Council Approves Backyard Cottages Law, Construction Expected on Thousands of New Units

Comments

1

This is definitely a step in the right direction. It is amazing how long it takes Seattle to take a tiny step in the right direction, even in the midst of a housing crisis. As Mr. Black pointed out, other areas -- many of which have nowhere near our problems when it comes to housing affordability -- are way ahead of us. Oh well. Hopefully this will help, and we can improve upon it.

2

Drop, meet bucket.

3

@2 Thanks for the laugh

4

It's not a serious effort. It's a projected 440 dwellings a year. Or less than a high density apartment complex. You'd need to add that many units a day to offset and keep up with demand.

5

2400 units at best predicted over 10 years. This was never going to address housing. The way tp address the housing crisis is, as they say, thoroughly known. You stop tearing it all down.

6

This is a good start. Mostly because it breaks the ban on rental units in single-family neighborhoods. It also does it without putting in huge apartment buildings everywhere, which should keep some of the whining down. However, it is easily foreseeable that there are going to be issues about parking. I would guess that there is going to be a backlash over that, which may end up making it harder to add more density in the future.

And the McMansion law is long overdue. The giant boxes that are going up are the worst of all worlds (they trash the character of a neighborhood, without adding any housing at all).

7

@6: “However, it is easily foreseeable that there are going to be issues about parking.”

Our Council solved that issue forever when they waived the parking requirement, silly! (Just like they Saved The Showbox.)

8

Go fuck yourself O'Brien. You've done enough damage to our city already. Why don't you leave gracefully and do something you're good at, like make kimchi.

9

More roofs, less trees.

10

@9

Seattle area architect here. Your scenario is unlikely, as seattle also has codes which state that only 35% of any single family lot can be covered by buildings, as well as rules that go to great pains to protect any significant trees that are near where construction is being done and to replace elsewhere any that are removed. The amount of roof should remain the same because it has to, the only difference will be that up to 3 families can live under this amount of roof rather than just one. Fear, meet Facts, and be silent.

11

@10- there seems to have been unenthusiastic enforcement of the 35% rule. The enormous house across from me must cover 75% of the lot. Was there a way to buy one's way out of this rule?

12

@11 - Lots under 5,000 sf are allowed 15%+1000sf of coverage, so if your neighbor's lot is small or actually zoned for low density multifamily, there may be ways to cover more of the lot with roof, though these scenarios have been rare in my experience. When the 35% rule applies (on all but the smallest lots), it has been stringently enforced. Fewer of these enormous houses should be going up now though.

Fears of old houses being torn down and replaced by 3 unit apartments are also inflated, as every single ADU and DADU I've helped get a permit for (at least a dozen) has been built in an existing basement or added to an existing garage as a second story. These can both be done without increasing roof area or chopping down trees, and are nearly always designed to match the character of the existing house.

13

@8: Hey — this year is O’Brien’s last chance to screw over his constituency, the citizens who told him to just go away and never return. He’s going to make their lives as miserable as he possibly can, for as long as he possibly can, with the fig leaf of Doing Something about the problems (street traffic, in this case) his policies will actually (and by design) worsen.

14

10 Your are full of shit. There is no way single family lots are limited to 35% of the land. I can look out my window and see violations of your supposed law everywhere in my Greenlake neighborhood. And trees? You can chop down anything you want in this city. On my block two years ago a 150 year old cedar tree was bulldozed - and a tiny twig of a tree was planted for replacement. A complete joke.

15

They sell out their constituents and call it “progress” or “political will”.
All their actions really are is self-centered, striving ego, and claiming “intuitive knowledge” about something that they obviously know nothing about... and then lying to the public using half-truths and racist name-calling rather than responding to, and actually answering genuine concerns. The intelligence was cooked from the get go. There has been little attempt to identify and mitigate potential adverse impacts.
Kiss affordable family housing in Seattle goodbye. We could have implemented something truly effective, but MOB and his cronies elected to seek resume checkpoints on the way out the revolving door (Johnson has already cashed in with a job lobbying for the NHL) rather than helping the city they claim to love. Ironic that the so-called progressive City Council resembles more the ring-kissing Trump Cabinet. Representative government is DEAD, replaced by corporate-financed social media falsity posing as information. Why all the lies and half-truths if this is so great for the City?

16

So, now we sit back and wait to see if Seattle's single family homeowners will solve homelessness by building low income housing on their own initiative and at their own expense? And we will find out whether that has worked in, what, 10-20 years?

What a ridiculous plan.

17

If I were to build a 1,000 sqft DADU on my lot, I certainly wouldn't be thinking about putting it on the market as low income housing. I'd charge market rate and increase the rent as often as I could. If I could charge $2,000/month for a 1br or studio apartment in backyard, I would do that in a heartbeat. I don't see this impacting housing costs improving the overall housing situation. However what it does do is put the first crack in single family zoning laws. Change them once, why not change them again and again. I like Portland's new laws. I want to build a 4 plex.... and charge market rent.

18

If the Council were serious about helping homeowners and discouraging speculators, they would have passed a separate program for in-law apartments, including:
--omitting the permitting fee, as long as it's within the existing building
--eliminating the (very expensive) requirement for separate electrical service for a second unit within an existing house
--naming a permitting staffer to be "Navigator" for homeowners, since it's lengthy and confusing and each homeowner only does it once
--giving the Navigator a goal of 250 units a year and doing community outreach
--providing low-interest loans to homeowners for in-law apartments in exchange for setting the rent at 80% of market-rate and limiting increase to 5% per year: Viola! legal rent control

19

But won't this allow the Moocher/Freeloader 'Class' to infiltrate Exclusive Neighborhoods, and thereby getting for their progeny a precious leg-up through Much Better Schools?!

Why must we handout Bootstraps to the bootless?
How can they even Deserve let alone Appreciate such finery?

I can already taste the Uppitiness.

20

this is excellent and will help us meet the increased population for

(checks figures)

about six weeks

21

The city estimates the law will bring in more than 4,400 backyard units over the next 10 years, an increase advocates hope will lower Seattle's housing costs.

Seattle's own report issued several years ago on the subject found that over 60% of people constructing units do so for their own personal reasons - housing a family member/studio space. Also the average cost of construction was $50K (might be higher now). If this holds, then that makes about 1760 rental units in 10 years (subtracting 60%) - 176 brand new units a year - costing over $50K each. And we all know how affordable new construction is.

22

I have a friend who turned her detached garage into a permitted "art studio" and now rents it out for big bucks by the night on AirBNB. No idea if it is legal, but she is doing it anyway. I would hate having transient strangers in my back yard or next door, but hey, whatever floats your boat Seattle.

23

I have this sneaking suspicion that not so reputable contractors will hit low income/older home owners, that are big squeezed to death by property tax, into deals that will make them co-owners.

24

“I believe this will be an opportunity to invite so many people into some of our most exclusive neighborhoods”

I don't think there's going to be many ADU's built in Laurelhurst, Mt. Baker, Broadmoor, Seward Park, North Admiral, etc....