Cities across Washington will continue to be able to zone land exclusively for single-family homes after the failure of a bill in the state Legislature that would have required them to allow greater density.
HB 1782, known as “missing middle” housing legislation, would have required cities with more than 20,000 people to allow duplexes or fourplexes on certain single-family lots, depending on how close those lots were to frequent bus or train lines. For smaller cities, with at least 10,000 people, the bill would have allowed duplexes on certain lots that do not already have accessory dwelling units.
The proposal met resistance from local governments, who argued they should be able to set local zoning rules without state mandates. Some said they had already worked to upzone certain parts of their cities.
Supporters of the bill argued local control had failed to respond to the state’s housing crisis, in which few homes are for sale and prices are climbing. Among others, Habitat for Humanity backed the bill as a path to creating more affordable condo cottages and other housing types.
Seattle Democrat Rep. Gerry Pollet led efforts to scale back an earlier version of the proposal. Rep. Jessica Bateman, D-Olympia, who sponsored the bill, indicated Saturday that she would support further cuts to the bill in hopes it could pass, but lawmakers did not advance the bill before a key 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday.
“We don’t have time to waste. The housing crisis is being felt in every corner of our state, impacting families on all ends of the income spectrum. Land use is inextricably linked to our ability to mitigate climate change,” Bateman wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening. “Unfortunately, philosophic beliefs about ‘local control’ are crippling our ability to take this necessary step.”
The group of supporters who backed the bill this year “is the foundation for an even stronger policy proposal next year,” Bateman wrote.