Major changes to housing law

The Legislature passed multiple housing bills, all designed to increase the range of allowable housing types within cities along with historic housing appropriations. Read together, all of these bills require cities to allow a broader variety of housing types in residential areas. They also require cities to transition from discretionary design review to a more predictable administrative process. The Legislature also passed historic legislation aimed at undoing years of racial discrimination in housing.

In his remarks at the signing of several landmark housing bills, Gov. Inslee said, “This is one of the most important and impactful pieces of housing legislation that the state has passed in recent years.”

Recognizing the impacts and the need, these changes couple with the largest increase in funding for housing programs in state history. With the newly signed budget, the next fiscal biennium provides $1 billion in funding to fight homelessness and support housing affordability. Here are the housing bills that passed:

  • HB 1110 – Requires cities to: allow at least six of nine middle housing types in predominantly single-family zones; allow only administrative design review of objective standards; require between two and six middle housing units on each lot depending on city and county population thresholds; provide process and criteria for extensions of implementation; and the bill directs Commerce to provide technical assistance including rulemaking and certification authority. It also amends RCW 43.21C to exempt certain actions from environmental review.
  • HB 1337 – Requires that counties and cities allow two accessory dwelling units (ADU) on every lot in predominantly single-family zones within urban growth areas. It also limits parking requirements based on distance from transit and lot size and removes barriers to separate sale and ownership of ADUs.
  • HB 1293 – Requires counties and cities to apply only clear and objective design review standards to the exterior of new development. It clarifies project review provisions and encourages expedited review of project permit applications that include dwelling units that are affordable to low and moderate income households.
  • HB 1042 – Amends RCW 36.70B to allow conversion of existing commercial buildings to residential uses and offer increases in density.