Senate passes second Padden bill removing red tape from construction of smaller condominiums

A year ago, the Legislature unanimously approved a bill from 4th District Sen. Mike Padden that helps encourage home ownership in Washington by making it easier to construct smaller condominium buildings.

A similar condo-construction measure introduced by Padden is advancing this year following passage today by the Senate on a 49-0 vote. The proposal now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Bill 5792 would exclude buildings with 12 or fewer units that are no more than three stories high from the definition of “multiunit residential building” if one story is utilized for above- or below-ground parking or retail space.

“This bill builds on last year’s efforts to have more housing options for Washington’s middle class,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “Condominiums provide an affordable path to homeownership for first-time homebuyers.”

When SB 5792 received a public hearing in the Senate Law and Justice Committee last month, several people testified in favor of it, including Spokane Valley City Council member Rod Higgins, Spokane City Council President Betsy Wilkerson, Greenstone Corporation’s Jim Frank and officials from the Washington Realtors Association and the Building Industry Association of Washington.

The law created last year by Padden’s Senate Bill 5058 exempts buildings with 12 or fewer units that are no more than two stories high from the definition of “multiunit residential building.”

Padden said the combination of that law and this year’s new bill should result in more homeownership in the state.

“Washington has one of the lower homeownership rates in the nation, and both policies can help our state address this problem,” said Padden. “These smaller condominiums would still have the same building requirements that a townhouse or single-family house would have.”