The State of Preemptive Zoning

Session 3D | Wednesday | 2:15 – 3:30 PM PT

Presentation PDF
About the Session

Washington's statewide housing supply crisis and the local control of housing production are increasingly at odds. The specter of preemptive zoning to break through the gridlock can be seen as a welcome intervention or government overreach. What is clear is that something needs to be done. According to the Office of the Governor, from 2000 to 2015 the housing supply in Washington failed to keep pace with growth by about 225,000 units, due in large part to restrictive zoning in most cities. The White House has also increasingly zeroed in on zoning codes as a major roadblock to affordable housing and opportunities of homeownership.

This session brings together policy experts on the topic of housing and zoning to explore the issues, discuss solutions, and hear from the planners working day-to-day in the affected communities. We'll explain the scope of Washington's housing crisis, share examples of recent zoning reform intended to boost private housing production from Wenatchee to Ridgefield, and debrief the zoning reform bills proposed in the 2022 legislative season. Several proposed bills would have required more transit-oriented development, required allowing "missing middle" housing development like duplexes and townhouses in all residential neighborhoods, and removed barriers to accessory dwelling units (including HB 1782, 2020, and 1660). We'll then preview what might be ahead for 2023 and how planners can influence the next round. Our presentations will also touch on other preemption laws that passed by quietly in Washington, such as regulations on supportive housing and the definition of "family", and how current discussions have evolved from the voluntary grant-funded measures of recent years (e.g. HB 1923).

Influence and lessons might also be taken from Oregon and California, which have made headlines with major state-level zoning reform and enforcement efforts.Our panelists will make brief presentations on their individual work and perspectives, and then open the floor to questions and comments from audience participants. We will invite viewpoints from local planners and officials across the state on what hopes or concerns they have for preemptive zoning - whether that be on funding for planning or infrastructure, political implications and community sentiments, or technical adjustments to bill language. With a state representative and coalition-builders on the panel, we expect audience feedback to effectively shape discussions ahead of the 2023 legislative season.Our session objectives are:- Share information on the scope of Washington's housing crisis and what is being done (and not done) to tackle the problem locally- Discuss the advantages and drawbacks of state-level zoning- Evaluate the challenges of preemptive zoning for small and mid-sized communities with limited resources- Provide a forum for local planners to give input on future statewide zoning legislation

About the Moderator

Scott Bonjukian, AICP
MAKERS Architecture & Urban Design

Scott is a planner/urban designer at MAKERS architecture and urban design in Seattle with nearly 10 years of experience. His expertise is in zoning reform and design standards for small and mid-sized communities. He frequently consults on regulations for land use, building heights and densities, parking, open space, and urban form in the context of larger housing supply and design objectives. His other ongoing work in Washington includes comprehensive planning, housing action plans, site planning, and design review. Scott is a longtime renter and aspiring homeowner with degrees from WSU and UW, bringing a variety of lived experiences from across the state to his practice.

About the Speakers

Rep. Jessica Bateman
22nd Legislative District

Rep. Jessica Bateman lives by the commitment that no one should be left out or left behind.
A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, she grew up in a single-parent, working-class household. Watching her mom work hard to provide for her family deeply shaped Jessica’s worldview and later motivated her advocacy for those most vulnerable in our communities.
Since then, Jessica has dedicated her career to serving the 22nd Legislative District, where she envisions an inclusive, equitable future for all who call this region home. As an organizer and coalition leader, Jessica has worked to create affordable housing, assist struggling families, and empower at-risk youth. Jessica also worked to pass a Sanctuary City Resolution in Olympia and is a passionate advocate for accessible health care.
Jessica is a first-generation college student who earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from The Evergreen State College and her bachelor’s degree in environmental science. She currently works as a health care policy analyst and served on the Olympia City Council and as staff in the House of Representatives.

Hugo Garcia
King County Local Services

Hugo joined the Burien City Council this year. He is an economic development program manager at King County Local Services and previously served on Burien’s Planning and Business commissions. Hugo was born in Mexico and moved to Washington as a child in 1988. He and his brother and sister-in-law have made a duplex in North Burien their home for the last 15 years. Being in a family of five that was supported on his parents’ food-industry incomes shaped Hugo’s understanding of how difficult it is for working families to save to buy a home or send children to college.

Kate Macfarlane
Sightline Institute

Kate is a housing and urbanism researcher at the Sightline Institute, where she focuses on policy solutions to create abundant and affordable housing. Kate’s professional interests include missing middle housing, zoning reform, and market feasibility analysis. Before Sightline, she worked at (where she analyzed the potential impacts of legalizing duplexes in California), ECONorthwest, and U.S. Department of Transportation. Kate grew up in Seattle and holds a degree in environmental policy from Middlebury College. When she’s not steeped in zoning data, Kate enjoys exploring the city and mountains with her dog.

Back to Schedule