LDMRs and 'Air Condos' in Puget Sound

Snohomish County, Wash., officials are tussling with local city governments and fire-department officials over regulation of so-called "air condo" developments sprouting in the county's unincorporated areas.

"The developments' closely packed, single-family homes are similar to condos, except the dwellings don't share walls. The houses are owned individually, but common space, including roads, is owned and managed condo-style by all of the residents through a homeowner's association. They're often dubbed 'air condos' because homeowners own only the space inside their walls. They've also been called 'LDMRs' after the zoning -- Low Density Multiple Residential -- where they're most often built."

From the KnowledgePlex summary: "Builders and some home buyers praise the developments, saying they provide affordable housing in a community-building setting. But according to some neighbors and local city and fire-department officials, the developments are aesthetically unappealing and potentially hazardous, with inadequate space between dwellings to accommodate fire safety equipment. By unanimous vote, the county council passed a set of regulations backed by builders, fire chiefs, and the council chairman."

Thanks to KnowledgePlex

Full Story: Tightly packed "air condos" rile critics



10 feet between houses is pretty typical...

in a lot of subdivisions, even those not considered 'air condos'. My first house was a typical suburban tract house with a 5' setback on either side. We did have a typical front and back yard, I guess that's what is different about these. But, if there is common open space that is easily accessible, do you really need a yard?

As for the emergency response and services, I think standards are set for this at way too high of a level. What makes a community walkable and attractive also may inhibit a fire truck, but there can be a balance. Designing streets to handle multiple fire trucks, etc. is overkill in most situations.

These are the market providing a need (workforce housing) without government subsidies. They should set minimum standards for public safety, but not so onerous that they prohibit this type of development.

Just my thoughts.

Street standards, not house separation.

    Mukilteo City Council member Marco Liias said alternatives need to be found as an anticipated 1.5 million people move into the Puget Sound region in the next 20 years.

    "Developments like we see going in really erode the public's confidence that we can effectively deal with that future," Liias said.

Sounds like the county let them build private roads, which likely only need to be 20ft of pavement. SnohoCo is notorious for this type of thing - growth drives their boat, not quality places. And things are let go.

Anyway, Fire is concerned about road width and getting people out, and they should be. And everyone else (Fire too, surely) is concerned about where they're going to put all these people and how they are going to afford a place to live. And how to move these people around.

There are no easy answers to the question of where are we going to put all these people.



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