Seattle housing notes: Last chance to comment on plan for more backyard cottages, MHA upzoning battle begins

While we are looking at Seattle’s built environment this morning, here are a few other items of note going on in the city:

  • Backyard cottages milestone: Today — 6/25/18 — is the final day to comment on Seattle’s plan to allow more backyard cottages in neighborhoods across the city. As CHS has reported, “accessory dwelling units” are an effective way to put more of Seattle’s buildable land to use creating homes new neighbors. The city has studied three options:
    + Alternative 1: no action; current rules maintained.
    + Alternative 2: one in-law apartment and one backyard cottage allowed on the same lot; parking no longer required for ADUs; the homeowner may live elsewhere.
    + Alternative 3: two ADUs allowed per lot (either two in-law apartments or one apartment and one cottage); an additional parking space is required only if two ADUs are built.

    Advocates for more housing — and lower housing costs — are calling for help in supporting Alternative 2 “as it removes the owner occupancy and parking requirements from backyard cottage construction, and generally makes it easier for homeowners to add additional units to their property.” The city will issue its final Environmental Impact Statement on the ADU plan later this year before it will go to the City Council. You can read more about the process here.

  • Mandatory Housing Affordability battle: Seattle’s plan for Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning in its densest neighborhoods goes in front of the Hearing Examiner beginning Monday as a coalition of neighborhood groups has challenged the proposal. CHS reported here on the possible changes that would come to Capitol Hill zoning and the neighborhood’s relatively strong support for the plan — especially in comparison to some of the backlash that has emerged in other parts of the city.The proposed zoning changes for Capitol Hill and the Central District include transitioning Broadway from around Cal Anderson Park all the way north to Roy to 75-foot height limits and “neighborhood commercial” zoning that would allow seven-story buildings with commercial use throughout. Some of the bigger changes would also come around the Miller Community Center. In the Central District, most proposed changes are focused on the area around Madison and 23rd with smaller areas around 23rd and Union and 23rd and Jackson where surgical upzoning has already been approved.There has been considerable opposition to the planned changes in some corners of the city though Capitol Hill’s community groups have mostly been supportive of the changes. The Miller Park Neighbors have not. The Miller Park YAY-bors? All for it. The proposals, meanwhile, will now face litigation from the coalition of 26 neighborhood groups. While the Hearing Examiner’s decision will be the last step in the city’s process, a court battle could follow.
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