The Fight Against Small Apartments

Why Neighborhood Groups Are Uniting to Stop Developers from Building Tiny, Affordable Units

Comments

1
I'm sure something will be worked out where there are vast areas of untouched single-family homes, and also oodles of these matchbox apartments. City officials want this, and their job is to sort out the needs of all.
2
The "concern" seems to be classism and NIMBYism at its finest.
3
This shit *WOULD NOT* be a problem if Seattle had affordable housing. But it's getting to be like San Francisco.

And "a magnet for very sketchy people"? Not everyone is raking in the cash for a swanky condo unit in Belltown, or Capitol "Snob" Hill.

Seriously, Alan Gossett, get over yourself - or move to Woodenville.
4
Holy shit, you've done it, sir. This I would happily Pulitzerize, were it up to me. Magnificent.
5
Wouldn't be an issue if rent was affordable in Seattle. Now I do sympathies with current homeowners who expect a cute little row of houses to be built and get, oh I don't know, 6 new neighbors instead of an apartment building with 46 new neighbors... quite the change in the appearance of that neighborhood from single family housing (or even duplexes) to micro-apartments... zoning issue maybe?
Then again this is the US where if you have the right amount of money and the right people to "loby" city hall, you can built the ugliest building in down right next to an 19th century mansion (don't believe me, go drive thru Spokane)
6
Good article! The city needs these units, and while I will not be living in these units, they are needed and those disapproving fucks are NIMBY as hell.
7
What a great article! Thank you!
8
While I am a card carrying democrat, and while I do not live anywhere near Seattle, and do not necessarily have the faintest idea what I am talking about, I will say this:

I am a cheapskate and I live in a very cheap place in an otherwise wealthy neighborhood. I am happy with it, on balance. Everything is crammed very tightly together. And so, I am often woken up from sleep or distracted from my relaxation by my neighbors' very loud yelling arguments: ambiguous bdsm scene/domestic violence/arguing about drugs or money or paying the rent/unending stream of profanity. And it feels as though if I were in a more expensive place where the houses were spaced farther apart, this wouldn't happen. These annoy me, but I like saving money, and I am kind of poor myself, so I tolerate it.

So, from that point of view, I can understand the idea that if you have plenty of money to spend, having sudden new cheap, cramped-together housing in your already-paid-for neighborhood might legitimately not be something that you want.

However, I'm still very new to the whole housing/zone debate so I'm sure I've made some thought-errors, feel free to correct me.
9
Great article.

I've been amused by the fuss over microapartments. I've lived in "rooming houses" in a university town quite comfortably and affordably. I've lived in studio apartments that were as small as these units, only they were considered normal for the area! In Europe, people have lived in "bed-sitters" for centuries, paying a smaller rent to live in a lively area where they spend a lot of time outside of their room in restaurants, pubs and coffeehouses, the "common spaces" of the area - thus supporting local businesses, creating a lively community.

Get over yourselves, NIMBY's. This is the wave of the future, and we want these people here to contribute to the lively nature of our city.
10
@9: I have as well. It depends on the reason why local people are poor. If they are poor because they are students, or just bad luck, then it's awesome and fine. If, on the other hand, they are poor because they have multiple compounded issues and problems, it's not quite as good to be right next to them.
11
There's one of these monstrosities a few blocks from me. (Cap Hill).

For me, I don't like them because they're too tall and take away the small neighborhood-y feel of the area to me. I lived in another part of the Hill where there were nothing but tall buildings, and it was great to be able to have the option to get away from that (above Broadway). It's sad that building height is even increasing on Broadway, it's really destroying things.

The view blockage isn't an issue w/me; I don't have one anyway, nor does is the property value point much concern, as I'm a renter. But the thought that suddenly 40 or 50 more people will be on this street isn't good. It'll mean less parking (even if only 10 people in the bldg own cars, parking's tight enough already); more noise; more trash; more crime. I don't mean because of people in those units being "sketchy"; that didn't occur to me until reading this article, it's just that w/more people you get more of all the bad stuff. (I can't wait for fights to break out between strangers who have to share the same kitchen).

I also have some safety concerns. They build this new housing so close to buildings next door, I'd be worried when a fire breaks out in these new buildings it'll quickly spread to other buildings. I was also told (haven't had this verified) that there are no elevators in some of these buildings, not enough stairwells, and that the stairwell can't accommodate stretchers. If that's true, I find it very troubling.

You should run anti-apodment article for balance; there is in fact one Stranger writer I know who doesn't like them, so you might find someone willing. I think it would be very interesting.
12
I'm currently getting run off the hill (where I'd really like to stay) by a $100 rent increase. Thanks for the great article...should be required reading in this money grubbing town. Suck it you smug neighborhoodies!!!
13
I lived in an SRO hotel when I moved to Seattle. The Mark Twain apartments on Second Ave. in Belltown.

I wasn't sketchy then, I'm not sketchy now.
14
Damn, I wish I could edit my posts. People can also be poor because they have a super cool and awesome job that just so happens to not be rewarded by the vagaries of capitalism.
15
Let me give you an idea of what we're trying to prevent.

A guide of affordable housing in NYC.

Dominic, you're speeding us right to NYC levels of retardation, without having NYC levels of salary.

Some of us are pushing for affordable housing that's actually housing, instead of rooms. But, to you, that's fucking dishonest, right?
16
You nailed it! I'm a 50-year-old Capitol Hill homeowner who strongly supports microhousing and other experiments in affordable, sustainable living, and I have been embarrassed and appalled as a small but loud and politically savvy, well-organized group of my neighbors have seized the spotlight, harassed city officials, and claimed to speak for our entire neighborhood in opposing microhousing. No one elected them, and they certainly don't represent me. I hope all of our City Council members will read your piece and follow your sound and level-headed recommendations to make the best decisions for our city's vibrancy and future.
17
I'm pro density, but these units are not cheap affordable housing. Pods going for $800-$900 a month is ridiculous when my studio with a bath/kitchen goes for $745.

I've no beef with the people, or the type of units, but lets not call it something it isn't, Some of these are not cheap spaces for low income folk.

I wish they were nicer to look at, but I wish that of most of all the new condos/apartments built regardless of size.

That, and exploiting loopholes is bad, and they should feel bad. Close the hole, and ensure they are actually affordable and I'm for them.
18
@15, I've followed your comments pretty closely on this issue. They seem to rest on the premise that support for apodments takes away support for affordable larger spaces. That it's a zero-sum situation where each of us must choose to support one or the other. And those of us who think we support them both are just fooling ourselves, or assholes, or both.

Could you put some foundation under that premise for us with a link or two maybe?
19
Building apodments in areas where there is not nearby frequent transit is a non-starter, unless it's a bicyclist or electric moped commune.

Which, when you check the zoning plats, means apodments should be potentially limited to the SR zoning within 2 blocks of a frequent transit point, or within 10 blocks of a major bike trail for bike apodments.

Otherwise you overwhelm the parking resources.

That said, the market "should" choose areas that are in fact near transit or bike arterials, since the demand is there.
20
I like how the photo is colored all nicely to disguise the fact that apodments look like SHIT. And angled the photo to cut out the chain link fence. Only rich people deserve to live in places that aren't soul-destroying?

Basically, MY problem with apodments IS the design.
21
I am, apparently, a “busybody” deserving of ridicule because I voluntarily spend my time advocating for positive change for my neighbors and neighborhood. As a long-standing board member of one of those loathsome community council’s that The Stranger is so fond of bashing, I’m simply a NIMBY. Nevermind that we help fund public art, that we raise money so our under-funded public school can have a playground, that we work with the City to squeeze a little park land into our community. Nevermind that we enter joint ventures to build affordable housing projects in our neighborhood. None of that matters to an anti-community publication that has never seen a multifamily project it didn’t like. Developers pretty much get their way in Seattle, in pretty much any zone they like and there’s vanishing little anyone can do to keep from getting ugly crap built in their neighborhood. Design Review isn’t a lever to stop development, as noted in the article. It is, however, all we have to try to mitigate the tendency of developers to foist their value-engineered aesthetic eyesores on our neighborhood. Development of a given scope and scale requires Design Review, and it really isn’t too much to ask ‘apodments’ to play by the same rules. Calling me a NIMBY is like saying The Stranger carries water for the Master Builders Association; it’s true, but it’s not the whole story.
22
Basically, MY problem with apodments IS the design.
So you object to affordable housing in these areas because such housing offends your aesthetic taste?
23
I live in a building that overlooks the apodments in your photo. I'm out and about in the neighborhood all the time (I walk most places and I have a dog).

As far as "a magnet for sketchy people" goes, that development has been no more of a problem than the Safeway parking lot or the bus stops near by.
24
You are making the unwarranted assumption that unlimited density is a good thing. Do we really want Capitol Hill and the Seattle inner city to look like Manhattan or Hong Kong? Shouldn't quality of life issues be given some consideration?
25
I lived in Seattle for 6 1/2 years and absolutely loved it. It was beautiful, culturally diverse... and fucking expensive. Like it said in this article, apartment prices are insanely expensive. Working in the restaurant industry, I was lucky if I brought home $1,500/month - which meant that I was living in a $1,300/month five-bedroom house with four other people. That was the ONLY way I could afford to cover my living expenses and still have a little bit of money left over. I'm not "sketchy" in the least, I work my ass off, and was still barely able to "scrape up enough money to live month-to-month".

While there are things that I hate about where I'm living now (North Dakota), I LOVE the fact that I have an 820 square foot, 2-bed 1-bath apartment - with water/sewer/garbage AND a garage included in the cost of my $455/month rent.

Don't get me wrong... I love Seattle for the variety, the culture, and the scenery. But the normal, average, everyday man (and woman) doesn't make enough to be able to afford a $250k (or significantly more expensive) house. The cost of living is what drove me away - and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

-D
26
Even in the comments, it comes down to aesthetics. Want brick fascades and marble entryways on working-class housing? Pay for it yourself.
27
I walked past a few aPodment complexes many times before realizing that they were the buildings everyone is up in arms about. I think the aPodments middle-of-the-road design is a better choice than some of the new townhouses that have been built. Those things look modern right now, but in a few years they're going to look as outdated as the Brady Bunch house, and as they're built in between 80-year-old houses, they're going to stick out like a sore thumb.
28
Those look much better than full-scale apartment buildings. I'm going to start pushing for apodments in my neighbourhood.
29
$800-$900 for less than a studio and a shared kitchen? What has happened to this city? The cost of housing in general is outrageous. Is that not the source of this problem?

Also, true free parking in front of your house isn't a constitutional right... but neither is living in Seattle.

NIABY Not In Anyone's Backyard.
30
@18 One needs go no further than Seattle's Planning commission report which specifically states their reports do not focus on quality, just quantity.

Specifically, I know city officials and reporters depend on statistics that state "Hey, look. We increased affordable housing by X units this year!"

One also can look to Dominic's spin. "The number of new microunits are only a fraction of the total new units." That fraction being 1 out of every 3 new units. Actually, it's even more than 1 out of 3, but we'll round. If I told you that 33% of all new units were microunits, would you say that was a fraction?

Or, Dominic fully buying into Matthew Gardner's bullshit, when he's partners with Windemere Real Estate! Of course he's going to say rent won't increase because of microunits. Windemere will profit from that by being able to drive up rents and home prices. Follow the money.

Dominic is a full on fucking credulous hack, and this piece is chock full of hackery. He couldn't find a real estate economist to agree with him that was t paid by real estate agencies.
31
@21, I'm sure it feels good to rage at developers, but as you recognize that design review doesn't stop things from getting built, I hope you realize that you end up increasing the cost of whatever gets built. And because you end up increasing the cost, you make it harder for cheaper places to get built, and for *smaller developers* to navigate the rage-fuelled process you participate in.
32
@30 Please provide a list of real estate economists that don't do business with real estate companies.
33
Excellent article, Dominic. Should be required reading for anyone wading into this debate.
34
As a previous resident who lived in a pod in Capitol Hill and now lives in a microhousing unit in the U-district, the only legitimate complaint the opposition has is about the parking. Everyone who moves into an Apodment has to pass a mandatory criminal background check. My neighbors have predominantly been kind working class people, students, and the disabled. Some are even frugal upper middle class folks!

Both buildings I lived in are well maintained and typically cost anywhere from $395-1,000. We have a couple of janitors who clean the bathrooms, the kitchen, the laundry room, and the entrance at least twice a week. We also have regular fire drills and safety inspections. I always feel safe and comfortable here and living conditions are ideal for the price. ...Please don't buy into this classist garbage that The Downtown Seattle Neighbors Association espouse.
35
@32 So, you're telling me all real estate economists are untrustworthy?

Or...maybe...
36
@24 I'm more afraid of Seattle costing as much as Palo Alto, which is what happens when you have a strong economy and high demand but a limit on building.

Besides, you're dreaming if you think Seattle could end up looking anything like Manhattan within your lifetime even if we removed all building limits.
37
@36 Quoting Seattle Transit blog? Bitch, please...
38
Folks: your wonderful past cubbie-hole housing experiences in Europe or shared bungalows in Ravenna are heart-warming -- irrelevant -- stories. If an aPodment is an independent dwelling unit, it does not comply with standards for rental housing in Washington State and the City of Seattle. Full kitchens and a sink in the bathroom are required. Don't like it? Change the law. I'm perfectly happy with a new kind of entry-level urban rental housing -- if legally built. Dominic: when you itemize then dissect your opponents' positions, don't ignore the ones you can't refute.
39
This has nothing to do with aesthetics or design or quality of life or any of the other bullshit I'm reading here, on both sides.

The real problem is that young singles -- the people these apodments are geared towards -- are not the real poor. This is something of a hipster-empowerment movement, building new units for the Capitol Hill bar-hopping crowd, The Stranger-reading crowd, but does nothing for working-class or service-class families, who want and need proper full-service apartments or houses. This is all about well-off young people with good educations and good jobs, in other words.

The real poor are being left out of the discussion. They don't read The Stranger, because The Stranger is for privileged white people, not Latino immigrants or poor black people or uneducated "white trash". They're the ones who are still going to be pushed out to Auburn and taking hour-and-a-half buses to their increasingly nonexistent jobs at Rite-Aid or the car wash.

Note: I'm not against apodments. I think they're fine. But they're not going to solve the problem that some people think they're going to solve. And I don't think the problem they ARE going to partly solve, that of young folks who want to live on Capitol Hill but can't afford an apartment, is very interesting.
40
If you don't like sketchy people, solve that problem by fully funding rehabilitation and social services that keep them from getting "sketchy."

Making sure they don't live next to you is not a solution to sketchy. It's a fearful, crouching capitulation.

Weak sauce, in other words. Weak, narrow minded, bullshit sauce.
41
I feel Americans routinely overestimate the amount of space needed for comfortable living. Nevertheless, 150 to 250 sq. ft. isn't living space, it's sleeping space. As living space, it's a false economy.

A resident in one of these could very well end up needing to rent some off-site storage as well subsisting on restaurant and prepared meals (it takes space to store food and cook rather than just reheat). These can quickly inflate monthly living costs and negate that "affordable" housing expense.

Seattle isn't Manhattan where people put up with this kind of abuse. Seattle simply doesn't have the endless smorgasbord of cultural and career opportunities that Manhattan has to offer that make an over-cramped lifestyle endurable. In fact, we've likely already reached the upper limit on the development of those opportunities here.

This is yet another example of real estate developer greed (I'm convinced they all go straight to hell when they die; spare us the job creation BS). But, what's most distressing is that there are people lacking in the critical thinking skills necessary to objectively evaluate what living in one of these pods can fully entail.
42
Those people that live in the city cannot complain about density and commuter traffic. As more people can live within the city they work in, and mass transit services improve, traffic problems will not increase at the same rate that it has.

Also, why should anyone that cannot or chooses not to live in large spaces be considered sketchy. Is greed for space good? Seattle prides itself on being green and leading in sustainability. Living in more space than one needs is less than sustainable.
43
And count me among those who believes (at least in the current market, this could flip pretty fast) that we simply have a gross supply problem in the housing market. Not enough. We simply need more.

We have geographic challenges - lakes, crazy hillsides, rivers, ravines, canals, Puget Sound - all in abundance WAY over the average for an American City - that mean simply annexing another block is not a sustainable or supportable model for growth. We have to be more creative and aggressive about density than other cities because of where our city is.

We've also fought density for a long time and that simple, gross supply problem I mentioned has resulted. If the city seems to simply be talking about MORE rather than BETTER right now, it's a natural consequence of this city putting off development and density for as long as it did. Smart growth takes time. We frittered our time away instead of slowly but surely expanding density, capacity, and housing options. Now we're simply behind the curve and have to catch up.
44
@39 Fnarf is right (as usual).

if this were the 'affordable housing' being built in the south end for people of color or immigrants, Council would be all over it complaining about packing poor people into 140 sq ft apartments and would be finding ways to improve the standards of these projects.

the fact that the tenants are largely young working class white folks that are really just looking for a place to live in a hip neighborhood that they can afford mitigates the problem with these to some degree.

because socially they are single and they can afford to eat out, or get lunch at the Amazon cafeteria, hang out in coffee shops or at bike polo, or whatever other means these projects have devised to exteranlize costs, people shrug these off.
45
You want cheaper apartments, increase the supply. There's an excess of demand, and personally, the one thing I hate about Seattle is that there is a dearth of multi-family units. While I'm generally happy here, one thing I miss is the neighborhood density of east coast 'suburbs' of Boston (more like seattle's neighborhoods), where nearly ALL dwellings are 2-3 families, where single family homes were divided in 2 to make room for the reasonable density the region actually demands. Things will change and the NIMBYists will die and eventually learn to deal like adults with change. it's the way the world works, rich fucks.

Suck it up and don't be dicks to those who don't make your silver-spoon paycheck.
46
The Stranger is just another bunch of fuckwit developer whores.
47
@21 The point is that not that you're not willing to volunteer for things that suit your own interests -- a playground for your own kids, a park for you to use -- it's that you're trying to keep poor people out.
48
While I'm generally happy here, one thing I miss is the neighborhood density of east coast 'suburbs' of Boston (more like seattle's neighborhoods), where nearly ALL dwellings are 2-3 families, where single family homes were divided in 2 to make room for the reasonable density the region actually demands.

The only reason you think you can get away with such an outrageous lie is that you imagine that everyone in Seattle is a fuckwit who's never lived in the suburbs of Boston, or visited relatives who live there.

What a lying asshole you are.
49
Diesel said:
While there are things that I hate about where I'm living now (North Dakota), I LOVE the fact that I have an 820 square foot, 2-bed 1-bath apartment - with water/sewer/garbage AND a garage included in the cost of my $455/month rent.
Yes, but you are living in North Dakota.
50
@47 - if people are willing to pay $900/month for less than 200sqft apartment space, they are not "poor".

and the keeping people out is a false argument raised against those that want to ensure minimum habitable and safe buildings which fit into the neighborhood are being built in. people in those communities have the right to raise that issue.

and complaining about @21's activities, one could use that same argument against the transit blog looking for transportation solutions for "you" to use which are subsidized quite substantively.

let's focus on the real issues to keep the discussion above the NIMBY/profiteering level it has degraded to...
51
@39 You read my mind. These are for the fresh out of college twentysomethings, not a working class family of four. If these are going to continue being built, they need to be regulated such as no more than one adult per unit, and a rental cap similar to the way the city sets the rates for parking (as these are essentially a parking space with walls and a roof).

Just as the minimum wage isn't a livable wage, microhousing is not livable housing. We need to work away from the term "affordable housing," as these apartments serve as a reminder that talking solely about affordability isn't discussing the whole picture.
52
@50 $600/month * 12 = $7,200 per year. Considering it's very common for the low income to have rent:income ratios of well over 50%, let's double that to $14,400/yr. The US Census defines poverty as $11,139 for a single person, so that's not quite "poor", but pretty darn close.
53
I lived in a studio with a shared kitchen when I first moved to Seattle. It was perfectly doable, and a great solution. All these people who live in the city and complain about density and diversity have serious issues. Go soak your head.
54
Your dedication to uncovering all sides to this debate (including your strange abduction by the Nikfards) is fantastic. Thank you for the great article! Hopefully this will help enlighten people about the issues involved. It seems that many wealthy people who own homes in the city reflexively fear those who have less than they do. This silly knee-jerk reaction needs to be confronted. Being NIMBY about the poor is disgusting.
55
@39 and @44. Yes, yes, yes. Calling these units affordable "housing" is very disengenous.
56
@52 If you really think that the people living in adpodments are genuinely poor, rather than just lower-income, you must live a life of such privilege that you've never actually known a poor person.
57
@39 I agree with, literally, every work you wrote. I wonder though if there isn't some trickle down effect from having apodments as an option for hipster twentysomethings that then makes housing more affordable for the working poor.

Anemically, I think about the fact that in my neighborhood of Seattle we don't have apodments that I know of, but in the house right next to mine there are 6 twentysomethings who have essentially turned that house into a make-shift apodment, taking what would be a single family home and turning every room into a bedroom (including the living room) and sharing bathrooms and a kitchen.

I have no problem whatsoever with them doing this, but I wonder if this demographic had the option of apodments would that lower the overall demand for more traditional housing and make it more affordable for workers.

I do completely agree with your point though that apodments are not the panacea for Seattle's affordable housing problems that some might think they are.
58
"and the keeping people out is a false argument raised against those that want to ensure minimum habitable and safe buildings which fit into the neighborhood are being built in. people in those communities have the right to raise that issue."

Habitable and safe is up to the residents and developers to assess, not some nosy neighbor who thinks they have dibs on the neighborhood and fuck anyone that wants to be part of the community. You are being such the provincial Seattle resident with your comment.
59
@56 I've shown that someone making $14k a year (though not "genuinely poor" enough for you) will have another housing option if we let developers build. How exactly will denying these help anyone?
60
I lived in that very apodment pictured for 3 months when I first moved to Seattle. There was nothing sketchy about it. I can count the number of times I saw my fellow "apodmenters" on my fingers...it was eerily quiet at all hours. Most everyone I met who lived there was either in college or had recently graduated.
Honestly it was one of the nicest/bourgeoie-st places I've ever lived (granted I was only the 2nd tenant).

And yes, it's still expensive to live in an apodment. Rent goes up significantly if you chose to stay on after the initial 3 month lease.

61
Dominic,
Great Article. That sucks that guy pretty much kidnapped you. I'd have taken the lower road. I appreciate you coming out to actually see a unit (Unlike Dennis and his crew) and meet the people that live in these units. It's all about class and social issues with "them" no matter what they say. If they are that concerned why are they not going out of there way to to enforce living standards everywhere in Seattle? There are shitty rooms and housing with cramped areas all over the city that are falling apart including most of the redeveloped housing these are being built on. I know a few friends living in crawl spaces and sketchy converted attics. Why do they investigate the traditional builders of Larger units and ask them why they charge so much that many people cannot afford. Also I don't see how they can say the buildings will fall apart and are built shitty and then say at the same time they will last for 200 years and be an eye sore. And Dennis I'm still waiting for your "Proforma" showing that these buildings Net +$300,000 a year. What an idiot you'll believe anything on the internet.

Also, I come from the traditional multifamily management corporations. These units are going to perhaps drive rates down because there will be less demand from singles either needing a studio or, sharing a two bedroom. Why would it drive it up? Yeah some in the units don't want to pay $1200 not because they cant afford it but because its fucken stupid to pay that kind of money when you aren't there a lot.
62
In reply to those who argue about the increase of supply of cheaper housing units not being economically sound, please educate yourselves to the most basic of all economic principles of supply and demand.

Current situation: There is very high demand for specific locations in Seattle, which are hemmed in by very real constraints of physical geography (hills/water/mountains). There is a lack of supply. Lack of supply in high demand areas (whether for housing or the ever-trendy quinoa) will increase the cost, thus pricing out those who cannot afford the good, and forcing them to move either outside their preferred area to say Everett, or buy a less palatable alternative, rice.

You increase the supply, the price is bound to fall as there is more availability, lots go empty (failing to benefit the owner) or quinoa sits on a shelf, not benefiting the seller, so the price drops.

It's basic basic math, people. Please! I'm sure you can look it up on a free educational resource like khanacademy.org or similar.
63
@59 $14,400 After taxes. Be honest.
64
Chiming in to add my voice to the chorus of agreement with Fnarf.

These micro-units may indeed fill a niche for a certain segment of the population, but in no way can they be considered THE answer to Seattle housing for the working poor.

And the way the developers knowingly got around regulations by claiming "6 units" to one group, and "48 units" to another is just.... deceitful.
65
@38,

Speaking of ones he can't refute, he brought up and then ignored (when it came time to counter his opponents) the argument that aPodments draw transient tenants (defined as people who don't put down roots and move out of the neighborhood in 12 months or less). That argument is factually correct. Very few people are going to treat aPodments as anything more than transitional housing.

And maybe bringing a ton of transient tenants into Capitol Hill isn't going to negatively affect the neighborhood, but that Dominic just ignores or brushes off arguments he can't refute is hilarious. It's almost like he's a credulous hack.
66
Seattle drives me up the wall. People want it to be big city like yet castrate the building and permitting process. You want more affordable housing? Allow taller residential buildings downtown and the outlying areas.

In Chicago I could buy a nice 2 bedroom 1.5 bath condo for 250k with minimal dues and still be 20 minutes to the loop via a 4 block walk to the El.

We need more housing and allowing these micro houses is part of the solution.
67
@63: Oh Misanthrope, you never fail to impress with the depths of your stupidity. How much in taxes do you think a person making $14,400 a year pays? I can understand why you'd hate people when you're the dumbest one in every crowd.
69
I don't want things to change either. I want Seattle to be exactly like it was two years ago, with plenty of nice restaurants and coffee shops in walking distance, available housing in urban centers (though you had to hunt for it), and pretty craftsman houses for rent.

But they are changing, and that is inevitable. Prices will go up, density will go up, parking will disappear and every halfway decent restaurant will have a line going out the door. We cannot control this. Microhousing didn't cause it, and banning it won't fix it. The demand is there, and the demand will create the future.

You'd better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone because the times, they are a changing.
70
Dominic, you are my hero!

*This* is journalism.
71
I was living in a duplex at 23rd and John and got kicked because of this building. I have no problem with these types of units, but the company that bought and then tore down the house i lived in were fucking assholes. They lied to us and stole our money. Fuck them and their over-priced dorm room apartments.
72
@67 Oh Republican troll. You know nothing about living paycheck to paycheck.
73
Population density is what makes cities city-like but the density in these things is only marginally better than your average small apartment building. It's greener and better for cities in the long run to have more high rises with smaller footprints than thousands of these little things (essentially townhouses on steroids subdivided into closet-like apartments). These type of developments are often crammed into spaces that previously had a larger yard/domicile ratio. Yards/open spaces with plants, trees, grasses act as natural catch and filtration basins for rain water. When you consider the massive increase in square footage of impermeable roof lines and concrete driveways where naturally absorbant material used to exist you can see there will eventually be water-related problems (see Greenwood) in neighborhoods where development is racing ahead of geological surveys and the city is too broke to even cover the cost of analysis. Typical of The Stranger, everything has to examined through a class-oriented lens where resistance to these neighborhood-destroying eyesores is viewed as bourgeois fear of poor people. I'm fine with having a 15 story Apodment with a small foot print in the heart of Ballard but do we have to have one gazillion of these things crammed into every available green space? Jeesh, where are the damn butterflies and bees supposed to live?
74
Nailed it. Thanks for writing something important.
75
There needs to be a mix of all type of housing... rents are getting higher all the time. I have a fairly solid job, and have been in the same place for nearly eight years, and every year my rent goes up between $50 - $100 a month, while my wages have stagnated and more has been deducted for health insurance and other things. Soon, I'll be priced right out of the Seattle rental market and have to move. Something does need to be done, but the folks who don't want the increased density need to realize they live in a city, not the country, and get used to this fact.
76
Rooms are good enough for you poor slugs! You don't DESERVE even a decent, affordable studio apartment. (well according to The Stranger)

BTW...is the guy who is putting up these aPodments advertizing in The Stranger? I think if we just follow the $$$.....
77
SINCE MARIJUANA IS NOW LEGAL IN WASHINGTON STATE, IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE THAT THE PEOPLE WHO SMOKE IT CAN NOT SUSTAIN DECENT JOBS. SO, PAYING $500 PER MONTH FOR AN "ALL UTILITIES INCLUDED" APARTMENT "IS THE TICKET."

SURELY, THE PEOPLE OF SEATTLE DO NOT THINK THERE WILL BE NO UNDESIRABLE CONSEQUENCES STEMMING FROM LEGAL DOPE. THESE PART-TIME OR UNEMPLOYED DOPE SMOKERS HAVE TO LIVE ... SOMEWHERE.

CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON
78
#39 gets the best comment of the thread award. Definitely nailed it, and nailed the Stranger and its hipster fuckwad wannabe yuppie crowd.
79
Seattle housing has been "unaffordable" pretty much the whole 23 years that I have lived here. When we started house shopping 17 years ago, it was already "too late". So we bought a house in a poor neighborhood and dealt with all of the ensuing noise, crime, lack of facilities, etc. Endurance and sweat equity enabled us to move to a nicer place and I have to say it would suck if the zoning were suddenly changed now. The Nimbys in this article sound ridiculously alarmist, but anybody who has gone through what we did of course does not want the rules changed, that's only natural..
80
@73 I think you should take a step back and look at that logic again. Let's take a look at that theoretical "15 story Apodment" you're taling about. Let's assume there's only one kitchen per floor, with 8 units per kitchen. That's 120 people on the same footprint that would have had one house.

Now instead of comparing the impact of that structure compared to the impact of a single house, take a broader view. Each of those 120 people would have been in other houses or apartments, spread around the region. Let's assume they each find a house to share with 3 other people: that's 30 houses built *somewhere*. Each of those houses took out some fields, forests, or farms to be built. Then they paved a driveway, and contributed to added highways.

In total, density is a massive win for the environmental impacts you're talking about.
81
Seattle isn't Manhattan where people put up with this kind of abuse.
It's fast getting that way...
82
One of the best articles written about the state of housing in this area. It is all about CHOICE people! Seattle will not be a city of only apodments because that isn't an option many people would choose. But for thse people earning $50,000 a year - many would rather live in a vibrant neighborhood and have some money left over to enjoy life instead of spending everything they earn on their housing - these are your teachers, firemen, CITY Planners!, etc. - hardly sketchy folks.
83
This is flat-out NIMBYism. Listen folks, YOU LIVE IN THE FUCKING CITY. If you don't like the density that comes with LIVING IN THE FUCKING CITY, move outside the city.

For YEARS I lived in Monroe and commuted in to Seattle every fucking day. But you can live closer - Woodenville, Kirkland, where ever.

But please stop bitching about LIVING IN THE FUCKING CITY with other people.

Also, I'll bet there isn't a single Black Man on any of these NIMBY "commities".
84
MICROAPARTMENTS AND APODMENTS ARE SYMPTOMS OF A PROBLEM, NOT A SOLUTION TO IT.

There is nothing inherent in developing urban density that requires reduction of the quality of life for the denizens of urban neighborhoods. There is nothing that says modest accommodations must be built at the expense of quality of living for the residents and surrounding neighbors. Quality of life cannot be simply expressed by a measure of dollars per square foot or other equally abstract measures.

Microapartments are an economic squeeze being put on people with the least amount of ability to defend themselves against the economic pressures being placed on them. They are a ruse and in the long term will not solve the problems they appear to address currently.
85
Microapartments are an economic squeeze being put on people with the least amount of ability to defend themselves against the economic pressures being placed on them.
Microappartments are an answer to a need for small living space for people who don't need or want more and don't want to pay for what they don't need.

If you are a couple or a family, *obviously* this is not for you. But if you are a student of a recent grad or a single person who doesn't need or want more, why PAY for more?

People who are saying this is marginalizing poor people need to pull their heads out of their asses and put down the latte and John Galt / Ayn Rand book and live in reality. Hugo Chávez is dead and Castro is soon to follow. All you Nike-wearing fake "Anarchists" and fake "social activists" need to get a life.
86
The Wife and I lived in a 23 foot travel trailer for 2 years, about 150 sq ft of living space. I loved it. She didn't. My biggest objection was no place to hang pictures.
87
I just have to call attention to these three sentences:
Every time developers must redesign the buildings to satisfy the neighbors, every time the project is delayed for further review, every time a spurious appeal is filed, the more it costs to build that project. And that has one predictable outcome: It will make them more expensive to rent, i.e., fewer people will be able to afford them. In other words, whether deliberate or not, the effect of neighborhood advocacy and its input on development projects will make living in these places more expensive and push out workers with less money.
What unbelievably huge pile of steaming bullshit, Dom!

Look...

What would you say if some corporate mouthpiece told you that, "Every time we have to submit our designs for this-here new power plant (coal shipping facility, etc) to review for design or be subject to "spurious environmental appeals" it only means that the cost of building the plant goes up and that means the price for the consumer will be higher"?

You'd call total bullshit on that ass-backwards, 1%-er, trickle-down-Reaganomics argument wouldn't you?

Cuz you're no fucking idiot and you know that the price to the consumer is determined by what the market will bear, and NOT by the costs of the production facility built for it.

So why treat us like we're idiots right here in the middle of the article, Dom?

The aPodment developers will rent the units for whatever price the market will bear. If their costs in construction are higher that DOES NOT mean that they will rent the units for more than people will pay for them -- it just means that the developer's profit margins will be slightly slimmer and their ROI will take longer to realize.

Those 1%-ers perhaps won't get richer quite as fast if we make them act responsibly. Oh. Well. Boo-fucking-hoo!!!

And if you really did believe that if developers didn't have to undergo full design review they'd magically "pass the savings on to renters"... well, you'd be a complete and total fucking moronic idiot, Dominic, simple as that.

And I honestly don't think you're an idiot. (At least not a complete and fucking total one.) So don't treat us like we are. Okay?

88
I personally support the construction of small apartments. If you look back in Seattle's history, during World War II there was a severe housing shortage. The result was lots of boarding houses, with almost the same amenities (private bed & bathroom; shared kitchen) as today's aPodments. The world didn't go to hell from having a dozen people living under the same roof. I doubt it will now either.

However, Holden's column earns no points with me over his encounter with the Nikfard brothers at Swifty Printing.

I've used Swifty's services many times. It's the type of family-run business that any neighborhood would welcome in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, its located at Third & Virginia, an area that grown much seedier over the years. I've been approached in broad daylight to buy drugs twice and physically threatened by a third dealer who apparently thought I looked too much like a cop and was scaring away his customers - all of this taking place at the bus stop across the street from Swifty's.

I take issue with Holden labeling the Nikfard's opposition to a 65-unit building for people "who are transitioning off the streets and into stable residences" as "fanaticism." The backgrounds of these residents more likely than not meet the definition of "sketchy." And Holden lets the Plymouth group off scot free with their claim that "the building will be designated solely for residents who "have demonstrated a long-term track record of stable and successful tenancy with Plymouth."" An objective reporter would've asked the obvious: if they've all had such a long-term track record of stable and successful tenancy (and presumably saving their money towards first & last) with Plymouth, why are they still there needing new accommodations?

If my business was located in a declining neighborhood and I was faced with the prospect of 65 more "transitional" people concentrated right behind me, I'd quickly become a NIMBY and start passing out flyers, too.
89
So tell me, "Timrr", how many windows did you bust out of locally owned businesses and businesses tha employ locals? Have you given any though to the fact that everything you are waering - do you have a Smart Phone? - and much of what you own was MADE by dirt-wage earners in Third World Countries?

Why don't you GET THE LEAD OUT and "put your money where your mouth is" and move to a fucking COMMUNE?
90
@83 for the win.

Look, the people that choose this housing will vary, depending on proximity to hospitals (more doctors and nurses with massive student loans), colleges and universities (more grad students and students), and job sites (locations near marine facilities might have transient fishers).

All deserve to live in Seattle.
91
I'm an aPodment renter for the past year and I'm thankful every day that I don't live in a distant, unwalkable, culturally-barren suburban wasteland. The sole reason that this is possible is exactly the sort of progressive, affordable urban housing that's currently under serious attack as described in this article.

If you don't believe that there's a war on the poor, try getting by in prosperous a major city on 1/3rd the median income. (It's called the veterinary field, and I love it, but the pay is peanuts).

Ignorant, well-funded NIMBYs scare the hell out of me. Get rich or GTFO of the 206? Hell, no!
92
Clearly, Will, you are a rube! You just don't understand that you are being opressed. Seriously, how does it feel when The Man fucks you up the ass "bareback" with a broken Coke bottle? And tell me, do you like giving Blow Jobs? Because clearly if you ARE NOT actually a "sketchy person", you must certainly be a low paid homosexual. The problem is not that you are gay, it's that you are poor. so get the fuck out of Cap Hill.
93
#83, how many Black Men live in those yuppie wannabe fuckwit apodments?
94
It's really perfectly clear to me what's going on, as someone who lives very far away from this whole controversy: When the NIMBYs describe the people they're worried about as "sketchy", "transient", or "criminal", what they actually mean is "black".
95
#91, so you clean dog cages at the animal shelter, then?
96
Here's a "market rate" approach to problem solving in a "world class city" where the dollar per square foot is out of pace with earnings of much of the workforce. It's an "option" for some people who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to live in the city.

http://www.businessinsider.com/hong-kong…
97
I was somewhat surprised as your article actually flirted a bit with actual journalism., but then schlepped into a semi-dignified rant.
Microhousing can be a viable and cool housing option, but it's clear the city doesn't know what the hell it is doing.
People are understandably a little jumpy as most of the input on our "sustainable" growth comes from those who are positioned to profit from it.
Yes, there are obnoxious folks and cranks and comments that are disrespectful.
Aren't there always.
The NIMBY trash talk is always entertaining. I'm sure many of you at Seattle's only newspaper are anti coal trains, drones, etc. Strictly speaking these Are NIMBY positions. As was protecting the precious Bauhaus.
There are no guarantees, but it's always good for a neighborhood to engage with a developers. The statement that the loop has been handled and taken care of by the city is naive, to say the least.
I suggest you spend some some with a responsible representative of the "loyal opposition " - you may learn something. (such as Mr. Bradburd)
As the power shifts from small property owners to very large ones, your accusation of classism is laughable.
But try again, you're getting closer.
Thanks

98
@87 Increasing construction costs decreases the number of projects that can be profitably built. If projects are cheap but have high profits, every developer in town will jump into the business until rents drop to a level that profits disappear. If projects are expensive and have low profits, few if any will build.

This is just as true for aPodment building as for any other business.
99
The thread running through this piece where Dominic paints anyone who has a position other than his pro-crackerbox optimism as a hysterical nitwit who's afraid of fluoridated water and "those people" living next door is silly and unfortunate (weird shit at the printer notwithstanding - wow). So why the muckraking for developers' benefit for these things? Weren't developers the jerks when they tore down the Bus Stop, Kincora's, and Man Ray block to put in that unfortunate lego-like condopartment on Pine? That block was not exactly the picture of "density", but it was pretty important to the community. That was a while ago.

The Death of Pike/Pine - November 30, 2006
http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Conte…

Look, it's not just stereotyped NIMBY caricatures who are not liking the directions some developments are taking in the core neighborhoods. Reasonable people who don't have a problem with living in smaller urban pads (that's why they live where they do) can and do have a problem with building things carelessly and too quickly.

For plenty of people (understandably not profiled due to their lack of irrational flair) who choose to live and work in the core of the city for all the opportunities it offers, being skeptical of "could-be-a-good-idea-if-it's-done-right-and-total-shit-if-it's-not" projects isn't NIMBYism. It's just not being a sucker for a bunch of marketing bullshit from builders who don't live in or near their own creations. These projects in particular need to be evaluated much more carefully than they have been.

The naive pro-density uber-alles arguments seem to assume that more housing inventory should mean more affordable housing. That's a demonstrated fail. More units get built because the demand is already high and continues to increase. More demand fuels higher prices. Repeat cycle. The same thing will happen to the microapartments that happens with studio apartments and all other property rentals. This year's $850 unit will be $1200 in a few short years.

Sure, small apartment units can and should be built, (so should larger affordable units for families for that matter). They should not be pimped with the misguided idea that they are magically solving a rental pricing problem. They aren't. They are an alternative product, even a more expensive product as honestly pointed out. Seattle has economic disparity that won't be solved by smaller places, even if the city starts zoning for bunkbeds hourly. These tiny rooms are not going to bring the funky vibrancy back to full tilt, if anything they'll compound the economic pressure for floorspace in high demand locations. Seattle's not the only place this is happening, it doesn't seem like we can unring the bell.
100
Just make it very strict to live there. Problem more or less solved. And don't try to use the "street parking" argument to validate objections to these things. What area in Seattle doesn't have on street parking problems other than Magnolia?
101
NIMBYs tend to be racist,classist,and have a false sense of both accomplishment and entitlement:did they ever miss a meal as a child? ----- http://www.tenantsunion.org RENT CONTROL IS LONG OVERDUE!!!(If all else fails,then squat!!! (N) )