An appeal hearing brought by community groups with a Capitol Hill core seeking to toss out a Seattle Department of Planning and Development decision on proposed microhousing rules will continue on Thursday.
Tuesday, representatives for the community groups bringing the appeal and the DPD squared off for initial procedural jostling, opening statements — and some interesting positioning in front of Seattle’s Hearing Examiner, Anne Watanabe.
Neighborhood activist Chris Leman said he attributes two recent City Light blackouts — including one Monday night that knocked out power to thousands on Capitol Hill for 45 minutes and another 600 or so north on the Hill and in Eastlake for several hours — to “development in our area” in an aside as he questioned the appeal’s first witness from DPD. His remarks were deemed inappropriate and struck from the official record but were illustrative of the appellants’ position: New microhousing rules — ostensibly opening the door to new microhousing projects — should not be sent to the City Council for approval until a more thorough environmental review of the impact to Seattle’s neighborhoods is completed.
In November, CHS first reported on the appeal against DPD’s “determination of non-significance” for the newly proposed rules which would include definitions for microhousing and tantamount legislative acceptance for the building type which critics say smashes city dwellers into cramped, dorm-style living quarters that are potentially dangerous and overburden surrounding resources like parking and utilities. While not exactly cheap on a $/square-foot basis, the aPodment-style buildings do provide price-points for living units mostly unheard of in the Hill’s newer construction.
The appeal contends the DPD’s determination of non-significance for the proposed microhousing regulation did not follow appropriate standards:
While Tuesday’s hearing was a mostly dry and procedure-focused affair — at one point, an incredulous TV anchor asked one of the appellants if the hearing was really going to last more than one day — Leman told CHS Thursday’s session would likely be a more interesting affair as he planned to bring pointed questions to officials about fire safety in the microhousing style developments.
A decision in the appeal will be announced within two weeks of the end of the hearing. The Examiner has already dismissed several portions of the appeal (PDF) including a demand that would have halted issuance of permits on any new microhousing projects.