The Seattle Council is considering two amendments to the land use code today. The first will be before the full council at its 2pm meeting, and concerns small-lot housing. Public comment is allowed, and important details are still in play. The second is a meeting intended for public comment, before the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee, at 5:30pmBoth meetings are in Council Chambers in City Hall.

Small Lots. This is about clarifiying rules construction of new single-family homes in small lots in those neighborhoods, to end an existing moratorium. Mike O’Brien wrote a  good summary; as always, ex-STB writer Roger Valdez provides the perspective of someone trying to maximize the number of people that get to live in Seattle. Apparently Councilmember Tim Burgess is looking to amend the committee’s product in a way that would reduce housing supply, on the grounds that growth should occur (entirely?) in our urban villages ($). Construction on small lots seems like a fiscally positive way to create economical family housing by not forcing larger families to purchase a full-size lot. It is odd to worry that multifamily construction isn’t producing enough multi-bedroom units and then shut off an approach more likely to produce these. Moreover, people concerned with a wide range of socially positive outcomes should focus more on the net number of units a project creates and less on, well, everything else. Mr. Valdez’s post covers the details well. It appears that his group, Smart Growth Seattle, is content with the baseline legislation although it is by no means perfect.

Microhousing. Well-understood to be among the best examples of the market providing affordable housing without requiring any government spending or regulation, microhousing comes under fire for allowing relatively poor people to disturb the “character” of “established” neighborhoods, and because residents refuse to believe that people will choose to not own cars. The legislation would ban microhousing from single-family neighborhoods, impose costly design review on these projects, and introduce vehicle parking requirements. Once again, Roger Valdez says it all best, but this bill certainly indicates the Seattle City Council isn’t serious about creating affordable housing.

If only we could focus the energy, currently wasted on smiting Amazon employees and blocking Microsoft buses, to the points where the Seattle Council is actually strangling affordable housing by limiting it to the drip feed of publicly funded projects, we might be able to solve this problem.

56 Replies to “Two Land-Use Hearings Today”

  1. If you are in favor of microhousing at all, please try to make an appearance at the microhousing meeting. From what I am seeing in my inbox, it looks like a lot of anti-growth folks will be showing up to demand that they stop microhousing all together, calling it “unsafe” and a “menace to parking”.

    1. Is there any use in showing up late to these meetings?

      I would love to appear at the meeting as a clean-cut young professional who chooses not to own a car despite wherewithal and plenty of spots in the building garage, but I don’t think I can make it because the 550 will take too long to get across the lake (irony).

      1. These meetings tend to be geared towards people who don’t have jobs or who have cars (or both).

      2. Yes. Usually people who show up late are given an opportunity to speak.

  2. I cannot make it to the 5:30 meeting. Is there an official way to provide comments electronically? Or should I just email O’Brien?

    1. Emails may not matter this late, but it’s still in the PLUS committee. Sending email will likely still help before this gets to the full council.

  3. Here’s the real problem with Seattle and Washington state housing:

    http://cdn.geekwire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/techjobs-map.jpg

    Yes, a complete imbalance in where the high paying jobs are located.

    If we fixed that first, by encouraging employers to spread to the rest of the state, even to the other counties of western Washington, the housing problems would be alleviated.

    Charts: Here’s just how darn important the tech industry is to Washington state
    http://www.geekwire.com/2014/charts-heres-just-darn-important-tech-industry-washington-state/

    1. That, to me, reads a lot like “here’s how we encourage sprawl.” Even if the areas around employment nodes could be made compact and urbanized, what happens when I go to work for Employer A in one area but I get a better offer from employer R 30 miles south. Do I sell my townhouse, pull my kid out of school, and move, or do I take transit (note: This is, say, early 2017; Everett Link is just finishing up planning, and the vote on ST3 just passed in the previous November by a wide margin but construction won’t be finished for another several years), or do I just buy a car and drive?

      By encouraging close-in connections, building transit to suit that, and giving the “omg house out of character”-sayers the boot, we also alleviate the housing problem. Given that it will take several years to get light rail to these “nodal” areas–and that’s what most people want to ride–encouraging density and slowly pushing outward is the better balance.

      1. No, it’s not sprawl to also build Seattle-like conditions in other cities.

        Yes, those cities may expand growth slightly, the way Spokane is recently adding some acres for development, but we’re not talking about spreading out endlessly across all the wilderness.

        This results is a much more balanced and fair state, without having to overtax the longtimer and or shortchange the newcomer.

        However, the real estate developers who bet big on restricting everyone into a few parts of Seattle will have to settle for less.

      2. John,

        If “jobs” were interchangeable and “people” were interchangeable what you’re proposing would work just fine. That was the situation in America until the past thirty or so years: there were a wide assortment of jobs in every part of the country.

        But now that technology has grown painfully specialized, the practitioners of a particular advanced art flock together in cities as they did in the medieval guild cities. The truth is that the elite individuals who are creating the future deliver enormously more value than the ordinary worker. As a result they get paid much more than the ordinary worker and as a result they can afford to live in desirable, expensive places.

        Those desirable, expensive places are almost always situated in beautiful places in cities with advanced, plentiful arts and educational institutions. You simply can’t clone that in Centralia.

        You’re a smart guy and I think that you do have good intentions, but I guess you just do not understand the needs of gifted people. They have to have stimulation and the opportunity to create. They won’t find that in a river valley paved with warehouses.

      3. John: you’re missing something very fundamental. Employers LIKE to cluster close together. They will continue to do so.

        I can’t remember the technical term for this “industry clustering” phenomenon, whereby all the shoe factories settle in the same city and all the restaurants settle in the same couple of blocks, but it is a well-documented phenomenon which has been going on for *thousands of years*.

        You’re never, ever going to convince employers to sprawl out all over the state. They want to be close to the other employers in the same industry and related industries.

      4. I see that Anandakos is pointing out the same phenomenon.

        Microsoft is actually a little further away from Seattle than it should be, but with East Link it’ll be close enough. Amazon and Google and all the remaining “Washington State sofware companies” are going to cluster tight and close, within rail commuting distance of Seattle.

        It’s fundamentally the same reason Silicon Valley exists. It’s also why Pittsburgh had *multiple* steel companies, and why Detroit had all the major car companies in the US for so long, and why finance offices cluster in downtown Manhattan (they don’t even go as far away as midtown, usually).

      5. practitioners of a particular advanced art flock together in cities as they did in the medieval guild cities.

        Do you actually have a job? Today everyone works with remote vendors, teams, divisions — globally! It’s called supply chains.

        The idea that people daily work with business partners on both coasts, but you cannot separate buildings across a state is insane!

        Even at Microsoft or Boeing (and I’ve worked at both) you have such a large campus you end up dealing with people mostly by email anyway!

      6. I have a job, and it’s at Microsoft. I’ve also worked at one of Microsoft’s field sites for several years. I can tell you, with certainty, that working at Microsoft-not-in-Puget-Sound is vastly different than working at Microsoft-in-Puget-Sound and the former is not nearly as enticing. Clustering people in a smallish area is important to morale and cohesiveness. Sure, I may never go over to building 42 or 117 but we get to come together for things like the Company Meeting and go to the same set of cafeterias and hang out at Commons and participate in events at the Garage and go to my business group’s All Hands. That cannot and does not happen when at remote sites and it sucks.

        Clustering is important for groups, especially for large groups of young people who want to be in “herds.” Humans are social animals, even when we’re loners.

      7. Clustering is important for groups, especially for large groups of young people who want to be in “herds.”

        Given that then, you and your peer group should not want to commute to Seattle.

        You should all want to stay as close to the “herd” as possible and not stray away from Redmond. You would simply bicycle back to your stalls, clustering together like gazelles looking over their shoulders for cheetahs, along 156th Avenue NE to some very close by Eastside apartment dwellings.

        Also the idea of “cloud computing” would not be something that you would want as it would spread information and work all over the globe. You would still be building workgroup LANs with Windows 3.11 and using sneakerware to transport diskettes to your buds in the next building. Your company would be incapable of building any type of software for social media, or for supply chain management.

        Hey. Wait a minute … maybe we need to get Facebook to put a branch office in Yakima!

      8. John,
        You are in fantasy-land. Sure Microsoft or Amazon could try to move say 5% of their Puget Sound workers to Centralia or Ellensburg. However they would find that a majority of the employees in the groups they plan to move would quit rather than relocate. Even worse their most productive workers would be the most likely to quit. They would not find ready replacements among the talent pool in Centrailia or Ellensburg.

        Similarly start ups find they really need to be fairly close to Seattle/Bellevue/Redmond because that is where you have access to the largest number of skilled workers. Sure you can try doing a tech start-up in Aberdeen or Omak, but even tech start ups in places like Bellingham or Olympia find they need to relocate or open offices in the Seattle area to access the worker pool here.

      9. The Spokane region has the digital infrastructure to attract and support a large number of innovative, creative and growing companies which span several industry clusters. The following is a partial list of innovative companies located in our region.

        http://www.greaterspokane.org/business-overview/87-top-high-tech-co.html

        [Tri-Cities’] economy is anchored in agriculture, bio and high-technology, manufacturing, service industry and government. Major employers include Battelle/Pacific Northwest Nationals Laboratory, URS, CH2M Hill, ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, Bechtel National, Kadlec Medical Center, Amazon.com, Tyson Fresh Meats, and Lockheed Martin.

        http://www.tridec.org/about_tri_cities/welcome_to_tri-cities/

      10. Are there high-tech employers in Washington state located outside the central Puget Sound region? Yes. That does not mean these are necessarily good locations for high-tech businesses, especially when one of the biggest challenges is recruiting and retaining employees. The available talent pool is simply too small to support a lot of software firms.

  4. Just a report back from the meeting this evening (microhousing legislation): one of the most civil microhousing meetings I’ve been to, no booing, no heckling, just applause by the anti-microhousing groups.Still a problem, though, turnout by the anti-microhousing groups is way better than that of those for. Still, testimony was received by actual residents of microhousing units, which was convincing, and I believe is quite important for the council to hear, as it humanizes the effects of policy. Resentment towards “fat cat” developers and “excessive profit” was high. Further, many “anti-” speakers have adapted their arguments to give lip-speak to not being anti-diversity-of-housing, just that microhousing projects are unwelcome. Neighbors assert that design review and opportunity to appeal are necessary and that microhousing shouldn’t get a break from full design review. Especially represented at the meeting were single-family homeowners from Eastlake, though other neighborhoods near density (U-district, Wallingford, …) were also represented. Concern trolling was still present (e.g., fire safety, big enough for someone to live, etc.) was present, but reduced compared to previous meetings. Overall, I believe that the Council is level-headed but could really use additional reassurance from those who support more density. Much public comment suggested moratoriums, which Seattle cannot afford.

    1. I’m more concerned that these boarding houses will become the goto low income housing. There are some great low income housing developments in the city. Some done by great organizations like LIHI and some done by for-profit developers as required by the city.

      With a potential flood of boarding houses (cheap to build, and extremely high rents, relatively), I worry that the latter will quickly drop off, with for-profit developers pointing to boarding houses as meeting the low income requirement for an area. And boarding houses are NOT a substitute for low income housing.

      Of course, there’s also my thought that the city should put a moratorium on boarding houses and most other development until they figure out and make tangible efforts towards a reliable, mass transportation system. But that is not a topic for this blog.

      1. Well if you wanted a moratorium on building permits in Seattle I’m sure you would find many allies among the “freeze the city in amber” crowd.

        If course that wouldn’t stop people from moving here and would just make the housing we have all that much more expensive.

  5. Disappointed to hear that the height limits ruling favored the NIMBYs. Seattle claims to want to reduce sprawl, but does nothing to actually back that up.

    1. Rezone the entire city for 400′ towers with no parking requirements.

    2. I’m disappointed that the height limit ruling wasn’t tied to raising the height limits in non-SFH zones. Where is the quid pro quo? The anti-growth-inside-Seattle-ers are trying to stop more people from moving into every neighborhood (in Seattle), not just the SFH neighborhoods. Will there actually be any new “allies” who, thankful of last night’s decision, show up and advocate higher density in urban villages? I’m not holding my breath for that.

      1. Expect to see every effort to raise height limits anywhere in the city opposed. Further expect the “frozen in amber” crowd to continue to push for a city-wide moratorium on new building permits. If they get their way expect that moratorium to become like the moratorium on strip-club permits and be semi-permanent until the courts intervene.

        Aspen, here we come!

  6. I’d be pretty curious if anybody has numbers, or can get numbers, on the rate of car ownership among micro-housing tenants. It seems like there’s a lot of speculation, but having a good estimate of car ownership might bolster the case for micro-housing, or at least modify the proposed parking requirements

    1. One of the developers present last night said that only 10% of residents in the microhousing development owned cars.

  7. Seattle agrees to lower height limits of new houses on small lots

    The development of houses on what had been the side and backyards of their neighbors’ bungalows and Craftsman homes touched a nerve across the city over the pace and scale of construction and where the city would direct coming growth. Some council members noted that city plans call for growth to be concentrated in urban villages, urban centers and around transit stations and that single-family neighborhoods were never meant to add significant density.

    “For those of us who believe Seattle must be a city that accommodates more people, we need allies in the neighborhood,” said Councilmember Nick Licata, who introduced the amendment eliminating the 100 percent rule. He said the new-home development on small lots “gives neighbors a sour taste of density” and doesn’t create affordable housing.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023651277_councilvotesmalllotxml.html

    1. Building smaller, cheaper units, and more of them within the footprint of one lot, doesn’t create affordable housing? Huh?

      If I were on the NIMBY side, I would be starting to get worried that the renters will unite with an initiative to throw out much of the city’s zoning and land use laws as extreme overreach that is driving rent through the roof. The NIMBY’s had better be looking for new allies, as they just got their hats handed to them in the last mayoral primary.

  8. You sure use a lot of weasel words and untrue facts to blanket those opposed to boarding houses. Are there some people that don’t like them because they’ll bring poor people in? Sure. Are there some people that don’t like them because they’ll swamp parking? Sure. But blanketing all anti-boarding house advocates with those statements is akin to assuming pro-boarding house advocates are only pro-developer shills.

    I get it, you are the editor-in-chief, clearly pro-density “at all cost”, and this is clearly an opinion piece, but your “Microhousing” statement sure puts an awkward blemish on an otherwise great transit blog.

    1. So, what are the “valid” anti-micro housing arguments that these poor concerned neighbors should be blanketed with? What are the true facts and non-weasel words? Sounds like you think there are valid reasons people would oppose these new neighbors, so what are they?

      1. Seem my previous response a few conversations up. Recap is: these are a poor substitute for low-income housing and the fact that we need a transit solution to facilitate increased density.

      2. What constitutes good low-income housing? Subsidized regular apartments? Also, who is to say the people renting these units are low-income? I see these as unsubsidized low income or minimal lifestyle living units. If I were single the minimalistic nature and low cost of these units would have some appeal to me, if only for a certain period of time.

        Instead of pouring energy into stopping growth we should encourage growth and put energy into emphasizing the importance of transportation improvements. We will never get the transit system we need if we stop growing. Seattle is still much less dense than most transit-rich places. If we stop building housing, we will become San Francisco. Welcome to $3000 1 bedroom apartments.

      3. Some negatives: I expect higher turnover of residents leading to higher wear and tear to the apodment properties; the quality of management will be far more key to the stability of the project just as it was with rooming houses; neigborhood parking will be impacted negatively….leading to more permit parking jurisdictions getting created.

        This forum is so quick to support this type of housing when there is so little historical operational experience. It reminds me of the quick endorsement of the monorail to W. Seattle which turned out to be an expensive boondoggle.

      4. @Brett You are the first advocate of boarding houses I’ve ever heard admit to even considering ever living in one. Good low-income housing is housing for people working service industry and other minimum-ish wage jobs, that wish to live in the city, close to their jobs, but can’t afford the exponential rising cost of rent, and doesn’t force them to live dorm style with people they don’t know or want to live with. Look at a lot of what LIHI does, compare it to boarding houses. Is forcing these low income workers into boarding houses what we as a city want?

        Now tell me, with a proliferation of boarding houses, that developers aren’t going to point to them as a case against low income requirements in new development.

        And the problem with your second thought, is that neighborhoods have been fed the “transit will follow growth” shtick for more than a decade (it’s been covered in the comments for many articles) and I don’t think anyone believes it at this point. Now people are fed up and what’s happening is things like Council Districts and more and more people in favor of moratoriums on development. The best we’ve gotten are RapidRides and Sound Transit dangling LRT in front of us (2030?), meanwhile watching Central Link going to places that are going to get upzoned AFTER getting true, mass transit.

      5. @Brett……its interesting to me that objectors to apodments automatically get categorized as no growthers and/or people who fear low income people moving into their neighborhood. I am neither opposed to growth nor fearful of low income folks but I question whether the micro housing model will be a successful one. From a property mgmt perspective, there are some real hazards with micro housing and it concerns me that it may be a trend that will fizzle out and Seattle will be left with hundreds if not thousands of quickly deteriorating housing. Its why I applaud any efforts that will slow their growth so that we have enough time to document their viability.

      6. “This forum is so quick to support this type of housing when there is so little historical operational experience. It reminds me of the quick endorsement of the monorail to W. Seattle which turned out to be an expensive boondoggle.”

        This forum (STB) didn’t exist at the time of the first monorail vote. I voted for it each time, but most of the commenters here have been critical of it.

        How can microhousing, which is private developments, become “an expensive boondoggle”?

      7. I don’t see micro-housing as a poor substitute for federal housing. That’s for sure. There may be some public housing that is better than micro-housing, but given the choice, I’ll take the latter.

      8. @Brent

        “How can microhousing, which is private developments, become “an expensive boondoggle”?”

        The fact that you have to ask suggests you haven’t thought through the negative impact micro housing could have on a neighborhood. Worse………you might not have the background to be able to think it through. Should micro housing prove not to be the desirable housing you all think it will be, begins to experience heavy turnover and mgmt has difficulty in getting good residents, it could very quickly turn into transient/poor quality housing. That means apt bldgs near the micro housing are impacted, leading to more turnover in those bldgs. That means the surrounding single family homes…….the housing you all so hate………..but which pays a lot of taxes to the city……….are impacted and their valuations fall.

        As a renter, I have lived in housing near large apt bldgs. I have seen how those bldgs can impact the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. And that was before micro housing. And I am not buying what one developer said; that only 10% of residents in micro housing have cars. Not in West Seattle where a car is a necessity. Besides, how would a developer know if he’s renting with people with or without cars since micro housing has no parking.

        Seattle is one of the more successful cities in this country. And that didn’t happen by chance. It required a lot of active participation in its future. It required compromises. And it didn’t happen by accepting every new fad without asking questions and careful study. I don’t think some of you know what’s at stake here. But there are many of us who do and we aren’t going to sit quietly by the sidelines because you all think something is cool.

      9. @Brent
        “I don’t see micro-housing as a poor substitute for federal housing. That’s for sure. There may be some public housing that is better than micro-housing, but given the choice, I’ll take the latter.”

        That’s great, a few of my friends, who have and still do live in low income housing, would beg to differ. What they see are a bunch of middle class people, with too much time on their hands, and for reasons unknown to them, advocating for and shoving “rooming houses” down Seattle’s throat, as the “New, Improved Low Income Housing™ (Now Yuppie Improved!)”.

        A vast majority of the advocates will never have to experience low income housing. They won’t have to be told “Hey, nevermind those one bedroom, low income apartments we strove for in the past. Here’s a tiny bedroom and a kitchen/living room you get to share with 8 other people you don’t know or trust”.

        And the issue that comes out of it, which has been mentioned many times before, is that it causes people to lump pro-rooming house advocates with all us other pro-density people. The next thing you know, people rally against all destiny, lawsuits happen, zoning regulations are downsized and we retreat back to the Seattle of the 90s. Rooming houses exist in a grey legal area, currently allowed by loopholes that weren’t foreseen. Therein lies the problem. Let’s first close the loophole and then discuss the need for rooming houses in our zoning code.

      10. Alki,

        Property tax is not the only form of taxation in this town (not that I buy your Chicken Little hypothesis that rental units are some sort of cancer that will reduce total property tax collection). More people means more economic activity, and more sales tax collection.

        This blog has spilt a lot of ink on clever ways to deal with parking issues. Avail yourself of all the commentary. :)

      11. @Brent

        I did not say that rental housing is a cancer and I am well aware what a city’s revenue sources are. All I am saying is that microhousing is a relatively new concept and we do not know its impact on neighborhoods. That’s why I am suggesting we go slow and study its impact before building too many more units. Why this threatens you is beyond me. Its like you’re in this just to get more density whether its good for Seattle or not. I hope that’s not true.

      12. Alki,

        You’re the one who is acting threatened. My personal interest is simple: I am a renter, I do not want my rent to skyrocket, and I want to continue to be able to live in Seattle.

        We have plenty of evidence that without new housing supply, rent will skyrocket as it has in San Francisco. No need to take it slow and study further. We have all the information we need.

      13. Brent,

        The assumption here on this forum is that if enough housing units are built, rents will stay reasonable. Its not a correct assumption. Supply is only one of the factors that causes rents to rise or fall. More important factors are the cost of land, the cost of labor and the standard of living.

        Land costs are high because Seattle is water locked on two sides. Labor costs are high because of industries like Boeing which pay their employees very well. The standard of living is high because Seattle has a lot of home grown, quality companies…….Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Costco, Nordstrom’s, F-5, T-Mobile, Starbucks etc.

        Its why in the last three years Seattle has seen rents go up very fast despite a boom in housing production. Even if you doubled production all that would happen is that eventually units would exceed demand, lenders would cut off the construction spigot, rents would drop temporarily and construction would stall. If employment continued to grow, then rents eventually would resume their upward trend once all the surplus units had been absorbed. The only way Seattle would experience a severe drop in rents is if the city experienced a severe depression. That’s not likely to happen in our life times.

        So you need to accept that Seattle will remain a fairly expensive place to live no matter the number of units produced annually, or how much density is increased.

      14. Alki,

        Nobody has said keeping the housing “boom” (This is a boom? I’d hate to see what a bust looks like.) going will necessarily hold rents down. But we do know where rents are headed if the NIMBYs succeed at shutting off the spigot. That’s one reason we don’t want to see the spigot shut off. (And the threat that the spigot might get shut off is hardly a reason to let you shut the spigot off.) Yes, Seattle will always be an expensive place to live, if you blow a chunk of your income on a car. We’re trying to make it easier to dispense with the car part. You are pulling in the opposite direction.

      15. Micro housing is nothing new. Boarding houses have been around for years. SRO hotels as well. I can point to buildings built 20+ years ago that look very much like the current micro housing/apodment developments.

        The biggest change is more one of micro housing developments going into areas with lots of SF homeowners rather than being surrounded by mostly transient renters like in the U-District.

    2. Run down housing is run down housing, whether it is normal apartments, subsidized low income housing, rental houses, etc. Your fear of run down apodments will be accompanied by run down houses on the same block.

      You both are basically laying out fear, uncertainty and doubt and suggesting we stop these developments and wait and “document their viability”. How long will that take? What are your viability criteria?

      1. @Brett………first I am not speaking for Rapidrider; just myself. Secondly, I am not promoting fear but rather raising questions as a housing development and property mgmt professional. Very reasonable questions I might add. Thirdly, the micro housing concept is very new in this country and in Seattle. I have some very legitimate concerns based upon my professional background. Homeowners have very legitimate concerns because they want to protect their housing investment. This concept needs to be tested and studied to determine its long term viability and its fit into city neighborhoods.

        And it doesn’t help my concerns when I read that planners have let units smaller than the minimum be approved for construction. It seems city employees need to learn the legislation governing this housing concept.

      2. Huh? Boarding houses have been around for years. There are a fair number of homes all over the city that operate in this fashion, many flying under the radar of the DPD. For that matter until changes to the city code there were a fair number of SRO hotels, especially downtown. These had been built to accommodate workers during past economic booms in Seattle.

        While the code changes were due to life safety reasons and arguably for the greater good they had the net effect of eliminating a lot of low income housing.

        Apodments are nothing new, they are simply the latest evolution of a type of housing that has been with us for years. I can point to a 25 year old “apodment” that was built next to the rooming house I was living in at the time. 32 units, each with their own bathroom, 4 shared kitchens, and 4 off-street parking spaces. I considered moving in but decided to split a 2 BR apartment with a friend instead.

    3. RapidRider,

      I thought we were talking about micro-housing, not boarding houses. What’s wrong with boarding houses?

      1. Well, I’m not sure what to call them, since microhousing is an ambiguous term and aPodment is a registered trademark. Maybe boarding house isn’t the correct term, since those sometimes include meals. Maybe rooming house is a better term?

      2. Then “rooming house”, it is. I’ve lived in several boarding houses and several rooming houses (actually, homes turned into rental houses). I suspect all are in some legal gray area. Boarding houses (including co-ops), may not be totally in compliance with business and health regulations. Rooming houses may be running afoul of various land use regulations. I’m not an expert. But just because the law favors SFHs doesn’t mean they meet the needs of the denizenry better.

        I currently live in an apartment more than twice the size I need. More modest sizes are just not to be found in my neighborhood, unfortunately.

  9. @ Brent,

    Yes, this is a housing boom. The fact that you seem surprised concerns me. Its estimated that Seattle is growing at the fastest rate its grown in decades.

    No one is talking about shutting off the construction spigot but even if Seattle were too slow construction, that doesn’t mean rents will start to skyrocket. Seattle is not the only jurisdiction producing housing units. If construction slows in Seattle, developers will move to Federal Way, Burien, Auburn, Shoreline, etc.

    Seattle is an expensive place period. It has little to do with owning a car. Again, Seattle is expensive place because land is dear, its water locked on two sides, its built on hills, salaries are high because of our industry mix.

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