communities

Interbay P-Patch published in new book

p-patch-book-cover We are very excited to see this survey of Seattle's urban community gardens, especially since the Interbay P-Patch is included as one of the case studies.  The P-Patch is one of my personal favorites because of the impact it has had in strengthening this vital community, and has been instrumental in showing other neighborhoods how to implement their own community garden.

Further, the P-Patch really showed us just how satisfying working on these small pro bono projects can be. Since the P-Patch, we'll donated about 5% of our yearly output to pro bono causes, including daycares, parks, and community centers and hope that we'll have more opportunities to help concerned citizen groups visualize and build a better city.

Seattle Backyard Cottages-Land Use meeting recap

We're almost there--the committee passed the measure to allow backyard cottages in Seattle.  Next stop will be City Council. There are some notable amendments to the ordinance--the 50 per year allowed cap has been eliminated.  The heights have changed somewhat.  A discussion to limit the cottage height to no more than 15' above the primary residence's roof (which would affect sloped lots primarily) was tabled without conclusion.

The discussion is a little strange, in that some of the requirements being tossed around are more stringent than for building a single family house.  Case in point--if this relative height limit section passes, you will need a topographic survey to prove that the cottage conforms (not required on a new house if well within setbacks and under height), thus added about $2000 to the pricetag for the drawings.  This doesn't make any sense if the city is serious about this as being an affortable option.

Another case in point--Councilmember Rasmussen was leaning toward a neighborhood notice, similar to a MUP, but the neighbor's recourse, provided the cottage design fits the requirements, is nil.  The cottage is a Level 1 decision (no notice necessary, just like a new single family house), but creating such a provision would form a special class of notice ("Here is what is happening next door, but there is nothing you can do about it.  Thanks for coming down.").

Unfortunately, I had to run out before the discussion on the privacy issue, another NIMBY favorite, but in the end the ordinance is one step closer to fruition.

You can see the entire meeting online at the Seattle Channel here.  Backyard Cottage discussion starts at 107.30.

Backyard Cottages - Multigenerational Housing comes to Seattle

Here at CAST we have been watching the Seattle City Council very closely over the past few months as they contemplate passing an ordinance that would allow homeowners to construct backyard cottages, or DADUs (detached accessory dwelling units), on their property... The measure is of particular interest to me as I'm a proponent of multigenerational living. If passed, the ordinance would provide greater flexibility for Seattle homeowners who wish to bring their families closer together. Curious what the ordinance would mean for my own property I spent a little time putting together some plans...

For my own property I envision a studio space above our existing garage that will provide a place for friends and family to stay during extended visits...

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If you live in Seattle and are interested in seeing the measure passed by the council, please take a minute and email your Seattle city council members with your support:

Planning Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee: Sally Clark; sally.clark@seattle.gov (Sally is the committee chair and in charge of getting the measure to vote) Tim Burgess; tim.burgess@seattle.gov Tom Rasmussen; tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov Jen Godden; jean.godden@seattle.gov (alt. member)

The remainder of the council is: Richard Conlin; richard.conlin@seattle.gov Jan Drago: jan.drago@seattle.gov Bruce Harrell; bruce.harrell@seattle.gov Nick Licata; nick.licata@seattle.gov Richard Mciver; richard.mciver@seattle.gov

Seattle Backyard Cottages

We have been working hard to get the City of Seattle to agree to allow Backyard Cottages, or DADUs (detached accessory dwelling units). It gives owners opportunity and choice to provide additional housing for rental or a studio, will increase property values and does so in a measured way that is conscientious of neighbors and the single family neighborhood fabric. The current legislation will allow fifty per year--so it will have a minimal effect on neighborhood character.  If anything, I'd like to see more of them.

I find it amazing that this is at all controversial, considering you can put an detached accessory building or garage on your lot which may not be as tall, but can take up to 1000 square feet of your back yard!   The argument that this proposal will lead to less trees and green space in Seattle is a red herring.

And since attached accessory dwellings are already allowed outright, it also doesn't make sense that this proposal will lead to more density.  More likely, it will lead to more people choosing to build a small cottage than expanding their existing house to provide for the mother-in-law.  Two smaller structures are better for the scale of the city than more larger houses.

Carriage houses are successful component of many cities' neighborhood fabric and we'd like to see them allowed in Seattle too!  If they were, I'd build one--my neighborhood and site would be perfect for a little cottage--so here is my first pass....

backyard_cottage

I need a shop space, my wife needs an home office, and both of us need a place for our parents when they are in town for extended visits.

The building's footprint is roughly 40 x 14 with an airy studio (or 1 car garage with ample storage), and a guest bedroom and bath on the first floor.  Stairs lead up to a loft office overlooking the garden.  The design has some additional flexibility built in--the garage can be built with the rough in for a kitchen, so with minor changes, we'd have a 2br/1ba cottage.

We have been talking to an excellent local contractor with experience in prefab about teaming up to deliver a few prototypical designs for a fixed price (including ground work) somewhere around $210 a square foot, but one-off custom stick built cottages will be competitive in price, and adapt to the unique conditions of each site--existing lot coverage, location of existing buildings, solar orientation, parking, matching materials etc.

Before we do any real development, the City Council needs to green light the ordinance.  So you support the legislation, email the council!