In a decision released earlier this week, the Hearing Examiner has sided with the Department of Planning and Development’s decision to move forward proposed legislation to further regulate microhousing in Seattle.
CHS reported on the hearing’s two days of testimony in January as Capitol Hill land use activist Dennis Saxman and neighborhood activist Chris Leman took their fight against microhousing into the appeal process in an attempt to overturn a DPD decision to sign off on the proposed regulatory legislation – Does microhousing cause blackouts? Slow growth groups take cause to Seattle Hearing Examiner
Their argument: The intensive development will overwhelm Seattle’s environmental and civic resources and new legislation proposed to further regulate the housing would open the floodgates for aPodment-type developers.
“The evidence fails to show that the proposed legislation would spur new development of micro-housing or congregate residences, compared with what occurs under existing regulation of micro-housing,” the Examiner Anne Watanabe wrote in deciding against Saxman and Leman. “Clearly, the Appellants fear that this will occur, but the record does not demonstrate that this impact would likely occur.”
DPD documents submitted as part of the hearing showed that about 10% of all living units permitted or under construction were microhousing — a number DPD contends is likely to stay steady or drop when if the new regulations the appellants were fighting against are approved:
DPD was also able to show that the arguments Leman presented regarding fire danger for microhousing development were groundless:
While the defeat of a slow-growth effort might please the city’s urbanists, the decision is a double-edged sword as it moves the probable regulation of the housing type back onto City Hall’s agenda. The Hearing Examiner’s decision places the proposed microhousing legislation on track for the City Council to take up later this year. In addition to defining exactly what “microhousing” means, the legislation includes better triggers for environmental and design reviews for the projects and updated development standards to address issues around quality of life for those living in — and nearby — the congregate residences.
Meanwhile, developers in the area haven’t been waiting around. Permitting is underway for a new project from aPodments developer Calhoun Properties on an empty lot near 23rd and E Madison. Down near 14th and Yesler, there’s an even more ambitious project. Weighing in at 159 rooms, the five-story structure will “contain” four “congregate residences” plus two live-work units. The project also includes 1,147 square feet of retail space plus storage for 42 bicycles.