Published on Mar 18, 2019

ADU bills continue to improve for cities

Contact: Carl Schroeder, Shannon McClelland

The key accessory dwelling unit (ADU) bill, companions SB 5812/HB 1797, have gone through a significant set of negotiations and changes. Only SB 5812 survived the cutoff on March 13.

Here is what the bill contains after passing the Senate:

  • Applies to cities with a population of 10,000 or more, or 2,500 or more with transit service;
  • Exempts any city that has an ADU ordinance that is in effect prior to the bill becoming law;
  • Requires adoption of ordinances and development regulations allowing ADUs;
  • Authorizes an attached or a detached ADU on parcels that have single-family homes on them, subject to local regulations, conditions, procedures, and limitations as determined by the city except for the following:
    • Parking: Cannot have off-street parking requirements within one half mile of a light rail station or a bus stop that runs at least every fifteen minutes for ten hours a day; and, outside of that area, can only require one off-street parking space per ADU;
    • Impact fees: Transportation impact fees on ADUs within that proximity to high-frequency transit service may only be 50% of a single-family home (due to a drafting error this is not covered by the grandfathering provision, but we have the support of the sponsor to include). Cities must also review impact fees to ensure they reflect the actual cost of the ADU and are less than for single-family houses;
    • Lot size: Cannot adopt a minimum lot size;
    • Hookup fees: Water and sewer hookup fees must be proportionate to the burden of the new unit;
    • Floor area: Cannot count the floor area ratio of an ADU against any floor area ratio requirements on the single-family home; and
    • Residents: Cannot include residents of ADU on limits of unrelated residents on a single-family lot.
  • Encourages cities to minimize the cost of construction of ADUs with a number of recommendations; and
  • Does not preempt cities from enacting any regulations related to short-term rentals.

We will continue to work to minimize the negative elements of the bill in the House, but we did support the bill coming of the Senate in order to secure the grandfathering provision for any city who has an ordinance in place before the bill goes into effect. We believe this is a much better version of the bill than we were likely to see without our willingness to engage in this manner. We do not take supporting any degree of preemption lightly; however, securing a commitment to honor the work of cities who had developed local ADU policies was a strong shift in the bill. By doing so, we have structured the bill to meet a core goal to respect and leave untouched work that cities have already done. The proposed framework for cities that do not have their own policies is significantly less disruptive now than it was as introduced, and includes language authorizing local regulations on ADUs.

To read the details on where these bills started, please see our previous articles on the original version of these bills and the substitutes that passed out of committee.

  • Affordable housing
  • Land use & planning
  • Advocacy
Copyright © 2018-2020 Association of Washington Cities