Council Committee to Discuss What to Do About "Small-Lot" Houses
The city council's planning committee gears up to discuss how the city should regulate the development of tall, skinny houses on small lots.
At tomorrow morning's 9:30 meeting at City Hall, the city's planning and land-use committee plans to discuss how the city should permanently regulate so-called "small-lot" development—small houses, generally tall, skinny, and modern, developed on so-called "substandard" lots (lots that were originally considered separate but were later effectively incorporated into adjacent parcels of land when the city adopted its first zoning code in 1957) next to existing single-family homes.
Last September, after a group of outspoken single-family neighborhood activists organized against these developments, which they called "megahouses" (in reality, the most controversial of these "megahouses," in Wallingford, is 1,400 square feet), the council passed emergency legislation placing a moratorium on substandard-lot houses.
Now the council is considering permanent legislation that would limit building heights on lots smaler than 3,200 square feet to 18 feet (plus a five-foot pitched roof); would allow new single-family houses on lots 2,000 square feet or larger as long as the lot is at least 80 percent the size of the average lot on a particular block; and would loosen restrictions on the minimum size of front lawns.
Roger Valdez, a member of Smart Growth Seattle—the developer-backed small-lot housing group—says his group is "basically fine" with the new version of the legislation, they'd like to see some tweaks to give developers more flexibility, such as increasing the maximum building height from 18 feet to 22.
Another issue that's heading up in the development world: So-called aPodments, which some council members have hinted they'd like to subject to a similar moratorium. Council land-use chair Richard Conlin, who has not returned a call for comment, told PubliCola last week that he supported the small, affordable apartments, calling them "density in places that are zoned for density."