GEE AND URSULA

Could backyard cottages expand from Seattle to the rest of Washington?

Feb 10, 2023, 6:40 PM

ADU...

(MyNorthwest File Photo)

(MyNorthwest File Photo)

Legislation to support building more accessory dwelling units (ADU) within a property is gaining momentum, as a bill officially passed out of the Senate Committee on Local Government, Land Use & Tribal Affairs this week.

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) — known more commonly as a backyard cottage — is a secondary house or apartment within the lot of a primary home. This has been implemented within the city of Seattle, and now Senate Bill 5235 wants to expand this project throughout the entire state.

“You’re not necessarily allowed to build an ADU on all properties within our different cities,” Rep. Sharon Shewmake said on The Gee and Ursula Show. “Some of them prohibit them, some of them you can build an attached, but not a detached unit, and we’re trying to legalize them across there.”

The new grocery store experience: Higher prices, locked merchandise

The legislation would require significant plans under the Growth Management Act, according to The Center Square.

“I want to make sure that more people can build ADUs around our state,” Shewmake said. “So we’re saying, first of all, you can have an attached and a detached accessory dwelling unit or a little garden cottage, whatever you want to call it, on those slots within cities and urban growth areas.

“The other thing we’re seeing, I know in Bellingham, we have an owner occupancy restriction which means the owner has to be either in the main unit or the smaller unit. And people have debates about why we need that or why it was put in place,” Shewmake continued. “The thing that bothers me is I don’t think an owner is necessarily a better neighbor. So I don’t think we should be discriminating based on how someone pays to live in their home, whether it’s owning or renting, so we’re getting rid of owner occupancy restrictions as well.”

There are a few exceptions to building a backyard cottage within the bill, including building on environmentally-sensitive lands and on the smallest of lots in the state.

“But generally, it gives people more flexibility,” Shewmake said.

Seattle has allowed attached ADUs since 1994 and detached ADUs in all single-family zones since 2010. Nearly a decade later, in July 2019, former Mayor Jenny Durkan signed legislation to remove regulatory barriers and make it easier for property owners to create ADUs.

As of 2021, there were 2,582 permitted ADUs within the city. The minimum lot size required for a detached ADU is 3,200 square-feet in neighborhood residential zones, while a detached ADU is limited to 1,000 square feet of gross floor area.

Conor Sen, an opinion columnist for Bloomberg, argued the biggest appeal of ADUs is how complementary they fit into a neighborhood.

Legislature mulls expanding partial exemptions for property taxes

“This form of housing avoids some of the “neighborhood character” objections that come into play when developers propose higher-intensity projects like apartment buildings or high-rises,” Sen wrote for The Washington Post.

“So, who says no?” Gee asked during his conversation with Shewmake.

“I think sometimes when we talk about changes in zoning and changes about what’s allowed to be built, people who really deeply love their neighborhoods are just afraid of any sort of change,” Shewmake said. “And look, I love my neighborhood too. But I recognize that cities change with people. [Seattle] needs to grow with our population.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

Image: Former Congressman Dave Reichert is running in 2024 to be Washington's governor....

Frank Sumrall

Reichert: Ferguson trying to ‘undermine my reputation’ as honest public servant

"That question seems to be almost comical," gubernatorial candidate Reichert said. "No. 1, why does it matter who I'm going to vote for?"

5 days ago

zebra...

Frank Sumrall

KIRO exclusive: Owner of recovered zebra describes escape, getting kangaroos

Shug was one of four zebras being taken back to their home at a farm in Anaconda, Montana, operated by owner Kristine Keltgen.

1 month ago

Photo: Seattle Mayor Harrell has decided to conduct an outside investigation of SPD....

Ursula Reutin

Ursula: The outside investigation of SPD can’t come soon enough

An outside investigation of SPD is desperately needed to address what many within the department have described as a "good ol' boys" culture.

1 month ago

...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: Why you shouldn’t hit on the barista: Gee Scott on avoiding awkward situations

Gee Scott has some sound advice for those young men or women who attempt to hit on the barista. Listen to The Gee & Ursula Show weekdays from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM or on-demand wherever you listen to podcasts. More info on The Gee & Ursula Show here: https://mynorthwest.com/category/gee-and-ursula/

1 month ago

Image: A man got beaten and robbed in broad daylight in Seattle at Cal Anderson Park on Sunday, Apr...

Bill Kaczaraba

Video of man getting knocked out, robbed in Seattle goes viral; Gee and Ursula respond

A disturbing video has gone viral of a man getting knocked out and robbed by a small group of people on Capitol Hill Sunday.

2 months ago

Image: A tow truck removes one of the cars blocking the expressway leading to Seattle-Tacoma Intern...

Bill Kaczaraba

Gee and Ursula: Did pro-Palestinian protesters lose supporters by blocking traffic?

46 pro-Palestinian demonstrators were arrested after blocking the expressway leading to Sea–Tac. Gee Scott says that's when they lost him.

2 months ago

Could backyard cottages expand from Seattle to the rest of Washington?