“The purpose of the meeting, is a fact finding meeting,” City Council member Tom Rasmussen said Thursday to kick off a “brown bag” lunchtime forum to discuss microhousing development in Seattle. Here’s the facts: most of the citizens who showed up in the middle of the work day to talk about aPodments, don’t like microhousing — “out of scale,” “too many,” “parking” — and many of those people live right here on Capitol Hill.
“The proliferation of these projects, in my neighborhood, Capitol Hill, is intense,” resident Carl Winter said during the public comments portion of Thursday’s session following a presentation by city staff about what their departments already have in the works to better regulate the dorm-style developments. We’ve embedded the presentation as well as the more-useful memo from city staff, below. If you also want to see the microhousing criticism — and a few defenders — first-hand, the Seattle Channel video is there, too. But we’re warning you — anger and frustration abounds if maybe falling a little short of the angry mobs with “pitchforks” Publicola promises.
It’s not clear if the Rasmussen-led discussion will be a precursor to a possible push for a moratorium on these developments that he told CHS he was considering.
Rasmussen said he has heard from people and groups all over the city but that the calls for action from Capitol Hill were especially strong. Winter and others involved with groups like Reasonable Density Seattle — we looked at the group’s efforts last year — took Thursday’s opportunity to make their case that the city is not acting quickly enough to better regulate the projects which skirt the city’s review processes for multi-unit developments by categorizing the buildings as boarding houses.
“I don’t care who lives in these places…the process is being circumvented,” one speaker said.
The buildings are “clearly college dormitories” another speaker complained.
Not every speaker was a critic. A developer of one microhousing project spoke in favor of the developments and pleaded with the council members who attended the hearing not to further slow the process for independent developers like himself.
Meanwhile, a representative from Calhoun Properties, arguably the largest, most significant developer of microhousing in the city and owner of the aPodment brand took the microphone and tried to illustrate that tenants of his buildings are worthy, working, upstanding citizens. Calhoun partner Dirk Mulhair only sounded a little silly when he tried to slip in some marketing speak and call the residents ‘podners.” The ensuing chuckles were a rare moment of levity in what was otherwise a session full of much frowning.