By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The city has formally gone public this week with its proposed new rules for so-called microhousing, though they won’t affect the two projects already well under way in West Seattle or two others in the works, which are:
*4548 Delridge (3 stories, 16 sleeping rooms, 2 “dwelling units,” top photo)
*3266 Avalon Way (5 stories, 56 sleeping rooms, 7 “dwelling units,” photo below)
*3050 Avalon Way (5 stories, 110 sleeping rooms, 14 “dwelling units,” not yet under construction)
*5949 California SW (4 stories, 38 sleeping rooms, 5 “dwelling units,” not yet under construction)
Those four are all on the citywide microhousing-projects list that is part of the package accompanying the proposal, which debuted in the most recent edition of the city’s twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin.
“Dwelling units” refers to how many shared kitchens the microhousing buildings have – up to eight “sleeping rooms” can share one. But the “dwelling unit” count is what has allowed many of these projects to move below the radar for design review among other things – it’s been difficult in some cases to comb through documentation to find that an “eight-unit” development is really a place where 80 people will live.
The design-review rules regarding microphousing would change as one of the following key points of the proposed ordinance (which you can see in its entirety here), although it does not appear the aforementioned West Seattle projects/proposals would have qualified for full design review – just the city’s streamlined administrative process.
The new rules also would specify that microhousing is not allowed in a single-family zone (even a building that would theoretically pencil out to one “dwelling unit”).
Another part of the proposal that’s likely to get attention: A requirement for 1 parking space for every 4 sleeping rooms in a microhousing development – unless it’s in an “urban center” or “station area overlay district,” or in an urban village and within 1,320 feet of a street with frequent transit service, in which case none would be required. 1 bicycle parking space would be required for every 4 sleeping rooms.
Also of note, in case you had wondered, the ordinance contains the official definition of different terminology used for this type of development:
“Congregate residence” means a use in which rooms or lodging, with or without meals, are provided for nine or more non-transient persons not constituting a single household, excluding single-family dwelling units for which special or reasonable accommodation has been granted.
17. “Micro” means a room or rooms within micro-housing having all of the following characteristics:
a. contains 285 square feet or less;
b. contains a bathroom with a toilet, bathing facility, and sink;
c. does not contain a food preparation area or kitchen;
d. no sink is located outside of the bathroom within the micro.
The city is asking for comments on the proposed legislation by October 21st; this page on the Department of Planning and Development website shows how to comment. Documents related to the proposal are linked here.