2018 Hill Day Series: REALTORS® urge Hirst fix, Legislature acts

REALTORS® met with legislators this week to support legislation that allows local governments to rely on the Department of Ecology’s permit decisions and regulations to determine legal water availability.

In a late hour compromise approved Thursday, the House and Senate passed a fix to the Hirst decision, which allows housing development to go forward.

Under the Washington Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling, counties that could previously to rely on Washington Department of Ecology rules related to instream flows of rivers and streams had to make independent decisions about whether there’s enough water to approve any building permit that would rely on a well. This decision virtually stopped the issuance of building permits in affected areas.

The Hirst ruling significantly impacted landowners in rural areas by blocking them from legally obtaining water and thus preventing them from developing their land. REALTORS® have urged a solution to correct this problem.

“I sensed a more cooperative atmosphere on our legislative visits this year,” said Christopher Grimm, a broker with Windermere RE Co. Ballard, who visited with Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43). Speaker Chopp and other legislative leaders negotiated a solution to the Hirst dilemma over the last several months.

“The Hirst fix is one more step in increasing housing supply and improving affordability,” said Georgia Wall, Seattle King County REALTORS® VP of Government & Public Affairs and broker with John L. Scott Bothell.

The bill now awaits Governor Jay Inslee’s signature. Read the details of the bill.

UPDATE Jan. 19, 1:03 p.m.: Governer Inslee signed SB 6091 early Friday afternoon.