Two multifamily housing bills dead, but measure supporting accessory dwelling units passes State House

Accessory dwelling unit examples, courtesy City of Seattle.

The cities of Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace will not have to make changes in single-family zoning after the failure of two controversial housing bills in Olympia. House Bill 1782 and Senate bill 5670 both failed to get out of committee by the Washington State Legislature’s deadline of Feb. 15.

But another bill, HB 1660, is alive and headed to the State Senate. It advocates for more accessory dwelling units statewide – independent living space that homeowners can add to their house.

Both HB 1782 and SB 5670 would have allowed the statewide development of up to six-unit housing buildings within a half-mile walk of major transit stops in cities with a population of 20,000 or more. The bills would also have required the cities to update their comprehensive plans to accommodate the multi-family units.

We have requested comments from local legislators who sponsored the housing bills — 21st District State Sen. Marko Liias and Rep. Strom Peterson — but have not yet received a reply. However, HB 1782’s prime sponsor, Rep. Jessica Bateman of Olympia, said the bill will be back next year.

In a tweet, Bateman stated: “Exponential increases in home & rent prices have led to Washingtonian’s struggling, spending 1/3 to 1/2 their income on housing costs. Home ownership is only affordable in 7 WA counties, & they are all in Eastern WA. We don’t have time to waste. The housing crisis is being felt in every corner of our state…”

This is the fourth year that sponsors have introduced both the House and Senate bills.

32nd District Rep. Cindy Ryu

Another local sponsor of HB 1782, State Rep. Cindy Ryu of the 32nd District, is co-sponsoring HB 1660, related to accessory dwelling units (ADUs). This bill squeaked out of the Democratic-controlled House on a razor-thin 50-48 partisan vote. If it passes the Senate, all cities with over 20,000 residents and counties of more than 125,000 people would have to incorporate accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in their development and zoning laws. Homeowners in single-family homes, duplexes or townhomes could add the ADUs, which provide independent living spaces attached to or incorporated into their homes. Some cities permit detached or separate small units on the same lot as the main house.

Calling it “the best ADU bill in the nation to start making progress,” Ryu said that Washington’s legislation “matches California’s ADU bill, which was held up as a model, and after extensive conversations, we improved.” According to Ryu, HB 1660 “is equivalent to what HB 1782 proposed for all the buildable lots beyond a half-mile from transit in requiring allowance (not a mandate) of an ADU, including detached ADU, which looks and works the same as a ‘duplex’ unit, a mother-in-law apartment or cottage apartment on that lot.”

— By Bob Throndsen








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