Cities and counties can take some simple steps to help ease regulatory burdens and other obstacles that hamper the creation of housing for the Puget Sound region’s growing population, suggested the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). The builder group recently issued an updated “Housing Toolkit” to help local jurisdictions provide more diverse and more affordable housing.
By 2050, the region comprising King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties will add 1.5 million more people. Given this anticipated growth, MBAKS believes “there must be a clear plan for building new housing that works for current residents while ensuring that the region is affordable for newcomers and future generations.”
Housing choices should include single family homes along with condominiums, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and townhomes.
The 32-page toolkit includes 10 sections, with each of them coded as applicable to single-family neighborhoods, missing middle housing types, and/or multifamily neighborhoods:
- SEPA-related and planning tools;
- Affordable housing;
- Housing types and innovations;
- Optimizing residential densities;
- Housing capacity near transit and jobs;
- Win-wins for housing and the environment;
- Enhanced predictability;
- Permit efficiencies and process improvements;
- Flexibility in site planning and design;
MBAKS points out its tools can be adopted locally and do not require state legislative action. The toolkit includes examples of model codes local jurisdictions already utilizing the kit. A total of 41 specific code updates and process improvements to enable more housing choices are highlighted.
First released in 2020, the update features four new tools and dozens of resources linked to existing tools. The new tools include contingency-based parking, allowing separate ownership of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), allowing cottage housing, and a streamlined utility available certificate process.
Also included in the toolkit is an “effectiveness rating chart” for various housing types. The document acknowledges assistance and insights from LDC, Inc. (engineering consultants) and notes several items included as options for increasing housing capacity and affordability are in HB 1923, a bill to increase residential building. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and others, the measure approved with an effective date of 7/28/2019.