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City takes action to address housing crisis

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Tri-Cities leaders are taking action to address the current housing crisis.

The City of Pasco recently passed an ordinance that allows accessory dwellings.

Mike Gonzalez, economic development manager for the City of Pasco, said it gives homeowners more flexibility and opportunities to expand.

"It allows you to build a small house either in your backyard or certain segment on your property," Gonzalez said. "It allows more people more opportunity with different pricing levels to live all across the city and really opens up all these zoning opportunities."

For developers like James Sexton, owner and operator of JMS Construction & Development, some materials like pipes are in short supply.

"That's a huge impact to what slows things down," Sexton said. "If we can't get it and it costs too much to get, we can't put it in the ground."

He said the price for housing materials is also skyrocketing which makes it more expensive to build.

"We have to figure out how to conserve land, conserve costs and still get a decent product to people and unfortunately, the only way to do that is by going up," Sexton said.

He's talking about building more 'middle housing', a term used to describe housing types like townhouses, apartments and duplexes.

"People should be able to go out and buy a starter home that they can afford to make the payment on," Sexton said.

Leaders said this type of housing is for aging populations, first-time homebuyers, and middle and low income populations.

But restrictive zoning ordinances across Washington state limit the areas those can be developed.

It's an issue that won't be solved over night, but the city is working with developers to find ways to keep costs down and speed up the construction process.

"I think we're headed in the right direction, but obviously it's going to take the entire jurisdiction to all come together and really come up with a comprehensive solution," Gonzalez said.

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State leaders are discussing two bills, HB 1782 and SB 5670, in the 2022 Legislative Session that focus on creating more 'middle housing' opportunities and eliminating some of those zoning laws.

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