04 Feb Legislative Update from Futurewise: It’s Heating Up!
From Bryce Yadon
State Policy Director
We’re a month into the legislative session and it’s heating up, with a host of bills related to minimum density, accessory dwelling units and urban growth expansions being considered. Let’s dive in with a few key bills:
SB 5440 – Concerning the housing element of comprehensive plans required under the Growth Management Act.
Bill Summary: Provides for a definition of extremely-low, very-low and low-income affordability, and requires local jurisdictions to plan for and identify areas in which these units can be built. In addition, it requires local jurisdictions to review their housing stock and look for ways in which to preserve and expand the housing stock – all of which will be reviewed and approved by the Department of Commerce.
Futurewise Position: We support this bill, and provided a majority of the language. This bill would give teeth to the affordability requirements of jurisdiction’s housing elements.
SB 5353 – Promoting redevelopment of certain areas to encourage transit supportive densities and efficient land use.
Bill Summary: Extends the multi-family tax exemption (MFTE) to include the areas that will be served by Pierce Transit bus rapdit transit (within a quarter mile) in unincorporated areas within a city’s urban growth area (UGA) expansion and annexation zone.
Futurewise Position: We support this bill. New multi-family housing should be encouraged in areas that are served by rapid transit, and will soon be annexed to an adjacent city.
SB 5424 – Establishing minimum density standards around regional transit.
Bill Summary: Requires jurisdictions to rezone to 150 unites per acre within a half mile of light rail.
Futurewise Position: We are signing in “other” on this bill. We support encouraging density around light rail, but this bill does not address critically important peripheral impacts such as well-defined affordable housing requirements and effective anti-displacement strategies, and also does not address distorted impacts on the cost of land and considerations for how new or improved infrastructure will be funded. We anticipate that there will soon be alternatives to this bill that address some of these issues.
SB 5384 – Concerning the location of tiny house communities.
Bill Summary: Provides that tiny house communities can be sited outside of the urban growth area (UGA) and limited areas of more intense rural development (LAMIRDs) if affordability is not being achieved in urban areas.
Futurewise Position: We oppose this bill. Allowing for housing outside of the UGA does not necessarily create affordable housing. Affordable housing should be close to opportunity, transit, and other needed infrastructure including urban services such as water and sewer.
HB 1213 – Granting local governments the authority to make challenges related to growth management planning subject to direct review in superior court.
Bill Summary: Allows local government to make challenges directly to superior court.
Futurewise Position: We oppose this bill. The Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) provides a low-cost accessible option for non-lawyers to participate in the appeal process. The land-use process is exclusive and privileged enough now – our goal is to make the process more accessible for marginalized and low-income populations, not vice versa.
For a full run-down of this week’s bills, check out our blog post. Next week we will have more information on affordable and missing-middle housing bills that are expected to drop in the next few days.