The Washington state House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would legalize duplexes or fourplexes in almost every neighborhood of every city in the state.
If it becomes law, it would essentially end local zoning rules that limit large areas of cities to single-family homes. The bill passed on a bipartisan 75-21 vote. It would require cities with populations between 25,000 and 75,000 to allow duplexes in all residential areas. Cities with more than 75,000 people and smaller suburbs of Seattle would be required to allow fourplexes.
The intent is to increase housing supply and density in cities across the state without increasing sprawl. The bill still must pass the state Senate. Its impact over many years could lead to the end of many neighborhoods made up exclusively of single-family homes.
Supporters argued that the measure would alleviate a severe housing shortage that is depriving young people of a chance to own a home. Opponents say that zoning and planning decisions are best handled locally, and that the bill would not do much to increase the supply of affordable housing.