A King County Superior Court judge’s decision on a Capitol Hill microhousing project has brought permitting for the housing type to a halt across Seattle. In a statement, the Department of Planning and Development said that the judge’s ruling that rooms with “private bathrooms and food preparation areas” inside a planned congregate-style 49-bedroom building at 741 Harvard Ave E near Aloha should count as living units has caused it to “re-examine” other “similar projects” under review around Seattle.
“DPD has concluded that the individual rooms within any proposed development having an identical or substantially similar arrangement also must be regulated as separate dwelling units,” the DPD statement reads.
A DPD spokesperson said 21 Seattle projects already in the planning process were notified of the change in requirements.
CHS reported in August on the judge’s decision to side with a group of neighbors in the lawsuit against the City of Seattle and force the 741 Harvard Ave E project into design review based on the new unit count.
Lawyers representing the developers behind the microhousing project at the center of the case have filed an appeal. City Council land use committee chair Mike O’Brien and the City Attorney’s office had been quiet on whether the city would offer a legal challenge to the decision against it and a company run by developer Footprint Investments.
Beyond the appeal, the developer is hedging its bets just in case it does have to submit the project for review. A filing with DPD indicates the company has begun planning its “early design guidance” meeting with the city — just in case.
The case continues as Seattle moves toward approving updated regulations for microhousing that would continue to allow the most densely-packed type of congregate apartment buildings to still be built in core areas of Central Seattle around Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District as well as areas like the University District.
It also appears that judge’s decision dovetails with the new microhousing regulations that will be voted on in October. Those include a new rule that aPodment-style units must have two separate sinks — one in the kitchen space, one in the bathroom. Make sure to wash your hands.