This bill would exempt some tiny home villages from the State Environmental Policy Act review process, making them faster and easier to build. Areas that have declared a homelessness state of emergency — including Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, King County and Thurston County — could exempt tiny home villages from SEPA review. To qualify, the homeless communities must include fewer than 200 beds and exist for no more than five years. They also must adopt a waste mitigation plan and install a community advisory committee to address any issues with neighbors. Proponents argue that this bill would cut the red tape, paving the way for a swifter, more nimble homelessness response. One lawmaker countered that he’s skeptical about exempting some kinds of development from SEPA review and not others.

Status: Stalled in the Senate Rules Committee.

House Bill 1782 and Senate Bill 5670 - Single Family Zoning Changes

Official Bill information: House Bill 1782 and Senate Bill 5670

Description of the bills: These bills would require cities of more than 10,000 people to allow duplexes in single-family zones. They would additionally allow triplexes and quadruplexes on all lots within a half mile of major transit stops in cities with more than 20,000 people. The idea isn’t new — lawmakers floated a similar pair of bills during the 2020 legislative session, but both died in committee. In these new versions, cities can opt out if they instead adopt certain density requirements (40 dwellings per acre in cities with more than 500,000 people, 30 dwellings per acre in cities with more than 100,000 people, 25 dwellings per acre in cities with more than 20,000 people and 15 dwellings per acre in cities with more than 10,000 people). Proponents, including Gov. Jay Inslee, say the bills would ease the state’s housing shortage by increasing the number of “middle housing” units. Opponents argue that the bills would functionally eliminate single-family neighborhoods, altering the character of long-established communities.

Status: HB 1782 stalled in the House Rules Committee. SB 5670 stalled in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.