I live in the 37th District, which covers the southeast part of Capitol Hill, Central District and most of Beacon Hill. I chose to meet with Sharon Tomiko Santos, chair of the House Education Committee. During the 2015 session she was a primary sponsor for education bills, transit, and women and minority own business but the one I was most interested in was the Affordable Urban Housing bill, HB2049.
HB2049 would require Washington local government entities to create an inventory of their real owned public properties that were being underutilized and report the identified inventory to the Department of Commerce. The identified land that was suitable for development would be put into an affordable housing land bank within the department. The land would then be utilized by urban areas being defined as an area with a population greater than 200,000 reported by the census to create affordable housing. The housing developed would be for very low income, low income, and middle income units. Not all publicly owned real property would be ideal for affordable housing developments. The local government entity is able to sale the land at a market rate but will still give an amount equal to 20 percent of the sale price the revenue collected would be allocated to the housing assistance program. The program would utilize the revenue for grants or assistance to organizations supplying affordable housing.
The part of HB2049 which I felt did a disservice to the goal of the bill which is to appropriate the most underutilized land for affordable housing was the land bank transfer section. If an entity sold a parcel for market value they would not have to give 20 percent of the sale price to the housing assistance program if they offered up another parcel to the land bank that matched 20 percent of the original parcel sold at market price. While the land being transferred must be accepted by the land bank meaning it must be a viable property for affordable housing I feel it is still less than if the original parcel were added to the bank and no revenue is then given to the housing assistance program. I traveled to Olympia to understand why this was a main component the bill thinking who better than a primary sponsor.
Sadly, I did not receive an answer. I met Representative Santos for a brief moment to receive her card and an apology that she would not be able to meet with me as she was called away on another matter. I chatted with her assistant for a couple of minutes but was not able to get into HB2049.