House Bill 1110 and Its Impact on Housing
As some of you are probably aware, there was a bill passed in this most recent legislative session that could have a massive impact on housing in the state of Washington. HB 1110’s focus is to “increase middle housing in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family housing”. Middle housing is any dwelling that can be considered a duplex, triplex, quadplex, etc., or an “Accessory Dwelling Unit”.
Details of the Bill
This bill was passed with larger plots of land that were traditionally reserved for single-family homes in mind but will likely affect higher-density populations more than the traditional suburban neighborhoods. This is due to the bill allowing an increase in middle housing based on population and distance from a major transit stop. For a city with between 25,000 and 75,000 residents, authorization for at least two units per lot or four units per lot if the lot is within 0.25 miles of a major transit stop is required. For a city with over 75,000 residents, authorization for at least four units per lot or six units per lot if the lot is within 0.25 miles from a major transit stop is required. Places that are very walkable for instance, are likely going to be places where development happens the fastest. Thus, if there is room for growth in an area with already high density, this is a prime example of where more middle housing could be built. While some protractors of the bill say that this will cause more places to look like the high-density areas of the big cities, something to keep in mind is that there are many different types of density development so architectural diversity will still be achieved, both from city to city, but also neighborhood to neighborhood. Something else to note is that this middle housing bill is voluntary, and homeowners are not required to change or build if they so choose.
While some have said that this bill will allow individual property owners to disregard the current designs and aesthetics of their neighborhoods and thus will not be as uniform or consistent with the rest of the neighborhood, that is false. The physical dimensions of the building cannot be radically different to the rest of the community, making it so that the community will still feel connected, even as it grows.
How Will This Affect You?
At its core, HB 1110 will give property owners the opportunity to build additional housing on property with more ease than they would have previously and generate more income due to their increased unit count. The bill eliminates some of the “red tape” and permitting that was previously involved with developing new housing. Some cities and municipalities made it tremendously difficult to acquire the proper permitting required to build new units on a desired piece of property. This difficulty will likely be mitigated in the coming months and years. Building new dwellings obviously generates more income, but also increases property value significantly and the wait time for building these additional units will be drastically decreased.
What Should You Keep in Mind When Considering Building Middle Housing?
By owning property in an area that is being developed, your property will increase in value at a faster rate than it would in an otherwise less dense area. By limiting the local government’s oversight of developing property, property owners will be able to achieve these building projects in a much faster timeline. Overall, more local governments will be giving way to smart development. The key things to factor in when deciding whether or not to build middle housing are: How far away is your property from a major transit stop? How many units are you considering building? What type of permit is required from your local jurisdiction? What is the overall design and aesthetic of your neighborhood? Does your property have the infrastructure and the capacity to withstand additional units (i.e., water, electricity, plumbing, etc.)? All of these questions are going to be extremely valuable when deciding if developing your property is a good decision.
In sum, HB 1110 allows property owners more freedom to build “Middle Housing” and “Accessory Dwelling Units” on their property without the need to go through as tough of a permitting process and lays out clear guidelines for the types of areas where middle housing is acceptable. Not only will this help with the housing shortage that much of the state has been plagued with, but it will also allow property owners to generate more income from their properties in a quicker amount of time. If you would like more information on this topic or have any questions that are not answered in this article, please visit rhawa.org or send an email to email@example.com.