After an intense round of public comment – which ended with heckling from people who wanted it extended – the City Council voted unanimously today to pass emergency rules targeting a particular form of so-called “tall skinny house” development. Here’s the news release:
The Seattle City Council today approved legislation that puts interim controls in place on small lot development in Seattle.
While the City has generally been supportive of urban infill development, some single family development approved under current lot size exceptions, has resulted in structures that are out of character with surrounding conditions and inconsistent with the policy intent for infill development. Interim measures were adopted today to allow adequate time for analysis and discussion of permanent standards.
“This legislation is not about density – the modest number of homes that can be built under this loophole are not a significant addition to the housing stock. And it is certainly not about affordable housing,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, Chair of the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee. “Rather, it’s about replacing a random pattern with no rhyme or reason, dependent on a developer happening to find archaic lot lines that were not intended to define a buildable lot, with planning in a systematic and thoughtful way.”
Interim measures were adopted so that development is more proportionate to the lot size. The proposed interim measures would:
· Limit application of the lot size exception to lots with an area of at least 50 percent of the minimum requirement for the zone; prohibit development on lots that are less than 50 percent.
· Disallow reliance on historic tax records as a basis for qualifying for the lot area exception.
Limit the height of development on lots less than 3,750 square feet to 22’.
The City Council adopted the following schedule as part of the legislation, calling for the City to adopt permanent regulations within a year:
(Editor’s note – To see the timetable, in table format we can’t easily replicate here, go to this city webpage and scrolling down)