May 20, 2019

HB 1923 Passed; Encouragement for Increased Housing Density


Earlier this month, Washington Governor Inslee signed into law HB 1923, an act amending the Growth Management Act (GMA) to provide incentives for local governments to increase housing density.  Representative Joe Fitzgibbon sponsored the bill and the Building Industry Association of Washington strongly supported the bill. 


Primarily, the law “encourages” planning jurisdictions to increase the residential building capacity within their boundaries by taking certain actions, including authorizing development in areas with existing transportation facilities, authorizing duplexes, triplexes, or even accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in zoning districts that permit single-family residences, or adopting categorical exemptions for certain types of residential or mixed-use development.  One particular proposed action within the law encourages jurisdictions to authorize a minimum net density of six dwelling units per acre in all residential zones, which would significantly increase the capacity for high-density developments. 


In the effort of encouragement, the law expressly exempts any of the enumerated actions to increase density from administrative or judicial appeal under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), so long as the actions are effectuated by April 1, 2021.  See HB 1923 as passed for a full list of exempt actions.  Further, if a city with a population greater than 20,000 plans to take at least two of the enumerated actions, and the actions would be made effective before April 1, 2021, the city may apply for planning grant assistance up to $100,000. 


The law also includes new definitions for “affordable housing,” “permanent supportive housing,” and degrees of “low-income housing.”  The definitions are directly applicable to another new section of the GMA adopted under this law, which applies new minimum residential parking requirements for the varying degrees of “low-income” housing units. 


Separate from density concerns, the law also adopted a new surcharge of $2.50 to be charged by county auditors for each document recorded, which is additional to all other applicable charges or surcharges under law.  This provision goes into effect immediately.


The rest of the HB 1923 provisions go into effect July 28, 2019.


For any and all questions related to this bill and land use in Washington, please contact Jamie Howsley or Armand Resto-Spotts.


Jamie Howsley is a land use and real estate attorney at Jordan Ramis PC. Contact him at or (360) 567-3900.


Armand Resto-Spotts is an attorney at Jordan Ramis PC who focuses his practice on land use, real estate, and environmental law. Contact him at or (360) 567-3900.


Thank you for your interest in this blog. The information contained in this blog is for the general interest of our readers and should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have questions, or to obtain more information on this topic, please contact an attorney in our land use and zoning practice group.


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