Planners' Newsletter Special Legislative Updates

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april 25, 2024

Washington Capitol

Legislature wraps 2024 session and Gov. Inslee signs his last bill

Gov. Jay Inslee signed his last bill on March 29, 2024. With that, we can officially close the book on the 2024 legislative session. Many thanks to our state legislators for all the hard work they put in on planning-related legislation this session and congratulations to our governor for reaching this pinnacle moment.

While 2024 was a short session, the Governor’s Office and the Legislature continued the momentum to improve the local planning environment and the Growth Management Act with a focus on housing, urban growth areas (UGA) and more. Let’s reflect with planners around our great state on some of the major Growth Management-related highlights from the 2024 legislative session:

Housing is still the priority

The Legislature passed a number of bills designed to increase the range of allowable housing types within cities. These bills followed the historic policy direction from last session with more infill support and technical fixes. In addition to the bills, the supplemental budget included more investments in affordable housing programs.

  • HB 1998: This bill requires cities and counties to allow co-living housing as a permitted use on any lot within an urban growth area that allows at least six multifamily residential units, including on a lot zoned for mixed use development. Co-living housing provides rental housing with private rooms that share common kitchen facilities. This housing type was historically common, but now is prohibited and/or has regulations making it difficult to develop. As a result, cities and counties may not impose requirements on co-living housing, such as room dimensional standards larger than that required by the state building code; providing a mix of unit sizes or number of bedrooms; and including other uses. A city or county may not have development regulations for co-living housing that are more restrictive than those required for other types of multifamily residential uses in the same zone.
  • HB 2321: This bill made a few technical changes to clarify the new middle housing requirements enacted in last session’s landmark middle housing bill.
  • SB 6015: This bill creates additional restrictions on what a city and county can require in their parking standards to facilitate the construction of infill housing.

Additional local or GMA-related changes

  • SB 6140: This bill makes some minor changes to the provisions for Limited Areas of More Intensive Rural Development (LAMIRD). For relatively remote LAMIRDs, the bill expands the size threshold for commercial infill so that these remote LAMIRDs can better serve the surrounding community.
  • SB 5834: This bill changes the provision for net-zero UGA adjustments to allow adjustments off the periodic update cycle if certain other criteria are met.
  • HB 2296: This bill extends the periodic update deadline for jurisdictions due in 2025 from June 30, 2025, to December 31, 2025.
  • HB 1105: Requires that any required public notice must specify the opening and closing date of the public comment period, including the last date and time that written comments may be submitted.
  • SB 6175: This bill gives cities the authority to adopt a tax incentive for the conversion of commercial property to multifamily affordable housing.

Summarizing the 2024 Supplemental State Operating Budget

The 2024 Supplemental State Operating Budget includes funding for permit streamlining, supportive housing, greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, and training for permit technicians and building inspectors. Each funding amount supports local governments directly or indirectly to advance their community interests.

Climate Commitment Act
  • Additional funding for GHG reduction efforts: The Legislature provided an additional $10 million to aid local government efforts in reducing GHG emissions. These funds are for the implementation of programs, services and/or capital facilities included in GHG emissions reduction sub-elements required by HB 1181 (2023). This funding is provided by Washington’s Climate Commitment Act. The CCA supports Washington’s climate action efforts by putting cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs and improving public health. Information about the CCA is available at
  • Local Project Review Grants: The Legislature made $3 million available starting July 1, 2024, to support the transition from paper to digital permit processing and for streamlining permit approval for housing projects.
  • Additional outreach on STEP housing: The Legislature provided Commerce $600,000 to provide additional outreach and technical assistance to support the development of Supportive, Transitional, Emergency and Permanent (STEP) housing. It also funds the provision of a third-party mediator to help resolve disputes between housing agencies and local governments over the siting or permitting of STEP housing.
  • Expanded training for new building inspectors and permit technicians: The Legislature provided additional funding to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and the Washington Association of Building Officials (WABO) to train new permit technicians and building inspectors.

Conversations we’re watching for next session

Over the last few sessions, the Legislature has commissioned several studies and deliberative processes to provide recommendations on how to achieve a number of policy priorities. The following local planning-related studies and developments from the 2023 and 2024 sessions are likely to influence policy and funding discussions in the next legislative session.

  • Integrating special purpose districts into the GMA: The Legislature commissioned a study to provide recommendations on how to integrate the planning work of special purpose districts in the GMA. This work will occur over the next year and a half with recommendations to the Legislature due December 2025.
  • Improving access to digital permitting: Last year, the Legislature commissioned a study to evaluate the creation of a statewide digital permitting system to facilitate the transition from paper to digital permitting and accelerate local project review. The Commerce advisory committee has been hard at work considering this feasibility study and will have a report with recommendations to the Legislature this summer.
  • The Wildland Urban Interface (WUI): After the passage of SB 6120, the State Building Code Council filed an emergency rule to remove all 2021 International Wildland-Urban Interface Code amendment language from WAC 51-55 until the new mapping and amendments are developed. Local jurisdictions are no longer required to adopt the Model Wildland-Urban Interface Code as anticipated. However, they may still do so under the advisement that the existing Washington State Department of Natural Resources WUI map is no longer applicable. DNR is working on new maps.
  • Streamlining Approval for Middle Housing: With the passage of HB 2071, the Legislature commissioned the State Building Code Council to examine the building code for ways to apply residential code standards to middle housing. Last year, HB 1042 directed the State Building Code Council to make adjustments to avoid application of new building and energy code standards to the nonresidential portion of existing buildings when they are converted to a residential use. The Office of Regulatory Innovation and Assistance will work with local governments and the building industry to engage a qualified consultant to develop a standard energy code plan set that exceeds energy code regulations. The optional plan set may be used by local governments, building officials, and building industries to lower costs and streamline housing production.
  • Creation of a state housing agency: The Office of Financial Management was tasked guiding the development of a pathway to evaluate the cost and feasibility of creating a new consolidated state housing agency that would likely combine a number of state programs that relate to the provision of housing. These recommendations are due to the Legislature by December 1, 2024.
  • Riparian habitat protection and restoration: The Legislature continued funding for a collaborative process with state and local governments, tribes, and stakeholders to make recommendations on strategies to better integrate efforts to protect and restore riparian habitat for salmon and steelhead, including voluntary and regulatory strategies. This facilitators for the process are required to provide recommendations to the Legislature in June 2024.
  • Agritourism permitting: The Legislature commissioned a study of how other states regulate and permit agritourism. The study includes how to bring advocates of interested groups together to resolve outstanding issues about permitting in agricultural areas for the sale of beer, wine and cider, and the use of agricultural buildings for tourism purposes. A Commerce-led report to the Legislature is due by June 30, 2025.