Op-ed: Remove the barriers to building more affordable housing in WA
While Washington’s population has grown by 60% over the last three decades, the number of housing units has only increased by 33%. The market has gotten so tight that the median housing price has nearly tripled in the past decade.
Writing in The Seattle Times, Building Industry Association of Washington Executive Vice President Greg Lane called for removing the barriers to building more affordable housing in the state.
“Builders in Washington, including those building low-income and subsidized housing, have, since the state introduced the Growth Management Act in the 1990s, been forced to navigate a labyrinth of regulations, artificially driving up costs and creating processes specifically designed to limit housing construction, not ‘manage’ it,” Lane wrote. “The consequences of these shortsighted public policies? A severe shortage of housing with no end in sight.”
Restrictive and inflexible zoning accounts for an average of $71,000 of the cost of a newly constructed home statewide — and it’s much higher in central Puget Sound, he notes.
Lt. Gov. Denny Heck spoke about the housing situation at AWB’s Workforce Summit this year. This month he covered some of the same points in an interview with The Urbanist.
He called for permitting reform, noting a recent study that finds the greater Seattle area is the fourth-most regulated when it comes to permitting.
“We need zoning reform, we need permitting reform, we need to make sure we have available land on which to build, we need to be paying attention to the available supply of labor,” Heck said.
Contact Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis to learn more and get involved.