Maybe it’s a sign of fatigue in people’s interest level after years of debate — CHS’s first major examination of aPodment-related development came way back in the summer of 2012 — but this epic Politico examination of Seattle’s microhousing is worthy of more attention on Capitol Hill.
For one, you’ll learn more about the people behind the debate…
Like Jim Potter:
The roots of micro-housing in Seattle can be traced to a single developer named Jim Potter. At 6 foot 6, he was the movement’s Johnny Appleseed, an imposing presence with a booming voice, an aggressive businessman who owned properties up and down the state of Washington. But his true claim to fame, at least in the Seattle real estate world, was his compulsive study of the city’s zoning code.
Or Bill Bradburd:
“There’s nothing wrong with a boarding house,” protests Bradburd, a former Silicon Valley engineer turned artist who moved to Seattle four years ago and became a stay-at-home father and fulltime activist. “I just don’t think they belong in a low-rise zone where someone has invested half a million in a townhouse and then 56 people move in next door.”
And Roger Valdez:
There’s no question that the new restrictions will jack up the rent, according to Roger Valdez, speaking on behalf of Seattle’s micro-unit developers. Valdez is not a mere spokesman; he is a true believer who lives what he preaches—in a 209-square-foot luxury micro-unit featuring a loft, a balcony and a drop-dead view of the Seattle skyline. The price: $1,350.
And you’ll learn some history:
As recently as the early 1970s, Seattle counted more than 10,000 boarding rooms among its housing stock, most occupied by young men working in the city’s canning, fishing and metal extraction industries. After a series of fires, including a 1970 arson that killed 20 residents, the city effectively closed its boarding houses by regulating them out of existence.
And some context:
Seattle proved an ideal pioneer of micro-housing for a confluence of reasons: a permissive city code; a burgeoning population of millennials; a real estate boom fueled by the incursion of Amazon and other tech giants; and, not least, a visionary developer who early on discerned the pieces of this puzzle and put them all together.
But mostly, you’ll want to read it because it gets you ready for what comes next. The microhousing debate, innovation, and city-level political intrigue aren’t over in Seattle’s Inner City neighborhoods. The City Council supposedly left room for the “old school” densest type of microhousing to still be built on parts of Capitol Hill and in areas of the Central District and E Madison. We’ll be watching to see how it plays out.