City tees up next step toward taking ‘single-family zoning’ designation off the map

If you live in a single-family home within the city limits, the land it sits on is likely zoned SF 5000, SF 7200, or SF 9600. Those names will go away under a city proposal unveiled in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin. The city already is in the process of changing neighborhood plans to show “neighborhood residential” as the new name for areas that had been “single-family’; now it’s planning to change the actual zoning designations citywide. The notice is an early alert that the City Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee will hold a public hearing next month. Here’s what the proposal would do:

• Single-Family 9600 (SF 9600) zones would be renamed “Neighborhood Residential 1” (NR1);

• Single-Family 7200 (SF 7200) zones would be renamed “Neighborhood Residential 2” (NR2);

• Single-Family 5000 (SF 5000) zones would be renamed “Neighborhood Residential 3” (NR3); and

• Residential Small Lot (RSL) zones would be renamed “Neighborhood Residential Small Lot” (RSL).

Zoning district names would be updated on the zoning map and in the Land Use Code (Title 23 of the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC)), short-term rental regulations (SMC 6.600), traffic administration regulations (SMC 11.16), street use regulations (SMC Title 15), building and construction codes (SMC Title 22), and environmental regulations (SMC Title 25).

Though there’s talk of eventually changing the actual zoning, all this does for now is change the names. The public hearing is planned for the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee’s 9:30 am meeting on December 8th; you’ll find the agenda here when it get s closer. In the meantime, you can read the entire 218-page bill here. You can also email comments through December 7th to Noah An in the office of Land Use/Neighborhoods chair Councilmember Dan Strauss; is the address.

41 Replies to "City tees up next step toward taking 'single-family zoning' designation off the map"

  • WSCurmudgeon November 9, 2021 (2:55 am)

    O, be some other name!

    What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

    By any other name would smell as sweet …

    — Noted urban planner Bill Shakespeare (ca. 1595)

    • Lisab November 9, 2021 (9:55 am)


  • Graciano November 9, 2021 (3:36 am)

    Seattle City Consul has bigger issues then renaming the residential zoning… These elected officials are wasting our tax dollars…  Time vote them OUT!

  • Jim November 9, 2021 (6:23 am)

    Now in a couple years when they put it on the ballot to get rid of single families owning people won’t fully understand what they’re voting for until it’s too late

    • Jethro Marx November 9, 2021 (12:51 pm)

      Regardless of how it appears on the ballot, I do not support single families (or even groups of families) owning people.

      • Jim November 9, 2021 (3:19 pm)

        What are you even talking about?! Single family zoning is a good thing. If it wasn’t for these crippling property taxes more people would be able to afford a home and not have to just live in an apartment. Neighborhoods that were once not the nicest but were affordable have been torn down in overpriced condos and apartment buildings put in their place

        • Jort November 10, 2021 (1:20 am)

          But no human should be owned. Slavery is not only illegal it’s immoral. This is clearly government excess – we don’t need a ballot initiative to ban single families from owning people, it’s already written into the U.S. constitution. 

        • CJ November 10, 2021 (2:08 pm)

          You wrote “single families owning people” in your comment. That’s what Jethro Marx is talking about. Whatever you meant by that, that’s what you wrote.

  • Derek November 9, 2021 (6:36 am)

    Yessss! More of this! SFH has to GO. More and more density please! Need 👏 more 👏 affordable 👏 housing!!

  • Dani November 9, 2021 (6:48 am)

    Call me skeptical but the long term goal is to allow high density , tall buildings within any and all single family neighborhoods let’s see if that implementation happens in wealthier single family or just middle class neighborhoods lord i detest the CC

  • Really? November 9, 2021 (7:14 am)

    This would be the definition of wasting government resources.  This does not add any value whatsoever to how our government governs.  SMH 

  • eric November 9, 2021 (7:18 am)

    After the city council’s stupid decisions (thank Herbold, Sawant, Mosqueda, Juarez, Gonzales) that resulted in rents skyrocketing and huge loses of rental supply, they now hope (thru a backdoor solution) to lure single family houses into adding duplexes, backyard apts, and such, in hopes of bringing the rental (houses) supply back to what it was in 2015.  Oh yeah, this is gonna be great. NOT.

    • WSB November 9, 2021 (9:24 am)

      Backyard “accessory dwelling units” actually have been approved for quite some time and there’s been a building boom. Almost more common to see new houses built two to a lot, and they’re sold separately by setting up a condominium situation (happened on our block with an existing SFH and a new small DADU built behind it, then sold separately under a condominium arrangement) – TR

    • Agreed November 9, 2021 (11:45 am)

      Absolutely agree Eric.  Sadly it’s time to leave. This will get much worse before there’s any chance of it getting better. 

    • Jort November 10, 2021 (1:23 am)

      Oh, you added the names of a bunch of women to your parenthetical about the makeup of the council but did you also want to add Bruce Harrell to your list? He was, after all, on the city council from 2008 to 2020 (last year, as in one year less than this year). Oh wait, isn’t he a “radical outsider” now or something? Right.

  • Tar N Feather November 9, 2021 (7:53 am)

    And so it begins…

  • WS Taxpayer November 9, 2021 (7:56 am)

    Control the language, control the argument.  

    • Ron Swanson November 9, 2021 (9:01 am)

      Yep, that’s exactly what the racist, classist “single family” language did.  Good to see progress in removing that bit of 1920s social engineering in name, if not in substance yet.

      • Gatewood resident November 9, 2021 (7:54 pm)

        Families are racist and classist? 

      • WW Resident November 9, 2021 (9:25 pm)

        LMAO, I can’t wait to tell my black neighbors, my Mexican immigrant neighbors, my Filipino neighbors how racist and classist they are. Oh shoot, while I’m at it, I better tell my immigrant non white wife too! 

  • James November 9, 2021 (8:58 am)

    This is a good thing. Density time. We’re a big city now. Plenty of SFH in the ‘burbs. 

    • nonni November 9, 2021 (10:50 am)

      Tell me what you, personally, love about big city livin’.I left Chicago to escape the regular stripping of mirrors, tires, batteries from our cars,Random gunfire, drug deals in the alley, domestic violence and child abuse upstairs, downstairs, across the street (density breeds irritability– humans shouldn’t be crammed in on top of one another).Two murders on my block within a calendar year. Muggings, carjackings…Seattle was “quaint” 30 years ago, by comparison. At least Chicago offered world class museums to offset the uglier side of cosmopolitan status. And rent was a lot cheaper there.

      • Smoosh November 9, 2021 (11:27 am)

        Why are you in this neighborhood blog if you don’t live here or like our city?

        • nonni November 10, 2021 (10:20 am)

          Um, I DO live here (Highland Park) and I still like Seattle. I am simply mournful that the push to grow up into a world class city brings seems to accelerate the robustness of the seamy underside of big city living.

      • Recent transplant November 10, 2021 (1:48 pm)

        So you’re saying that, after you moved here from Chicago, Seattle should have closed its door to new residents? Because people who live in densely packed cities and apartment buildings are inherently less moral than people who live in detached homes?I understand that you miss the way things were. But Seattle is great, and great cities don’t stay the same size. They grow and find new ways to include more people, more diversity and more ideas. Maybe there are other ways to not become what Chicago was 30 years ago. 

    • StopCuttingDownTrees November 9, 2021 (11:09 am)

      Uh, West Seattle IS “the burbs”. Seattle’s single-family, residential neighborhoods are simply suburbs of the inner-city. Bellevue, Burien, Shoreline, Mercer Island, etc, are “edge cities”, not suburbs. Here in Arbor Heights we don’t even have sidewalks and we certainly don’t want beehive apartment complexes and row houses. People can rent those on California Avenue or move downtown if they prefer high-density.

  • dmb November 9, 2021 (8:58 am)

    When they say they want equity they mean they want the equity in your house.

    • anonyme November 9, 2021 (12:05 pm)

      Great observation.

  • bradley November 9, 2021 (8:59 am)

    “Let’s reinvent the Wheel”.

  • Jay November 9, 2021 (9:55 am)

    Don’t rename it, just delete the zoning. This is performative and doesn’t nothing to relieve pressure on the housing market.

  • Auntie November 9, 2021 (11:06 am)

    And what will they call areas such as Laurelhurst and Broadview – something that exempts them from having any multi-family dwellings built in their little enclaves, I’m sure. Stack ’em high and pack ’em in on Delridge, but don’t even think about it in Windermere!

    • WSB November 9, 2021 (11:10 am)

      Same thing. If it’s SF, wherever it is, the new names will apply citywide.

  • Ice November 9, 2021 (11:18 am)

     Even if we got rid of single family zoning today and said BUILD WHATEVER YOU WANT WHERE YOU WANT, it would take decades before most neighborhoods get noticeably denser. Seattle passed the urban village density thing in the 90s and only in the last 10 years have we seen big changes to that relatively limited area that was upzoned. If the whole city was hypothetically upzoned, the changes would be a lot more diffuse and less noticeable. 

  • anonyme November 9, 2021 (12:17 pm)

    It’s clear the council wants to eliminate single-family zoning.  Instead of just going for it in a truthful, direct way they’re posturing their way through multiple, convoluted phases of dishonest, expensive, time-wasting, nomenclature niggling nonsense.  What is less clear is whether or not most homeowners across Seattle want this, and they are being left out of the deliberations.  A public hearing (or undocumented email) does not provide adequate input for this decision.  This requires a vote. What is the council so afraid of?

  • Joe Z November 9, 2021 (3:08 pm)

    If they want to remove systemic racism from zoning, then every Seattle neighborhood should be subject to the same zoning policies as the Central District. 

    • Rhonda November 9, 2021 (7:58 pm)

      The Central District is loaded with single-family zoning. 

  • 1994 November 9, 2021 (10:54 pm)

    So much for ‘plain talk’ for governing Seattle City Council style. Single Family is pretty clear while Neighborhood Residential is not.  

  • Jort November 10, 2021 (1:27 am)

    This thread is a great example of how threatened and fragile people are when confronted with how systemic racism in zoning policy has largely benefited white people with generational wealth accumulation. It’s also a great example of how even symbolic, performative liberal virtue signaling like policy document name-changes can generate the aforementioned intense, spittle-laden reactionary freak-outs from “In This House” liberals who will do nearly anything to increase the value of their real estate investments. I love how people are asking for a public vote about this procedural change to policy documents. This is liberal performative virtue signaling and you people are still freaking out like the bulldozers are headed for your house!

    • StopCuttingDownTrees November 10, 2021 (12:39 pm)

      Our new Mayor-elect, Bruce Harrell, campaigned on keeping single-family zoning so families of color can enjoy the generational wealth that comes from owning a home in a SF 5000, SF 7200, or SF 9600 zone. He wants to preserve not just the diverse neighborhood he grew up in, but all SF-zoned Seattle neighborhoods which have an increasing number of minority home owners. He was elected by not just a landslide, but an earthquake.

      • WS resident November 12, 2021 (9:53 am)

        Bruce Harrell wants to improve racial equity by maintaining the same systems that created and propagated the inequity in the first place? That does not make sense. There’s nothing about single family homes that makes it better for maintaining generational wealth than condos or townhomes. But more housing supply does lead to lower prices. 

    • Julian November 12, 2021 (8:17 am)

      You seem to be having quite the reaction yourself here especially compared to everything else posted so far….

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