Rasmussen Proposes New Regulations for aPodments
City council member Tom Rasmussen lays out a framework for new regulations on aPodments, or micro-apartments.
City Council member Tom Rasmussen, who initially suggested imposing a moratorium on microhousing, or aPodments—multistory buildings in which several tiny housing units surround a communal kitchen—has sent the city's Department of Planning and Development a memo laying out a framework for regulations he wants DPD to propose on microhousing, plus a list of amendments council members could propose once DPD sends the legislation down to the council.
The memo, which PubliCola obtained from Rasmussen's office, calls for a proposal that, "at a minimum," will create a new definition for "microhousing," new design review requirements that would apply specifically to microhousing, and a new method for counting "dwelling units" in microhousing complexes. Currently, microhousing is usually not subject to design review because each floor makes up only one "dwelling unit" under existing zoning rules, one reason they're controversial among some activists who say they deserve a say in what kind of developments are built in their neighborhoods).
(Design review, it should be noted, is only about the design of a building; neighbors who don't want apartments next to their single-story house won't have any new recourse to stop microhousing under design review, because the buildings are already allowed in the low-rise zones where they're being built.)
Rasmussen also lays out a number of potential amendments council members could propose, and asks for DPD's input and recommendations. Among them: A minimum square foot size for microapartment bedrooms (an odd request, since the Seattle Building Code already regulates minimum room sizes); mandatory private bathrooms; a one-person-per-unit occupancy limit; and new limits stipulating where microhousing can be built.
The memo also asks DPD to look at things like how much trash storage should be required at microhousing (editorializing here: Based on my experience living in apartments in Seattle, they should be focusing more on enforcing the existing rules), whether microhousing will force the city to build more parks under its open space requirements; and, hilariously, whether each microhousing unit should be required to have a bathroom sink in addition to the sink in the kitchenette.
The council hopes to get legislation from DPD by later this summer, and hold a full council vote by the end of the year.