Master Builder

Spring 2022

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O ver half of the residential area in the average Washington city only allows single-dwelling homes. Given our ongoing housing affordability crisis, solutions that facilitate more "missing middle" housing choices, such as multiplexes and townhomes, may be the key in unlocking affordability and equal access. MBAKS supports enabling more middle housing, in addition to single-detached homes, and has made it a top priority for our association's advocacy work. These homes are more affordable than typical single- family houses because land costs, which account for a significant portion of a home's value, can be shared across several households. In addition to alleviating our state's significant housing supply shortage, legalizing middle housing also provides important environmental benefits. These homes are more energy-efficient and less car-dependent, offering a Advocating for More Middle Housing Choices BY ALLISON BUTCHER SENIOR POLICY ANALYST MBAKS viable strategy for reducing carbon emissions. Legislative Push The recently concluded legislative session saw an effort to pass a statewide middle housing bill. Legislation sponsored by Representative Jessica Bateman would have required cities to allow middle housing near transit and in areas traditionally dedicated to single-detached housing or adopt increased minimum density standards. MBAKS members and the government affairs team elevated this priority bill with legislators during our virtual Hill Week meetings in February. Unfortunately, despite a strong show of support among housing and environmental advocates, opposition from cities and anti-growth factions prevented the bill from advancing. Local Advocacy While many cities have resisted changes to allow more middle housing types, others are stepping up to align local development regulations with meeting the urgent need for more housing. For example, in 2020, the city of Kirkland adopted code amendments making it easier to develop middle housing throughout the city. As a result of the changes supported by MBAKS, the city now allows cottage, carriage, and two-and three-unit homes, as well as accessory dwelling units, in single-family zones. MBAKS' government affairs team regularly works with jurisdictions supporting code changes like these and is currently advocating for potential changes in Snohomish County and the cities of Kenmore and Bothell. To help with our advocacy work, MBAKS developed a Housing Toolkit—with input from LDC, Inc. and other members—highlighting positive steps local governments can take to encourage a wider range of housing types, including missing middle. The MBAKS website also has issue briefs offering model code language and additional guidance for cities on missing middle housing and ADUs. Given our ongoing housing affordability crisis, solutions that facilitate more "missing middle" housing choices may be the key in unlocking affordability and equal access. Learn more by visiting 34 master BUILDER | SPRING 2022 HOUSING ADVOCACY

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