East King Chambers take stance on middle housing shortage

As the end of session nears, the East King Chambers Coalition wanted to reassert its commitment to providing a pathway for middle housing — check out the op-ed below!

The housing supply shortage we face in Washington is a problem that we must work collectively to solve. The one million housing units needed in Washington by 2044 is a daunting task for the business community, non-profit organizations, and government at every level, especially considering the current real estate market and economy. While a crisis faced by other states, Washington ranks 49th for number of housing units per household.

The bottom line is painfully clear: We have a dire need for housing, and multiple solutions will be needed to get there.

Middle housing could potentially be one of these solutions. The State Legislature is currently debating House Bill 1110, a bill sponsored by Representative Bateman, to promote this type of development. This could arguably be one of the more impactful bills on housing in Olympia this year, and there has been plenty of digital ink spent discussing it. There are, however, some perceived misconceptions on this legislation.

First, some have questioned the bill’s potential impact on Single Family Homes and whether it halts its development altogether. It’s important to note that this bill does not aim to decrease single family construction, but instead focuses on increasing options. In particular, it would change the zoning in cities over 25,000 in population and allow for multifamily in single family zones. The key word in this is allowed, rather than required.

For example, just because an ADU is allowed, does not mean a homeowner will necessarily build an ADU. Similarly in comparison, schools, churches, and daycares are allowed under conditional use in Single Family zones, however, many homeowners do not plan to convert their dwellings into such uses.

There is also the bilateral discussion on State Control versus Local Control, rather than emphasizing homeowner control. Homeowners should have the option to choose what suits their housing needs the best, and developers will build what the market is looking for.

Just because zoning will allow for a 1500 sq. ft. home with a 10-car garage does not mean that will be what is built. Developers will build what people will buy, and the market will help decide what will be built.

With this being said, the worst solution to housing will be no solution at all.

Our state is behind on our housing construction, and we need to build as many as we can … and quickly. Our citizens cannot afford for this bill to be delayed until its perfected, if that is even achievable, before it gets implemented. A delay in passage would mean another year closer to 2044 without a viable housing solution.

Reaching such a lofty housing goal takes considerable time, and unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of it.

Learn more about the East King Chambers Coalition at: bellevuechamber.org/ekcc