Statewide zoning proposal aims for ‘high’ housing density near public transportation

Housing, growth management and a push toward zoning are among the challenges facing the state Legislature in 2022. How these issues intersect with perhaps the biggest infrastructure project underway in the Puget Sound area — which includes expanding light rail and mass transit — is the focus of a list of bills that were introduced during committee hearings on Tuesday.

One of them, House Bill 2020, specifically focuses on housing around light rail and transit hubs in cities planned under the Growth Management Act (GMA). It changes the residential zoning around these centers and establishes minimum density requirements in support of low- and middle-income housing.

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Highlights of the proposed new requirements for the 28 counties in Washington State that fall under the GMA include the following:

  • A light rail quarter mile or major transit hub should require a minimum base height of nine stories.
  • A half mile of light rail or a major transit hub should require a minimum base height of six stories.
  • A light rail mile or major transit hub should require an average minimum base height of five stories.
  • No density limit can be imposed within one mile of a light rail or major transit hub, but volume and height regulations are permitted.

A transit hub is defined as a stop on a high-capacity transit system that operates at regular intervals during peak hours, such as Sound Transit’s Link. It also includes rapid transit bus routes or routes that use high occupancy vehicle lanes.

“He’s setting up a board of directors to prioritize housing investments,” Rep. Amy Walen (Democrat, 48th District) and the bill’s lead sponsor, said during a committee hearing on Tuesday.

“It respects comprehensive city plans, but it imposes strict requirements for housing development along transit corridors, density bonuses for passive or environmentally neutral housing,” Walen noted. “And I think that’s a comprehensive approach to creating a much more affordable housing development pipeline, including city permitting requirements.”

Ultimately, if the bill passes, it would require municipalities across the state, including Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma and Lynnwood, to plan affordable housing development projects around their transit lines. in common.

Melvin Z. Madore