Seattle Multi Family Code update: news from yesterday's meeting

CAST has been involved in reworking the Multi-family code for the City of Seattle--this byzantine, arcane legacy that seems to produce the dreaded Four Pack/Six Pack around a shared auto court. The proposed code is evolutionary, and at this point, has been watered to down to the point that the impact will not affect the majority of lowrise multifamily that goes up in Seattle.  It is pretty disappointing in general, but a couple of highlights:

1. The move to FAR rather than density limits for number of unit will create more demand for smaller units in the L3 zone

2.  The setbacks are reduced--good for the urban sidewalk edge, and allow raised stoops in the front yard.

3. Height bonuses for workforce housing, and green building are going to get used--an example of incentivizing good construction.

And a couple of lowlights:

1.  Green Factor's heart in is the right place, but the high baseline is going to force some heavy gaming of the rules, such as fences become 'vegetated walls', and green roofs are going to go in then be abandoned.  The city would be better off lowering the baseline and focusing it on green factors that are going to be maintained and become beneficial for the environment and the city.

2.  Density limits in L1 remain, and thus there is zero impetus to alter the 4 pack in any meaningful way.

3.  Partially below grade parking doesn't count toward FAR (that's good), but doesn't give you additional height--meaning no one is going to pay to bury the parking if they are then also not able to offset the cost with a third story of marketable square footage.

I'll post more info later....