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Washington State Legalizes Fourplexes and Duplexes in Most Neighborhoods

Washington has become the latest state to pass new legislation aimed at increasing the housing supply through zoning regulations. Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law last week that allows the development of fourplexes and duplexes in most neighborhoods across the state. Known as House Bill 1110, the new law overrides local zoning rules that bar any kind of development other than single-family homes. The new legislation does not ban the development of single-family homes, but is aimed instead at adding more kinds of housing to neighborhoods in light of the shortage. A big impetus for passing the measure was the state’s growing population numbers. Between 2021 and 2022, Washington was one of the states with the most new residents. Washington’s Department of Commerce has estimated that in order to keep up with population growth in the state, it will need to build 1 million homes over the next 20 years. 

The new law comes on the heels of several states and cities passing legislation aimed at allowing more kinds of housing development. Minneapolis was the first major city in the country to end single-family zoning when it passed a long-term housing plan in 2018. Since then, Oregon lawmakers voted to eliminate single-family zoning in 2019, and California state legislators passed similar legislation in 2021. In March of this year, lawmakers in Arlington County, Virginia approved a housing plan making it easier to build multi-unit housing in the region, including townhomes and duplexes, on lots that had previously only allowed single-family homes to be built. Laws like these are aimed at easing the affordable housing crisis that has worsened over the last few years, and if this latest news from Washington state is any indication, further proof that NIMBYism’s popularity is beginning to fade.

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