These anti-aPodment signs appeared suddenly just off 15th Ave E this summer. The Reasonable Density Seattle group has since claimed responsibility.
The Capitol Hill Community Council will consider a resolution at tonight’s October meeting that will call for an emergency moratorium on “apodments or micro housing in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood, or anywhere else in the City.” The full text of the resolution is below. UPDATE: An updated version of the resolution has been added.
The community group is asking the City Council to put a stop to the developments that circumvent Seattle’s design review and environmental review processes until zoning laws and definitions are shored up to close the loophole.
The loophole as we’ve explained it in the past:
Seattle’s zoning restrictions in residential areas are based on the number of dwelling units — unit occupancy and building size aren’t considered. The loophole has allowed developers to bypass the Design Review Board and environmental review as these buildings technically come under the dwelling unit threshold for many residential zones on Capitol Hill.
For instance, in lowrise, multifamily areas, design and environmental reviews are triggered for building proposals larger than 8 units (the residential swath from 10th to 15th between Denny and Roy is almost entirely zoned LR3). In areas zoned mid-rise, review boards are triggered at 20-unit proposals (Most of Capitol Hill west of Harvard, aside from Olive and Denny corridors, is MR or LR3). Environmental review is also triggered in LR3 and MR zones for 30-unit proposals within urban centers or station areas.
There’s no telling what actions the city will take if the community council resolution is approved. In September, the Seattle City Council approved a moratorium on “tall skinny” construction that was taking advantage of loopholes allowing multistory construction on relatively small residential lots. Council president Sally Clark told CHS this summer that the first action for the Department of Planning and Development may be to simply document how many of the loophole microapartment projects exist.
In September, CHS mapped 15 of the projects in the Capitol Hill area alone. We know a few more have come along since and will be updating our map soon. Tiny and available at a price point that may not make them a bargain but definitely makes them unique, we also took you on a brief tour of one aPodment unit to show you what life looks like inside.
The microapartment push-back is part of a new wave of activism on the Hill that differs from anti-development activity of the past. Many community efforts involve re-shaping development — not bringing it to a halt. The anti-aPodment moratorium would be a little more old school. More may be on the way. A plank of the Reasonable Density Seattle group’s efforts to curtail area development is reportedly also on the minds of the Capitol Hill Community Council. Whether it has any luck pushing back on lowrise height zoning across the Hill will remain to be seen.