Legislative Update - Jan 19

January 19, 2018

These are the bills we see coming forward next week in Olympia:

HB 2503 We oppose this bill - Concerning zoning regulations relating to accessory dwelling units 

This bill seeks to amend the Growth Management Act (GMA) by amending RCW 43.63A.215 - a process that is unconstitutional, as any amendment to a section of state laws must be set out in full.  However, until it's impacts are declared unconstitutional, it would create significant problems.

Currently, the GMA allows internal and attached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) both inside and outside urban growth areas (UGAs) without being counted towards the local governments density limits. External ADUs, separate houses, do count against the density limits outside UGAs. This has worked well, providing opportunities for affordable housing while protecting the environment and rural character. This bill will amend RCW 43.63A.215(3) to provide that “[t]he local government may allow the development and placement of accessory apartments within or outside urban growth areas.” Therefore, assuming it is constitutional, this bill would allow counties to permit all any kind of ADU, anywhere. This will create the following problems: 

  • The bill does not require local governments to adopt any density limits, adversely affecting water quality, the environment, and rural character.
  • The bill is unconstitutional because it amends the GMA without setting out the GMA provision being amended.
  • The bill is unneeded - as ADUs, subject to appropriate limits, are already allowed within and outside urban growth areas.  

HB 2599 We support this bill - Allowing local governments to collect reasonable fees (via permit fees) to cover costs for long-rang planning required by state environmental policy statutes. 

SB 6328 We oppose this bill - Defining best available science for the purposes of  designating fish and wildlife conservation areas. 

This bill provides a definition of best available science, and includes an order of prioritization – 1) science from within or proximate to the county or city within Washington, 2) science findings or data in a location equivalent or similar, 3) science findings and data found in nonsimilar locations.  It also allows for the parties to retain and examine the scientific evidence in addition to the GMHB - slowing down the process without significant benefit.

HB 2789 We oppose this bill - Requiring support by a majority of the people prior to annexation of a city, town or unincorporated area.

This bill would change the annexation petition requirements from 30% of residents to 30% of homeowners, and from totaling 10% of the acreage, to 30% in value according to the assessed valuation - an obvious equity issue.  The bill would also change the election date from 30-60 days after the public hearing to the next general election that is at least 90 days after the public hearing.