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A History of State-Mandated Upzonings in the Pacific Northwest

Past examples of state and provincial governments preempting the land use authority of local governments present several lessons on how to do state-mandated upzoning effectively.
November 5, 2018, 9am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Michael Andersen writes of the possibility of state preemption of local zoning laws in the Pacific Northwest—i.e., state-mandated upzoning to spur housing development in high-priced cities.

With California attempting and failing to approve SB 827, perhaps the most widely discussed and debated example of state preemption in the last year, other state governments are also at various stages of consideration with the idea of passing some kind of statewide upzoning.

To ponder the potential of state-mandated upzoning in the Pacific Northwest, Andersen looks for lessons in previous examples of state preemption in the regions of greater Vancouver, the state of Washington, and the state of Oregon. Andersen finds a long history of state (or province, in British Columbia's case) preemption from the history of these states and cities. Andresen draws seven key lessons from laws like British Columbia's 1973 Agricultural Land Reserve, which set growth boundaries around Vancouver; the Washington Housing Policy Act, which legalized accessory dwelling units all over the state; Washington's House Bill 1490, which failed in 2009 but would have upzoned transit oriented neighborhoods; and Oregon's urban growth boundary law, SB 100.

After running through a detailed series of observations on these examples, Andersen also catches up on the current status of state preemption in the Pacific Northwest,

A relatively modest bill, legalizing ADUs statewide, passed Oregon’s legislature last year. (Trying to avoid the pitfall of Washington’s earlier ADU legalization, Senate Bill 1051 allowed cities to subject ADUs only to “reasonable” regulations—another case of Oregon legislators leaving the details to courts and regulators.) As in Washington, Oregon faces renewed talk about new state-level upzoning bills.

Finally, Andersen also examines the political realities state governments will have to negotiate to enact mote state preemption in the future. 

Full Story:
Published on Friday, November 2, 2018 in Sightline Institute
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