A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods

 

City conducting environmental review process for changing rules for building accessory dwelling units in single-family zones

October 6th, 2017 by Doree

The City of Seattle is conducting an environmental review process to study possible effects of changing rules for building accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in single-family zones.

ADUs include backyard cottages, known as Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs), and in-law apartments, known as Attached Accessory Dwelling Units (AADUs). The first phase of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process is to determine the scope of the study, and we want your input on what to consider and analyze as we explore allowing more ADUs in Seattle’s neighborhoods.

ADUs are small, secondary dwelling units inside, attached to, or in the rear yard of a single-family house. The City’s proposal involves allowing both an in-law apartment and a backyard cottage on the same lot, removing the existing off-street parking and owner-occupancy requirements, and changing some development standards that regulate the size and location of backyard cottages. Based on a decision from the City’s Hearing Examiner in December 2016, we’re preparing an EIS to review the potential environmental impacts of this proposal.

During the scoping phase, you can help us determine the alternatives we’ll study, potential environmental impacts to consider, and possible measures to avoid or reduce the effects of the proposal. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. on November 1, 2017.

You can comment online; by email to ADUEIS@seattle.gov; by mail to Aly Pennucci, Council Central Staff, PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025; or in person at one of two public meetings, including from 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at Hale’s Ales (in the Palladium), 4301 Leary Way NW.

Comments Off on City conducting environmental review process for changing rules for building accessory dwelling units in single-family zonesTags: , , , ,

City Councilmember O’Brien releases proposal to make it easier to build backyard cottages

May 19th, 2016 by Doree

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien (District 6, NW Seattle) released a proposal today that would make it easier for homeowners to build backyard cottages.

Councilmember O’Brien’s bill makes a series of changes to the existing backyard cottage and mother-in-law unit building code, including:

  • Allowing both a backyard cottage and mother-in-law unit on the same lot, which provides additional housing options while maintaining the character and appearance of the property.
  • Increasing the height limit for backyard cottages by 1-2 feet, depending on lot width, which would allow enough livable space to make two-bedroom units more feasible. Setback requirements from property edges would not change.
  • Removing the requirement for owners to include an off-street parking space for backyard cottages or mother-in-law unit. Currently, this requirement often requires removal of green space on the property. Feedback found the parking requirement was prohibitive in creating new backyard cottages, as additional parking spaces were either unnecessary or unable to fit on the lot. For single-family lots outside urban villages or urban centers, the one required off-street parking space for a single-family house requirement will still apply.
  • If a backyard cottage is only one-story, its floor area may cover up to 60% of the rear yard (currently 40%), creating a large enough livable space for those unable to use stairs. Existing setback requirements from the lot edge would not change.
  • Requiring that the property owner live on-site for at least one year after a backyard cottage or mother-in-law unit is created, rather than the current requirement that the owner live on-site at least 6 months out of every year in perpetuity. The requirement prevents speculative developers from acquiring property and building backyard cottages that don’t fit the character of the neighborhood, while allowing the owner future flexibility for those who don’t want, or are unable to continue living on-site.
  • Allowing backyard cottages on lots 3,200 square feet or greater in area (currently 4,000 square feet), which would make approximately 7,300 additional parcels eligible to provide this additional housing option.
  • Increasing the maximum gross floor area of a backyard cottage to 1,000 square feet (currently 800 square feet), which would provide more livable area and increase the likelihood of two-bedroom backyard cottages to better serve families with children.
  • If a backyard cottage is built above a garage, the garage square footage will no longer count toward the maximum floor area, which often results in an unreasonably small living space.

The city’s Office of Planning & Community Development released its SEPA determination of non-significance today. The public can comment on the proposal through June 2 by emailing Nick Welch at nicolas.welch@seattle.gov, or by mail at City of Seattle, OPCD, Attn: Nick Welch, PO Box 34019, Seattle WA 98124-4019.

The proposal is scheduled for consideration in the Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning Committee in July.

Comments Off on City Councilmember O’Brien releases proposal to make it easier to build backyard cottagesTags: , , ,

Take Phinney Ridge Community Council survey on city’s proposed changes to backyard cottages rules

February 17th, 2016 by Doree

The Phinney Ridge Community Council is looking for neighborhood input on the City’s proposals for zoning changes that would encourage more backyard cottages – or Detached Accessory Dwelling Units — in single family zones. The City has proposed the changes to help deal with density and growth.

You can take the short survey here.

With some exceptions, backyard cottages are currently allowed on all single-family lots of at least 4,000 square feet. This means that about 75,000 of the City’s 124,000 single-family lots are eligible for backyard cottages. Current law subjects backyard cottages to a number of restrictions. These include requirements in effect now:

  • the property owner live on site at least six months of the year
  • provide off-street parking for the cottage
  • a prohibition against having a backyard cottage and “in-law” apartment on the same property
  • limits on the height and size of backyard cottages
  • prohibits cottage entrances from facing abutting property

Comments Off on Take Phinney Ridge Community Council survey on city’s proposed changes to backyard cottages rulesTags: , , , ,

Greenwood Community Council meets tonight to discuss backyard cottages, transportation, land use, urban villages

January 19th, 2016 by Doree

The Greenwood Community Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight (Tuesday) at the Greenwood Library, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N. This open board meeting will cover a number of topics, with time for attendees to speak about any neighborhood issue they want the council to follow.

On the agenda are discussions about neighborhood transportation, land use, possible expansion of the Aurora-Licton Springs urban village, and engaging neighbors in discussing the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda and its Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

The council also will vote on a proposed letter to City Councilmember Mike O’Brien about pending legislation on backyard cottages. See the draft letter here, and give your input at the meeting.

Comments Off on Greenwood Community Council meets tonight to discuss backyard cottages, transportation, land use, urban villagesTags: , , , , ,