Government Affairs Monthly Update

Ryan Makinster

Ryan Makinster is the BIA’s Government Affairs Director. Ryan has more than 18 years of non-profit administration, public relations, communications, and government relations experience. You can reach Ryan directly via email or call 360.694.0933.

The Government Affairs Committee meets on the second Monday of the month in the BIA office at 3:30 pm.

Aggregate Aggravation

As many of you know and have discussed with me, the aggregate rock issues in Clark County are a big concern for our industry, as well as others. If you aren’t aware, a recent letter in the Vancouver Business Journal penned by Andrea Smith of SWCA gives a good overview of the issue. I, along with SWCA, ICC and others in the community are working to address this issue on all fronts, but I need your help.

In order to create a compelling argument on behalf of our industry I need data to support our arguments. To mount opposition to anti-development groups and NIMBYs, to fight for continued and expanded quarry operations and to support our narrative of the continued assault on housing affordability we must have our industry’s facts at the ready!

This is where I need you. I need actual data and I’m asking you to complete a short survey for 1 to 6 projects. As always, identifying information and specific data will be held in confidence by me and only aggregate (no pun intended) data and summaries will be shared publically (unless you give permission for wider distribution).

There will be a public hearing regarding Livingston in the next few weeks and the NIMBYs are already organized and ready to testify so we need this information ASAP.

Housing Affordability — An All Hands on Deck Crisis

Although we know that housing affordability is a problem in Clark County (we received great perspective on this at our recent Legislative Review luncheon), the issue is much bigger than just our county.

On Monday July 8, the Association of Washington Business along with other groups including BIAW and Washington Realtors, held a housing forum in Bellevue to highlight the issue and discuss solutions.

As a preface, Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA 10th District) started by telling those assembled, this isn’t a Seattle problem, or even a Washington state issue, it is a national problem that requires our immediate attention and comprehensive solutions. Contrary to the answers being pushed by some, no one solution will address the missing millions of houses. Housing subsidies? Yep. Increased land supply? Yep. Mental health and addiction help? Yep. Efficiencies in permitting. Yep. Less or at least more adaptable regulations? Yep. Fill the labor gap? Yep.

According to Congressman Heck, and others who shared throughout the day, the cost of housing is driven by the 4 Ls: Lumber, Land, Lending and Labor. Lumber refers not only to lumber, but the rising costs of building materials, of which lumber is the most significant. Land doesn’t only seek to address availability, but usability, cost due to regulations and fees and accessibility. Lending refers to the constraints placed on lenders (after the recession) that does not align with construction needs, schedules or the needs of high growth communities. And finally, labor, which we know lags far behind the needs of the home construction industry. A good primer on the issues and the need for change is the Missing Millions of Homes report.

Many ideas were discussed, and solutions proposed, but will require a willingness of all stakeholders to work together across industries, interest groups, and political ideologies. Presenters from both sides of the aisle pointed to the opportunity for both sides to come together to start addressing these problems through legislation in the 2020 session.

Some low hanging fruit already exists, ready to be drafted and supported by members of both parties, but the question remains–will special interests be willing to concede theirs isn’t the only solution? Will these groups forego their self interest for the good of the whole, or will the few anti-development voices whispering in the ear of the majority win the day? We’ll see, but be assured there are many across industries, associations, business groups, public agencies and elected officials and “the aisle” willing to work together on this. Let’s ensure our voice is the loudest.