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Time to Weigh in on Permit Timelines

February 3, 2020

UPDATE (Feb. 3): A BIAW legislative priority requiring local governments to adhere to the 120-day permit approval timeline will be heard for the first time on Feb. 5th in the House Committee on Local Government at 8:00 a.m. Rep. Chris Gildon (R-Puyallup) sponsored this legislation that would clarify permit timelines, including permit completeness. HB 2886 still allows for local timeline flexibility for permits that may need more than the base 120 days. This legislation would also ban local governments from asking for a timeline waiver upfront or after a repeated resubmittal. This bill would require automatically approval of permits that go beyond timelines in statute.

One key way to increase the supply of housing is to ensure projects move through the permit process in the time required by law and that rarely happens. It is time to help projects move forward in a regular and predictable manner. We encourage the legislature to increase accountability in the permitting process so we can get more houses into the market.

UPDATE (Jan. 27) A host of BIAW-supported land-use reform bills was heard this morning in the House Environment & Energy Committee. We want to thank Rep. Andrew Barkis (R-Olympia) for his work sponsoring these bills (HB 2672, 2673 & 2687), which are critical to increasing the housing stock, make housing more affordable, and attainable.

Also, a special thank you to Chuck Sundsmo from Master Builders Association of Pierce County and Building Industry Association of Whatcom County’s Government Affairs Director Jacquelyn Styrna who made the drive out to Olympia to testify!

Original Blog:

A host of BIAW-supported land-use reform bills will be heard in the House Environment & Energy Committee on Jan. 30 at 8 a.m. These bills are critical to increase the housing stock, make housing more affordable, and attainable. Please make an effort to come and support these pieces of legislation in person.

Thank you to Rep. Andrew Barkis (R-Olympia) for his unwavering support on these land-use bills.

HB 2672: Flexibility for LAMIRDs

Limited Areas of More Intense Rural Development (LAMIRD) are allowed under the Growth Management Act (GMA), however, there are significant limitations that have created a one-size-fits-all approach to planning. Life is different in Snohomish County than it is in Stevens County. LAMIRDs could be really valuable tools to help rural communities have economic growth, but they are instead “economic sinkholes.”

Even the Ruckelshaus Center’s Roadmap Project noted that the LAMIRDs were overly restrictive to be useful. In order to address these “economic sinkholes”, Washington needs to provide some flexibility around manding LAMIRDs into the future. HB 2672 provides flexibility about how boundaries are set, provide more discretion to local government in making decisions around LAMIRDs, and clarify that new uses are allowed.

HB 2673: Reduce Redundancy for Housing

Washington must streamline and integrate the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and GMA. HB 2673 streamlines SEPA and comp planning: A project that complies with the underlying comp plan would be categorically exempt—this is how it should work. Doing this eliminates costly SEPA paperwork, studies, and appeals, and would quicken the housing production pace.

HB 2687: Metrics for Attainable Housing Standards

It’s time to bring additional emphasis and clarity to the housing element requirements of GMA. Currently, local governments are required to plan for housing. Most jurisdictions are not adequately planning for every housing type identified in GMA. HB 2687 adds real housing metrics to GMA by updating the requirements for countywide planning policies. Not every city can provide every housing type in sufficient proportions to meet the needs of the community; however, unless there are policies, there is no way to know if a jurisdiction is meeting their overall goals. This bill clarifies what is required; strengthens the housing element requirements to ensure cities and counties plan for each housing type appropriately. In short, this would emphasize the need to not only plan for population, but also for specific housing types.

Let Jan Himebaugh (360) 352-7800 ext 135 or Ashlee DeLaney (360) 352-7800 ext. 114 know if you’d like to join and support common sense reforms to Washington’s planning and land-use laws.

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