OLYMPIA (Washington) -- The state Senate approved a key housing bill which would allow duplexes to be legalized in almost all Washington neighborhoods.
The Seattle Times reported that House Bill 1110 was passed by 35-14 votes on Tuesday. About a half-dozen Republicans joined Democrats in passing it. The bill would repeal local zoning rules, which have for many years restricted large areas of cities to single-family homes.
Jay Inslee, along with other supporters, believes that increasing housing supply is crucial to alleviate a state-wide housing crisis that has seen home prices rise and homelessness increase.
Senator Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma) stated that 'we simply don't possess enough housing in the state. "This problem affects all cities in the state, and it's bigger than any county or city has been able so far.
Opponents argue that land use and planning decisions should be made locally. They also claim that the bill will be a gift for developers and not do enough to increase affordable housing.
Senator Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn) stated that he supports local communities being able decide what their community looks like, without Washington telling them to do so.
The House will vote on the Senate version of the bill, which, among other modifications, is more permissive in its requirements for smaller cities in Seattle's suburban areas.
"Hard to overstate how significant this is for Washington's proactive action on zoning Reform to create more housing options," wrote Dan Bertolet (director of housing and urbanism at the Sightline Institute).
While it wouldn't ban single-family homes from being built, it would prohibit cities from requiring single-family homes in their neighborhoods.
Senator John Braun (R-Centralia) praised the bill for protecting private property rights.
Braun stated that if the cities tell you you can only build one home on your half-acre lot then you are restricted from using your property in any way you like.
According to the state Department of Commerce, Washington will need to build 1 million additional homes in order to keep up with population growth.
These requirements do not apply to areas that are environmentally sensitive or watersheds in danger around drinking water reservoirs.
Similar legislation has failed in the past as cities have sought to retain their control over zoning regulations. However, supporters worked closely with the Association of Washington Cities last week to provide limited support.
As housing stock declines and population growth accelerates, states have been increasingly intervening. California and Oregon both ended single-family zoning in 2019, while California did so in large part in 2021.