LOCAL NEWS

‘I need a bill that can pass’: Proposal to rework state’s single-family zoning sheds core pieces

Feb 14, 2022, 9:25 AM
Middle housing, single family zoning...
Townhomes in Seattle. (Atomic Taco, Wikimedia Commons)
(Atomic Taco, Wikimedia Commons)

State lawmakers pushing for a bill that would allow for denser housing options across Washington’s large cities may soon be forced into a difficult decision, as the legislation continues to get scaled back in its journey toward passage.

Bill to rework Washington’s single-family zoning advances ahead of deadline

The initial draft of HB 1782 sought to allow for the construction of townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, fiveplexes, sixplexes, stacked flats, and courtyard apartments in what have traditionally been single-family zoned areas in cities with populations over 20,000 — provided the areas are within a half-mile walking distance of a major transit stop. For all other single-family zoned neighborhoods outside that range, it also would have allowed for duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes.

But as the bill has progressed through the state House, parts of the proposal have been chipped away by amendments, as Democrats have struggled to keep its core pieces intact. That culminated in the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jessica Bateman, proposing a “significant reduction of the bill’s scope” over the weekend, in hopes of getting enough votes to advance it out of the House.

Bateman’s “striker amendment” would alter several key aspects of the original bill, including: raising the minimum population for affected cities to 30,000; capping the increased housing options near transit stops at quadplexes; eliminating the inclusion of duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes in areas outside of transit zones; reducing affected areas to those within a quarter-mile of major transit stops,” and measuring that distance “as the crow flies” rather than by walking distance.

Economist: Gov. Inslee’s proposal to rework single-family zoning ‘a good start’

Bateman expressed that the changes are both “disappointing and frustrating,” but she believes getting the bill passed in any form is a better outcome than having it fail entirely.

“I need a bill that can pass,” she said on Twitter. “… I’ve put everything into moving this bill and I feel your frustration. And, I do believe that the striker would be an improvement to the status quo.”

Bateman also noted that she still hopes improvements can be made once the bill is passed over to the state Senate. Currently, HB 1782 is under consideration in the House Rules Committee, and could be advanced out of the House by Tuesday.

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‘I need a bill that can pass’: Proposal to rework state’s single-family zoning sheds core pieces