From one single-family homeowner to another, you’re right: Accessory Dwelling Units are a plague destroying everything that makes Seattle great. I’ve watched with admiration from across town as you’ve filed frivolous lawsuit after lawsuit against the nefarious densinistas on city council trying to weasel a backdoor, backyard upzone through our precious bungalow enclaves. Even when that socialist rag The Economist called out your obstructionism, I had your back. Truly your mastery of our litigious culture is a sight to behold as you look down upon City Hall from your city upon a hill in Queen Anne!
Despite your valiant efforts, today the council is likely to advance final ADU legislation out of committee after four long years of fighting the good fight—and I expect the lame duck council will pass the legislation by July 1. We may be losing the war to Mike O’Brien and his cronies, but we’ve certainly won a few battles along the way. And for that, I salute you.
I’ve watched with disgust as architects and homebuilders have tried to gussy up accessory dwelling units with cutesy names like “backyard cottages” and “mother-in-law suites.” I prefer “hobbit sheds” and “basement dungeons.” These places are simply not fit for human habitation and have no place in our city. If you can’t afford a four-bedroom house, there are plenty of tent encampments where you’ll fit right in.
Over the last year, I’ve watched one of these monstrosities sprout in a backyard three doors down. At first, I was hoping the owner was turning a thicket of blackberry brambles and overgrown weeds into a swimming pool or tennis court—you know, something that would add value to our neighborhood. But as I peered over the fence with my spyglass, I discovered with horror that construction crews were pouring a foundation not for a natatorium, but something they were calling a “house.” Despicable.
On Saturday, the bulldozing bullies at the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects hosted an ADU Tour across Seattle. I leapt at the chance to see what inhumane conditions the residents of this new prison cell were enduring. It confirmed all of our worst fears about the ADU tsunami set to be unleashed upon our fair city.
Inside, I learned these victims of a ruthless, money-grubbing landlord were four college students. They had three bedrooms and two bathrooms among them. That meant, yes, two of them were sharing the same bedroom. Have we stooped so low as to ask college students to share a room in order to save money? Don’t they know better? Young scholar, I urge you to come to your senses and take on more crushing student loan debt so that you might have a private bedroom for your nocturnal escapades.
I confess that I was not aware of their presence on the block. They must study hard and walk to the nearby university, as I have not noticed any less street parking on our block of stately homes. But I am sure any day one of these misguided youths will inherit daddy’s car and start double-parking willy nilly. The worst has yet to come.
Maddeningly, both the home in the front and the hobbit shed in the back are rentals. Yes, the dreaded ‘r’ word. We both know what scum renters are. I was shocked to learn in 2016 that our beloved city of homeowners was inching its way toward becoming majority renter. The barbarians are at the gates, my friend.
Last year at our block party, I made the grave mistake of inviting the residents of a frontyard house—the only acceptable place for a house, of course—that I was unaware was inhabited by renters. They showed up at our streetside soirée one August evening and immediately cheapened our lovely affair. One was a college student working a summer internship at one of those new-fangled companies that has poisoned the Seattle well with growth. It started with a ‘B.’ I believe it was called Bowing? In any case, he arrived with a case of Rainier beer. Doesn’t he know we only drink Oregon pinot noir on this block? The horror, the horror!
With yet another batch of renting roaches infesting our once beloved street, I am afraid this year’s block party will be an even uglier affair. Once the ADUs flood your regal thoroughfare, I advise you to do as I will: stay inside, draw the curtains, and watch reruns of the 1962 Seafair hydrofoil races on VHS. Those were the good old days.
Yours in NIMBY Solidarity,
A Proud Homeowner