The Regulatory Report
October 2013 - By Don Davis, Government Affairs Director
We are busy preparing our legislative agenda for the convening of the 2014 Washington State Legislative Session, which will be held in January. We recently held an Association retreat for interested members that focused on remaining legislative issues from the previous year and identifying what could be accomplished from new initiatives. One of the top issues discussed was our need to help ensure an adequate supply of buildable land and available lots for new construction demand. Many avenues have been and will continue to be taken in an effort to affect this important member and industry issue.
Other issues discussed were the streamlining of subdivision processes, extending short plat applications and insisting local governments provide sound buildable land reports, all examples of issues being flushed out for legislative action. We will also be working with the Building Industry Association of Washington on an impactfee deferral bill again, and as always, a variety of defensive bills that seem to spring up when least expected.
As expected and as soon as Labor Day was in the rear-view mirror, the activities in our Government and Public Affairs departments picked up dramatically. Our results in Snohomish County were great, with successful lobbying efforts and support from our housing-friendly candidates on a local transfer-of development-rights (TDR) ordinance. Over the lifetime of the program, savings to Association members will easily add up to millions of dollars. It’s estimated 14,500 TDRs exist in the county, and at several thousand dollars each, the impact on affordable housing will be significant.
Throughout both King and Snohomish counties we have worked on a consistent theme of reducing costs for builders. And with our gentle urging, cities have been increasing categorical exemptions for environmental review compliance. As an example, Mukilteo has recently agreed to move categorical exemptions for minor new construction to the highest levels allowed under revised state rules (30 single-family and 60 multifamily units). Now select applicants won’t have to pay for the review fee or to have the environmental checklist completed.
Several jurisdictions have adopted or are considering “fee-simple” ordinances, which your Association is promoting. Snohomish County adopted it several months ago, as did the city of Bothell. Your Association is holding discussions with the cities of Everett and Issaquah, urging fee-simple ordinance adoption that will allow for attached and detached fee-simple lots in all multifamily residential zones throughout their cities.
Your Association and its Government Affairs Department continue to remain focused on bringing local issues to the forefront and doing whatever we can to facilitate easier, more efficient and affordable regulations so member businesses can be successful. To be a part of our efforts, please feel free to contact us in the Government Affairs Department at (425) 451-7920.
The Regulatory Report is a bi-monthly column by Government Affairs Director Don Davis about the current state of government affairs issues that are relevant to builders on both state and local fronts.