Our work in Olympia slows just a bit this coming week, as cutoff for policy-focused bills just occurred. While at this point in time we can’t quite guarantee the status on each of the bills we’ve been tracking, here are some key updates and predictions:
HB 1544 - Addressing the effective date of certain actions taken under the growth management act.
Futurewise position / Status: This is an important bill that we have been working on for the last several years, and it has made it to House Rules. The bill would clamp down on the potential for cities and counties from engaging in “speculative” expansions of the urban growth area. Read more about the bill in our January 25th blog post. The bill has been amended to apply only to counties with populations greater than 200,000 – which would capture King; Pierce; Snohomish; Snohomish; Spokane; Clark; Thurston; Kitsap; Yakima; Whatcom; and soon, Benton county.
SB 5193 - Concerning the process of identifying limited areas of more intensive rural development.
Futurewise position / Status: We opposed this bill, as it would lead to more flexibility for expansions of development in rural areas. It appears that the bill is dead. Read more about the bill in our January 21st blog post.
SB 5259 - Encouraging the success of agriculture on agricultural land.
Futurewise position / Status: We opposed this bill, as it would lead to more accessory uses on already threatened farm land. It appears that the bill is dead. Read more about the bill in our January 21st blog post.
Futurewise position / Status: We opposed HB 1797 on the grounds that it allowing ADUs in areas without transit could be too much of a good thing. Read more about the bill in our February 15th blog post. We were able to get the bill amended to only apply in cities with a population of 2,500 within a transit service district or with a population greater than 10,000. But along the way, the requirements in the house bill became optional. That could likely lead to it’s untimely death.
HB 1923 - Increasing urban residential building capacity.
Futurewise position / Status: We still harbor mixed emotions about this bill that aims to create more density in cities – ultimately a good thing. Read more about the bill in our February 8th blog post. The bill still has a long way to go, but some changes have been made along the way. The bill now:
- Adds options to the list of increased residential building capacity actions from which certain cities may choose – it’s always good to have options.
- Modifies the scope of the inclusionary zoning program that certain cities may choose to adopt – we know that even cities that are leading the way on inclusionary zoning are carefully balancing the impact on development potential, so lower affordability targets are probably in order.
- Eliminates the availability of $100,000 planning grants for cities that take comply with the increased residential building capacity and housing affordability requirements of the act – there are likely other ways to find funding, we are going to push for expanded permit fees for long-range planning.
- Changes the effective date of actions that may be relied on to comply with the requirements of the act, from January 1, 2015, to January 1, 2013 – this change could mean that some cities would not need to take action, but only if they recently have met some of the requirements already.
- Authorizes cities that are subject to the increased residential building capacity and housing affordability requirements of the act to instead choose to update the housing element of their comprehensive plan – this work belongs in housing elements.
- Eliminates the requirement that the Department of Commerce certify that a city has complied with the increased residential building capacity and housing affordability requirements of the act – if planning happens through housing elements, then Commerce will still have a chance to review and approve.
- Eliminates the requirement that cities that update the housing element of their comprehensive plans pursuant to the act must include a zone where emergency shelters are permitted without a discretionary review process.
We have a lot of work to do along with our partners on this bill, particularly on anti-displacement. Stay tuned for updates.