Townhouse talk tonight: City Council committee in West Seattle

Will Seattle’s future townhouses transcend the dominant design critiqued in that city photo/graphic? City Councilmember Sally Clark hopes so. Tonight — almost one full year after she, Mayor Nickels and West Seattle architect Brandon Nicholson stood together at the Capitol Hill announcement (July 2008 WSB coverage here) of the proposal to change the Multi-Family Code, particularly as it affects townhouse design, the committee Clark chairs brings the topic to West Seattle. At 6 pm at Youngstown Arts Center, her Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee convenes a “review and discussion of issues surrounding townhouses and other low-rise housing.” Those issues are detailed in this 12-page memo, if you have time for a little advance studying – after which, if you have something to say, tonight’s agenda has room for it, with a full hour set aside for public comment. (And if you want to check on the status of the entire Multi-Family Code proposal, that’s all here.)

5 Replies to "Townhouse talk tonight: City Council committee in West Seattle"

  • wseye June 30, 2009 (9:29 am)

    What gives me concern is that Sally Clark’s political career is funded by a Who’s Who of developers in the city:

    I wish we had a different Councilmember handling this very significant issue. The current townhouse guidelines are highly flawed, and I fear she is working to save her friends from a serious and meaningful change to the city code – to the detriment of our neighborhoods.

  • Patrick June 30, 2009 (11:16 am)

    Regardless of who her contributors are, I trust Sally Clark to do her best to improve the code for townhouse development. But I do think we all have to be realistic and not expect too much. As the city grows more dense, we’re going to see more and more townhouse developments built. And using premium materials or innovative architecture just isn’t going to pencil out for the vast majority of them. Hopefully new guidelines like the ones mentioned in the photo above, along with more people on the design review committees with good taste and actual architecture/design experience, will at least help them be more aesthetically pleasing in general.

  • alki_2008 June 30, 2009 (11:21 am)

    This one jumped out at me: “Eliminate parking requirements for multifamily development in urban centers and station area overlay districts”. What!? Sure, not having to build a garage will make it a lot easier to make a nice looking design…not that many TH owners can get into their garages now anyway.

  • wseye June 30, 2009 (11:48 am)

    “be realistic and not expect too much”

    I’m not going to stoop that low, Patrick. It is realistic to expect our civic leaders to do the right think and ensure that we get townhouses that are of a quality that enhances our community. Why is it that almost every city in the country has better quality townhouse development than we do in Seattle? It isn’t by chance: we have the foxes guarding the henhouse. The Seattle Municipal Code has very badly written regulations on townhouse development and they need to be changed before it is to late. If Portland can do it, we sure can do it as well.

  • WSratsinacage June 30, 2009 (12:07 pm)

    Yeah, love those “useable” driveways and garages! Just say no to townhomes or these designs anyway. Oh yeah, myself and many others have, over the years, didn’t do much good though.
    BTW, Americans have loved the automobile for about 100 years and show no sign of breaking the habit, especially in this city with its mass transit avoidance / issues. Better come up with a plan to build useable garages / parking spaces or we will have (already have?) parking problems like Capitol Hill/Queen Anne. It’s going to happen with pro density administration / when you park 8 units into a lot that use to be a single family home. Sounds like fun!

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