LOCAL NEWS

Seattle council approves ‘McMansion’ ban, backyard cottage proposal

Jul 1, 2019, 8:09 AM | Updated: 5:08 pm

Seattle is set to embark on a new frontier filled with backyard cottages, after Seattle City Council voted unanimously to approve a new measure Monday afternoon.

The bill expands the ability of homeowners looking to build backyard cottages and mother-in-law units. Supporters have argued that by allowing more small cottages — aka accessory dwelling units (ADU) — homeowners with adequate space could add more housing to the city, one backyard at a time.

“This legislation creates modest but meaningful changes to provide flexible, affordable housing options for families, homeowners, and renters while still preserving the look and feel of single-family neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who spearheaded the legislation.

NIMBY, YIMBY, or classism in Seattle
Affordable housing slated for Seattle light rail stations

Opening up ADU potential in Seattle is only part of a bill that’s been almost four years in the making. It modifies a range of property regulations with the goal of creating more living space in a city desperately in need of housing. The proposal would:

  • Increase the allowable size of ADUs from 800 to 1,000 square feet.
  • Allow ADUs to be built on smaller lots.
  • Both backyard cottages and mother-in-law units could be built on the same property.
  • An owner occupancy requirement would be lifted. Previously, homeowners were required to live on site if they wished to rent on the property.

“Seattle is in the midst of an affordability and housing crisis,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in a news release. “This crisis calls on each of us to act with urgency, using every tool available to increase housing options and make room for our neighbors as quickly as possible. Today, the Seattle City Council took an important step with the passage of this legislation, but there is more work to do.”

The council bill also goes beyond allowing for a new form of housing and bans another. “McMansions,” or considerably large homes compared to the property they occupy, are banned in the legislation. The square footage of new homes will be limited in relation to the lot size.

The proposed regulations would take effect six months after its passing, so there will still be a little bit of time to build a home so large and imposing that your new neighbors will be perpetually annoyed with you.

Backyard cottages

Seattle currently has less than 2,000 ADUs. The city estimates that the new regulations could open up a cottage industry over the next 10 years, bringing the total up to about 4,400.

The effort to open up Seattle’s regulations to allow for more backyard cottages and ADUs has been years in the making. The most recent effort was spearheaded by Councilmember Mike O’Brien in 2016. At the time, it was estimated that about 75,000 single-family lots in Seattle could qualify for backyard cottages. Following a study and an ADU pilot, Seattle was ready to open it up across the city — that is, after yet another study to look into the environmental impacts.

Then, the Queen Anne Community Council challenged the plan, arguing backyard cottages would negatively impact neighborhoods. That argument went to a hearing examiner which ruled in favor of the city in May.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also jumped on the ADU bandwagon in May 2018. The mayor proposed a streamlined approach to getting the cottages approved and built. The mayor’s plan is to pre-approve a range of ADU models which would go through less city paperwork, speeding up the permitting process.

Local News

fall city...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Two dead after tree crushes car in Fall City

Two people are dead after a tree fell on a car in Fall City on Sunday afternoon, according to Eastside Fire and Rescue.
1 day ago
Paine Field...
Kathryn Altena

Paine Field recertified as ‘Salmon Safe’ by Oregon based nonprofit

Paine Field was recently recertified as "Salmon Safe" by an Oregon based environmental nonprofit, after first earning the certification in 2019.
1 day ago
covid...
MyNorthwest Staff

UW Medicine study seeks local participants to understand COVID spread

UW Medicine invites Washington state residents up to age 85 to submit a survey about their exposure to COVID during the pandemic as part of a study.
2 days ago
Amazon...
MyNorthwest Staff

Amazon hiring for more than 500 positions at new sort center in Fife

A new Amazon facility in Fife, Washington, that's set to open later this month has starting hiring for more than 500 positions.
2 days ago
hospitals...
Nicole Jennings

Rural Eastern Washington hospitals say no big losses in staffing post-vaccine mandate

Some of the rural Eastern Washington hospitals that were expected to have big losses after the vaccine mandate say things are going well.
2 days ago
Climate Pledge Arena...
Associated Press

Climate Pledge Arena ready to get Kraken for hockey debut

The first event ever inside Climate Pledge Arena — whether it will be considered the official first event or not — was far from a soft opening.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Seattle council approves ‘McMansion’ ban, backyard cottage proposal