Skip to main content

How Washington’s local governments have moved to allow for denser housing

Published on April 12, 2024

Tallwood building under construction
Image Credit: Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Originally reported by Laurel Demkovich in the Washington State Standard.

Washington lawmakers in recent years have passed laws to require local governments to allow for more housing density with duplexes, triplexes or attached dwelling units.

But before lawmakers required these changes, they looked at ways to incentivize local governments to do this on their own. Two laws, one passed in 2019 and one passed in 2020, provided grants to local governments to create housing action plans intended to increase the number of units that could be built.

For many places in Washington, the incentives worked, according to a new study.

The University of Washington Center for Real Estate Research looked at how local governments that received the grant funding from the state in the last four years have made changes to accommodate denser housing. Those changes include increasing the number of units allowed on a lot, limiting parking requirements or offering perks for developers to build affordable housing.

According to the report, at least 66 of the 103 jurisdictions receiving grants through those two state laws adopted at least one measure to increase density. And with new state laws now requiring some of these actions, more will likely move in this direction.

“We’re going to see more density, more apartments, more multifamily units, more use of tools like the multi-family tax exemption program, more development near transit stations because of these changes,” said Steven Bourassa, director at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research. “But it’s not going to happen overnight.”

House Bill 1923, which passed in 2019, encouraged cities to increase housing density by taking at least two actions listed in the bill. These actions included allowing for more development near transit stations, removing parking requirements, and allowing more duplexes and triplexes.

Continue reading here.

Housing density incentives have been effective, said Steven Bourassa, director at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington.
Search by categories

Twitter Feed