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Big meeting about tiny housing sparks debate

SEATTLE — More than 100 Seattle residents crammed into a small meeting room Monday evening to vent about small living spaces known by many as ‘apodments.’

apodmentsIt’s a cost effective trend popping up throughout the city. Several tiny living spaces similar to dorm rooms, each outfitted with a bed, bathroom and sink, but all individuals share one common kitchen and laundry room creating one large unit under building code.

Each room rents for $600-700 a month. They cater to a crowd of students and low income workers who can’t afford housing in the heart of the city.

Robert Pantley who represents micro-housing developers, said, “63% of people coming to work in the city are coming from outside the city. Jammed freeways taking up parking in our neighborhoods because we’re taking away the affordability component for them to live here.”

The overwhelming majority of people attending Monday night’s meeting were against the idea, like long time Seattle resident, Paul Haury. His single family home is on a street with two micro-housing developments. He worries about parking and increased traffic they might bring.

“The truth of the matter is if it gets to the point where there are 700 more cars vying for places to park on my block which is what we’re looking at, that’s kind of problematic and it’s going to reduce the quality of life,” Haury said.

Haury’s concern and many others are being heard and city council members are here listening

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was one of three Seattle councilmembers attending.

Rasmussen said, “We want to hear from the community what they’re concerns are. What theyh would like the city to do. But we also want to hear from developers. What are they building. What are they seeing in terms of the market.”

Based on this discussion city leaders might change the future of development in Seattle.

“A lot of people want to live here,” Rasmussen said.  “It’s very difficult to afford to be able to live here if you have a moderate or love income. We want to make sure we have a good range of housing for everyone but we want to also make sure that it’s safe and healthy and it fits in with all our overall goals and plans for the city.”

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3 comments

  • re:anonymous

    The builders had it approved before it was built with city permits. The parking issue is not the apodments problem,,its now a city planning issue. The homeowners bought a house and not the street so why are they complaining about? Tax dollars paid for the streets not just exclusively the homeowners

  • Drew

    I was there and your characterization of the attendees being overwhelmingly opposed to microhousing is untrue. There were some very loud (and rude) opponents to microhousing but I was among dozens of people in attendance who want to see more microhousing. For many of Seattle residents the dream of owning a single family home in a nice neighborhood like Capitol Hill is not a viable option and I see much more hope for the future in creative new developpment styles like microhousing that create economies through sharing amenities and having smaller individual units. Opponents use broad strokes to characterize microhousing and it was clear from the case laid out for a moratorium that most objections to microhousing could be equally applied to any new development. Picking on the only form of new development coming close to providing affordable options in our most popular neighborhoods is unfair and an infringement upon fundamental rights of property owners.

    By the logic laid out by opponents last night, we should consider a moratorium on all new development of any kind because any new development inevitably is disruptive during construction, adds density, and alters the character of a neighborhood. Microhousing is being built in accordance with existing zoning and building codes in terms of safety, size and shape. The defining difference is that it has smaller and more affordable units than other new development. There was a lot of talk last night about how units aren’t really affordable but compared to any other new, privately funded construction in comparable neighborhoods, microhousing is much cheaper. This is why there is such strong demand for these units. A couple of cogent suggestions were made such as adding an administrative design review that could be expanded if neighboors appeal. That seems like reasonable idea and in general, developers should be working with neighbors and keeping them in the loop of what is happening. The moratotrum and attempts to stifle this type of development are terrible ideas.

  • Paul

    Some people want to live in high density with the hustle and bustle. Some of us want to live in our singal family neighborhoods w/o huge congestion and not in the shadow of a 7 story building.

    The problem is the DPD allowing and encouraging unreasonable development at the expense of people's lives, neighborhoods and property.

    Pretty sure that for those of you happily residing in apodments, that if the City DPD were to allow some affluent person or group take your car, bike or bus pass, or anything else you worked hard for, you would not be happy.


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