“Megahouse” proposal passes, 9 months after 1st word here

Way back in January, when we reported on City Council President Richard Conlin speaking to the Alki Community Council, we mentioned he was working on a proposal to curb so-called “megahouse” development, aka “McMansions.” Two months later, Conlin told the Southwest District Council he was still working on it, but the process was “frustrating.” Now, this afternoon, there is word councilmembers have passed a bill about it – here’s the official news release:

The Council today passed legislation that addresses
Seattleites’ concerns about MegaHouses- out-of-scale, out-of-character
houses seemingly plunked into neighborhoods, overshadowing houses around
them. Councilmember Sally J. Clark, chair of the Planning, Land Use and
Neighborhoods Committee, said, “This is one of the issues I hear most
about from neighborhoods all over Seattle. I’m pleased we have passed
this new legislation to reign in the rush of oversized houses in our
neighborhoods.” Council President Richard Conlin said, “We have got
to be thoughtful about how our city grows. This legislation protects the
character of Seattle’s neighborhoods by ensuring that new homes are in
scale with existing ones.”

The new legislation will help by 1) adjusting the formula for how much
of a lot may be covered by the structure; 2) better protecting
neighboring homeowners from being overshadowed by removing the provision
that currently allows a house’s height to be based on neighboring
property if it is taller than 30 feet; 3) Limiting the location and
visibility of garage doors that face a street; 4) reducing how much
height for houses are allowed on lots on sloped sites; and 5) waiving
parking requirements on lots of less than 3,000 square feet, thereby
reducing the prominence of a garage as part of a structure.

Council President Conlin said, “This new law will help ensure that
new homes contribute positively to neighborhood character, yet allow
flexibility in accommodating future growth and increase housing choices
for Seattle residents. “

Councilmember Clark said, “People tell me that big-box houses block
neighbor’s sunlight or limit the number of trees and yard space in
their neighborhood. This legislation is a great start toward solving the
problems associated with MegaHouses.”

6 Replies to ""Megahouse" proposal passes, 9 months after 1st word here"

  • sandra October 6, 2008 (4:36 pm)

    The proliferation of huge Mc Mansions in West Seattle has been very upsetting. Neighbors–including neighbors on my street– have lost sunlight, privacy, and (sometimes) views. Hopefully this new legislation will improve the situation. We’ll see.

  • mike October 6, 2008 (4:49 pm)

    5) waiving
    parking requirements on lots of less than 3,000 square feet, thereby
    reducing the prominence of a garage as part of a structure.

    Brilliant! What we need is less garages so that there are more cars on the street. Pure genius… I’m sure the neighbors affected by “mcmansions” would not be happy with this either. Ontop of that <3000 sq feet is not a mansion its a townhome, which is already a high density building.

  • B-squared October 6, 2008 (5:14 pm)

    Mike: i agree, but people don’t seem to even use the garages they have. the garages are usually full of crap that doesn’t fit in the house, and/or the garage isn’t big enough for their monster vehicles. or like me, the garage was, long ago, converted to a bedroom. at a minimum, people should have to have a place off street for their car, even if it is just a slab on their property.

  • enginerd October 6, 2008 (5:26 pm)

    I believe article 5 is refering to LOT size, not Living Space… a 3000 sq. ft. lot is fairly small, but not uncommon in WS.

  • design nulu October 6, 2008 (6:02 pm)

    Article 5 makes no sense and will lead to more bad housing.
    The common single family zones in West Seattle are SF 5000 and SF 7200 square feet. Grandfathered lots typically 2500 square feet are sites for the notorious “skinny” houses sprouting up all over, often times homeowners selling their side yard. They have similar height restrictions as other houses, but due to those s narrow 25 X 100 foot lots they must hug the setback at 5 feet and place the garage all across the front. They create the same “lost sunlight, privacy, and (sometimes) views” as the McMansions. The primary difference being their miniscule front yards will look like parking lots and the available street parking will disappear. At least the mark of a Mcmansion is the ability to park at least 3 cars inside their garage.

  • mellaw6565 October 6, 2008 (9:48 pm)

    Typical City Council here – pick on the single homeowners, but allow the townhome developers to litter our neighbors with tall structures that drown out sunlight, privacy, etc…..Why is it that they continue to get all the perks and privileges in this city? How about putting more limits on them?

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