Developers, builders and city officials are watching this one closely, Senate Bill (SB) 6536.

Introduced by Senator Mona Das (D-Kent), this bill would require all cities with a population of 15,000 or higher to allow multi-family units to be built in areas previously zoned only for single-family dwellings--which is the VAST majority of what's being built here in the Mid-Columbia.

Das, the same person behind the plastic shopping bag statewide ban idea, wants to create "more housing options in single family zones" according to her bill.  The bill would require allowing "duplex, triplex, sixplex, stacked flats, townhouses and courtyard apartments" in areas previously only zoned for single-family units.

If you have any knowledge or experience with housing, zoning or real estate, the townhouses and apartments are eyebrow raising. In politics, that's codespeak for 'low income' or subsidized housing--or at least the potential for it.

She doesn't realize the reason why so many areas are zoned for single family homes is because that's what people want. They don't want duplexes, townhouses, or even apartments in the middle of their neighborhood. Crime statistics show rates are higher in areas where multi-family units are mixed in with single family homes.

Consider the number of police calls to North Arthur Street and Metaline, or the area of North Tweedt Street and John Day Place in Kennewick. They're higher than 'average' neighborhoods, especially North Arthur near Metaline. Both have extensive apartments-duplexes right next to single family homes.

It will also create a headache for real estate agents. When you mix multi-family, multi-function buildings into the same neighborhood, property values drop, it's harder to get comparables for sales purposes and other issues.

Even if an area has already been zoned, and perhaps some development underway, rezoning would be required. If the bill passes, this would go into effect July 2020.

We can expect a lot of pushback from developers, city officials and others in the real estate industry.

To see the actual bill, click on the button below.

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