Out: ‘Microhousing.’ In: ‘SEDU.’ And it’s your turn to comment

The word “microhousing” does not appear anywhere in the brand-new official city notice announcing that it’s your turn to comment on the revised proposed city rules for it. That notice, published today, and includes the toplines of the latest changes in the rules the City Council is considering, including the new official name “SEDU”:

*Creates a definition for small efficiency dwelling units (SEDU).

*Clarifies the definition of dwelling unit.

*Establishes required components of SEDUs, including a 150-square-foot minimum sleeping room area, a 220 square foot minimum total floor area, a food preparation area (sink, refrigerator, countertop, cooking appliance) and a bathroom (sink, toilet, shower or bathtub).

*Limits the issuance of Restricted Parking Zone permits to no more than one per
SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires Streamlined Design Review to be applied, in all zones, to congregate
residences and residential uses that are more than 50 percent comprised of SEDUs if they contain between 5,000 and 11,999 square feet of gross floor area.

*Limits the construction of congregate residences that do not meet certain ownership or operational requirements to higher density zones that are located within Urban Centers and Urban Villages

*Increases the minimum required area of communal space in a congregate residence
from 10 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms to 15 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms.

*Creates a new vehicle parking requirement of one parking space for every two
SEDUs for areas of the City where vehicle parking is required for multifamily residential uses.

*Increases bicycle parking requirements for SEDUs and congregate residences to 0.75 bicycle spaces per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires the bicycle parking required for SEDUs and congregate residences to be covered for weather protection.

*Allows required, covered bicycle parking for SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms to be exempt from Floor Area Ratio limits if the required parking is located inside the building that contains the SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms.

*Calls on the Department of Planning and Development to complete an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements and present its recommendations for regulatory changes to the City Council by no later than March 31, 2015.

That last point, as mentioned in our coverage last week, goes beyond microhousing.

So if you have something to say about any of this, say it now – in e-mail or postal mail to Councilmember Mike O’Brien, mike.obrien@seattle.gov (the postal address is in today’s notice seeking comment), before October 6th. Again, what’s above is an excerpt from today’s notice, highlighting recent changes in the proposed microhousing (SEDU) rules. You can see the entire Council Bill by going here.

SIDE NOTE: In case you’ve lost track – two microhousing projects have opened in West Seattle, at 4546 Delridge Way SW (file photo above) and 3266 SW Avalon Way, with at least three more planned – 3268 SW Avalon Way, 5949 California SW, and 3050 SW Avalon Way.

28 Replies to "Out: 'Microhousing.' In: 'SEDU.' And it's your turn to comment"

  • Phoebe September 22, 2014 (9:43 am)

    Thank you WSB for keeping us up to date and connected to the city council’s planning process for regulating microhousing/SEDU developments. This is a huge issue that will change the landscape of Seattle, for better or worse, and our input can impact the outcome. Make your voice heard and send your comments, let’s not let a few outspoken developers make decisions for the rest of us.

  • Planet Unknown September 22, 2014 (10:22 am)

    I love how they are try to slide this trough with out the public’s knowledge. .75 bicycle spots per unit, what a joke, this is a give away to developers always has been one, it reduces the developer’s cost as they don’t have to build an expensive parking garage. This not the city I want to live in any longer.

  • heather September 22, 2014 (11:00 am)

    Planet Unknown – I believe you’re incorrect. I understood the wording to say that the planning for bicycles will increase to .75 per, the previous building codes must have been lower than .75. The number may look weird but <1 is not unusual when planning (architectural adherence to city building codes) for a large building project.

  • heather September 22, 2014 (11:02 am)

    I really appreciate the coverage on this.

  • Planet Unknwn September 22, 2014 (1:01 pm)


    It is a give away as developers can build units without providing parking and thus taking the spots in front of my house. Covered parking for a bike is much cheaper than an underground parking garage. This was garbage when it first passsed and is now adding give always to special interest groups(bikes).

  • Lindsey September 22, 2014 (1:27 pm)

    Again, because apparently it needs to be said, the spots in front of your house do not belong to you. They belong to the city, AKA everyone.

  • Diane September 22, 2014 (1:48 pm)

    the bicycle parking requirement is not directly connected to the zero parking requirement, but certainly one of the after-effects; the city passed the zero parking law/rule a few years ago that gave away parking requirements; that was in fact a HUGE giveaway to developers, and based on that and other loopholes, they’ve already built about 4,000 microhousing units around the city, making huge profits (due to tax exemptions, not having to build parking, not having to build elevators, not having to go through design reviews, building teensy/tiny units, charging insane not-affordable rents); this new bike parking is the opposite of giveaway to developers; this new amendment requires developers to provide covered bike parking in order to attract tenants who really do not drive or have cars, who really do ride bicycles as their primary transportation, and hopefully there will be fewer tenants parking their cars on city streets (which they have every right to do; city streets are public, owned by all of us, not just home owners); we all knew people would still have cars in these microhousing projects, and the developers knew it; when they built Footprint on Delridge, they actually advertised “lots of easy free street parking nearby”; I’m not kidding; clearly the evidence is showing that microhousing tenants have plenty of cars and are parking on nearby streets, because the city not only allowed, but welcomed developers to build without providing any on-site parking; this bike parking requirement will add a tiny extra cost to developers, which of course they will complain about, and hopefully will not use this new “amenity” to charge tenants a bike parking fee (keep your eyes out for that one); basically, I see it as more of a band-aid after the insane original zero-parking law

  • wetone September 22, 2014 (1:51 pm)

    Lindsey, better not push that idea to much, people will start selling off their cars and property values will go down as no one will want to live in these areas. The city revenue will drop and then they will have to start licensing bicyclist and their bikes, along with raising transit fares and rents to pay the increased taxes for the lost revenue and we sure don’t want that .)

  • Born on Alki September 22, 2014 (1:57 pm)

    So there you have it Planet Unknown. The parking spots belong to everyone, and tenants of these units will only ride .75 of a bicycle anyways. None will drive vehicles and most will take the Rapid Ride system that works so well. Who cares if you will never be able to find a spot to park within 6-8 blocks of home? Who cares if long established elderly residents can’t park near home? Sounds like great exercise to me. Welcome to the new “Californiacated” West Seattle. One I cant wait to leave.

  • ChefJoe September 22, 2014 (3:20 pm)

    Sure, the street parking in front of your house isn’t yours. But it’s sure annoying when you can’t find anywhere near your house after years of doing so (and paying the property tax on the land).

    Want to change it ? Organize neighborhoods to park in front of the mayor/city council member’s homes preferentially, even if it’s a block or two away from home. I’m sure CMTom would see the light.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 22, 2014 (3:37 pm)

    In regards to complaints of having trouble parking near home, what percentage of people have driveways and garages? I heard some people on my bus last week aggressively complain that their block had parking problems in the night. I was surprised, since that block is dead when I drive, walk, or bike it in the day time.
    That night i drove that block at 9pm or so, and yep, it’s wall to wall cars.
    Yet nearly every single driveway was empty…

  • Joe Szilagyi September 22, 2014 (3:38 pm)

    @Chefjoe: “and paying the property tax on the land”
    Just to be pedantic, we don’t pay property taxes on our curb space. I do pay taxes on my driveway and garage, which each can hold one car (if I cleaned out my garage). And yes, you would be free to park there, in front of Councilmember Rasmussen or Mayor Murray’s house. Or in front of my house.
    That’s the way it works, unless we wanted to RPZ every inch of residential zoned blocks in the city. If we wanted to go down that road, sure: you get a guaranteed free space or two most days at least NEAR your house (not in front, you don’t get dedicated curb rights under any circumstances unless you’re the US President). But if you go down that can of worms, it’s an exceptionally deep can of worms full of unintended consequences.

  • Elizagrace September 22, 2014 (3:42 pm)

    There are actually cases when the spot in front of your house is actually owned by the homeowner.

    We live on a private road that is maintained by the homeowners and the parking spots are part of our property line. It also happens to butt up against a popular park so the summertime can be quite confusing for people when they see signs that say “private road” or “no parking”.

    It is never a huge issue, we can leave a note, park in the shared driveway and negotiate cars moving with our neighbors, but it can be a pain as parking is always limited. Our property only extends to one spot, so when people park there it creates a snowball effect on the whole block and can really create a headache for the homeowners.

    • WSB September 22, 2014 (3:47 pm)

      Thanks, E! Hope the “private road” sign is prominent enough that people know.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 22, 2014 (3:53 pm)

    For sure, on private roads that is always the case. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard even a single anecdote about a single privately owned space on any public roads in the city, though. I guess if you got legal clearance on a public road to create a huge bus-bulb shaped indentation into your yard (and maintained the legally required public sidewalk right of way on the planting strip) you could do it like your own personal rest stop or parking lot.

  • Elizagrace September 22, 2014 (4:04 pm)

    We do see a good number of cars start to park, notice the sign and turn around which is really considerate and then there are the people who see it and ignore it… such is life.

    It isn’t common to see privately owned roads, but they do exist and we aren’t just being jerks/elitist/parking hogs – it is just how the property lines work :) Promise!!

  • twobottles September 22, 2014 (4:42 pm)

    I wonder how many hours/committee meetings/emails/memos/overpaid MBAs it took to take a name, “microhousing” that we all know and understand, and turn it into unimaginative, uninspired and difficult to remember acronym like “SEDU”?

  • Diane September 22, 2014 (5:24 pm)

    funny twobottles; agree

  • CeeBee September 22, 2014 (8:31 pm)

    The name SEDU was ripped directly from an existing DPD Directors Rule released in 2004 (Directors Rule 6-2004). Members on CM O’Brien’s stakeholder group thought that since the city already allowed the Small Efficiency Dwelling Units, that the simple solution was just to use that existing housing type and tweak it a bit.
    What is taking the extra effort is the other type of housing created by this legislation, the “Private Market Congregate”, which is really what the old term micro housing stood for (multiple bedrooms around shared amenities like a kitchen). People keep forgetting that the congregate definition will now be expanded to allow the private market to continue to build micro rooms of 70 sq feet.

  • Mike September 22, 2014 (9:33 pm)

    Just remember there’s a limit of 72 hours for parking curb side. If you see a car parked for longer, report it and have it towed. The impound fee will get their attention really quick.

  • bill bradburd September 22, 2014 (11:04 pm)

    …and the EDU (efficiency dwelling unit) part of that comes from the Building Code. the stuff that, you know, the micro-housing developers and DPD overlooked…

    and the Private Market Congregate is really just the old SRO – single room occupancy housing. what’s old is new again…

  • Bruce September 22, 2014 (11:46 pm)

    Might not be bad, if they limited them to the blocks immediately around light rail and major rapid ride stops, so occupants wouldn’t need a car to add to traffic woes and increase transit use. I hope they will ban them from single family housing neighborhoods.

  • wetone September 23, 2014 (12:05 am)

    Tracy how can the WSB use that info with a straight face ? makes zero sense. All one has to do is look at who did the studies and drive around to see how one sided they are. A person that has multiple cars and or trucks a motorcycle or scooter all need to pay a licensing fee for each. Larger trucks along with scooters 50cc up and motorcycles requires special training and endorsements added to drivers license which cost extra money. Then you have fuel used by these vehicles, revenue for roads and infrastructure. How about housing in the city are you going to say a family home with no parking is a sellable property and worth the same as a house that has parking ? or a person that lives in a podment pays the same tax percentage as a homeowner ? better do some home work. But a bike rider that uses their bike for commuting pays the same portion ? impossible and makes zero common sense, but this is Seattle. I’m sure our new SDOT front man will backs those studies 100% :)

  • John September 23, 2014 (8:57 am)

    @ WSB,
    Thank-you for “fact correcting” Wetone.

    @ Joe Szilagyi,
    Thanks for consistently and thoughtfully expressing the unpopular facts about parking.

    Where do you get your “facts?”

    Diane, “they’ve already built about 4,000 microhousing units around the city”

    Seattle Times August 23 2014
    “DPD estimates it has approved 43 building-permit applications submitted since 2010 for micro-apartment projects, including 15 in 2013. Of those, 22 are complete, accounting for nearly 1,000 new homes. Another 25 projects await permits.”

  • John September 23, 2014 (12:05 pm)

    Yes those are the rules and how it works in theory.
    But, due to low priority, this is not proactively enforced and Parking Enforcement takes days to respond.
    When parking enforcement finally arrives it simply places a 72 hour notice on the vehicle windshield.
    At that time the owner still has a least 72 hours to move the vehicle.
    And when the vehicle is moved the whole charade starts anew, with someone having to report the violation.
    Assuming someone parks the legal 72 hours (3days) before getting reported, SPD Parking takes another several days and the warning sticker allowing another 3 days, it is at least a week, usually more that one is realistically able to park.

  • buckwheat September 23, 2014 (1:28 pm)

    Changing the name from microhousing to SEDU is like putting lipstick on a pig; it is still a pig. The DPD and city council are crapping on west Seattle by dumping this crap on Avalon. It is going to be one big mess. Remember, when it is time to vote for your district council person, vote wisely otherwise you are going to get the same crap…

  • Nick September 26, 2014 (10:19 am)

    Two Bottles – The only reason they changed the name is because of all the negative connotations that surround “Micro-Housing”. It’s all a joke. The same way phillip morris and comcast changed their names for “rebranding”. They hope dumb people aren’t listening or won’t notice. I just don’t understand who they think is going to live in all of these for any real amount of time? College kids who’s rent is paid pay their parents so they get a closet sized room for $700 a month and share a kitchen with 7 other residences? It’s reprehensible. City’s do not soley exisit so developers can reap insane profits. I guess after the Amazon employees they keep importing to this city stay in their closet for a year or so and meet someone, maybe want to start a family, they’ll just have to move else where. Like another city.

Sorry, comment time is over.