2023 AWB Legislative Review | Page 34

2023 legislative review

Land Use , Construction and Housing

Michael Ennis : Transportation , Land Use , Telecom and Rural Vitality
The 2023 legislative session was the “ year of housing .” There were about the same number of land use bills proposed this session as there were for the entire previous biennium , and most of them were housing related . Lawmakers passed nine bipartisan bills to increase the supply of homes and ease the state ’ s housing affordability crisis .
Housing was a priority for AWB and many groups this session as the state ’ s housing crisis continues to worsen . The Department of Commerce now estimates Washington will need to add least 1 million homes in the next 20 years to keep up with population growth . Housing shortages strain Washingtonians on all rungs of the income ladder and the shortage is closely tied to the workforce shortages many employers face .
“ Nine bills is a lot . We would celebrate if we had passed one supply-side bill . So getting nine is pretty significant .”
~ Mike Ennis on the Legislature ’ s bipartisan housing package .
The final bipartisan housing package includes nine bills focused on boosting supply . The “ middle housing ” bill received the most attention during session and it will allow more duplexes , triplexes , fourplexes and townhomes in some single-family neighborhoods . Lawmakers also took steps to streamline permitting for builders , helping reduce construction costs and delays . Another bill will reduce liability risks for condo builders and support townhomes as affordable options for first-time homebuyers .
Lawmakers missed a few opportunities to further expand housing supply by not pushing bills across the finish line on lot splitting , transit-oriented development , and a multifamily property tax exemption . AWB will continue working on these bills next year .
Despite these successes , the business community faced several bills that would have made housing more expensive . AWB led a coalition of business groups to oppose an increase to the state ’ s real estate excise tax ( REET ), which would have given Washington state the highest REET in the country and led to higher housing costs . Fortunately , the bill failed but proponents have already indicated they will propose the idea again next session . Another bill sought to limit landlords from increasing rents in some cases . Studies from around the country show rent control actually decreases affordability and stifles supply – worsening the crisis . AWB and other groups succeeded in opposing this bill , as well .
The Legislature deserves credit for focusing on housing supply . The new policies , combined with $ 1 billion for housing in the capital and operating budgets , are meaningful steps in addressing our housing affordability crisis .
HB 1110 middle housing
Passed / AWB Supported sponsor : Rep . Jessica Bateman , R-Olympia
The “ middle housing ” bill was proposed again this year after failing to pass in 2022 . The bill aims to spur middle housing in areas traditionally dedicated to singlefamily homes . The final legislation requires cities with populations between 25,000 and 75,000 to allow at least duplexes on all lots and fourplexes within a quarter mile of transit stops . Cities with populations over 75,000 must allow at least fourplexes on all lots and sixplexes within a quarter mile of transit . The bill passed the House 79-18 and the Senate 35-14 .
SB 5290 permit timelines
Passed / AWB Supported sponsor : Sen . Mark Mullet , D-Issaquah
Legislators proposed several bills to accelerate the permitting process for builders and speed up housing construction . Those efforts were combined into a single bill , SB 5290 . The bill establishes permit review time periods for projects and takes steps to support local governments ’ permitting work . The bill creates a permit review grant program and funds grants to aid governments transitioning from paper to electronic permit filing . The House and Senate voted unanimously for the measure .
HB 1337 accessory dwelling units
Passed / AWB Supported sponsor : Rep . Mia Gregerson , D-SeaTac
This bill aims to lower barriers to the construction of accessory dwelling units ( ADUs ), also known backyard cottages or
34 association of washington business