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How big is too big? What’s your take on huge houses?

Mike tells us he was surprised that a new house being built on North 73rd Street could fit Seattle Department of Planning and Development guidelines. He felt the house was over-sized for the lot and completely overshadowed the neighboring properties.


So he wrote to the mayor and DPD. Here’s the response from DPD Director Diane M. Sugimura:

The new house:
– 3,763 square foot house on a 5,678 sf lot
– Zoning for the site SF 5000 or 5,000 sf lots; therefore, this lot is larger than the standard lot
– Standard height for Single Family zones is 30’ with an additional 5’ for a pitched roof (except for undersized lots); this allows a three story structure. These standards have been in place since at least pre-1980, probably back as far as 1957.
– The two lots on either side of this development are undersized lots: lot 346 is about a third smaller than lot 352, and the lot to the other side of the house (356) is even smaller

I certainly understand your concern when you saw the new construction. The new house is clearly large in comparison to the houses on either side, both of which were built on undersized lots. The code allows for a mix of housing sizes, which help meet the needs of different types and sizes of households who might want to live in Seattle. The height limit is based on the zoning designation of the property; the footprint/scale of house , such as width and depth and amount of lot coverage, is also dependent on lot size. The larger the lot, the larger the structure allowed.

This may not be most sustainable type of living due to the size of the house, however, this house does have to meet current codes such as the Energy Code. When the adjacent houses were built, the City did not have an Energy Code. Our most sustainable residential development would generally be multifamily structures. This is also how we would achieve density. However, the majority of our city is zoned Single Family, which means only single family houses are allowed in these zones, plus the possibility of an accessory dwelling unit.

And in terms of property rights, owners do have an opportunity to build what is allowed by the codes.

So, what are your thoughts on this kind of development?