Seattle's Backyard Cottages Encouraged

Don't call them granny flats or inlaw units! These are separate units that can only be built on lots of 4,000 sq. ft. minimum. Only 50 have been built or permitted since the trial began in 2006. The goal is to bring affordabllity to SFH neighborhoods

The Seattle City Council supported them as a means to bring infill and modest densification to Single-Family-Home neighborhoods where traditional multifamiliy housing would be incompatible. Yet as the article points out, neighbors may resist even these modest changes. On top of the usual parking issues, an architect notes privacy infringement for guests who might wish to "walk around naked", and an arborist states it would "decimated the urban forest".

"It's harder and harder for working people to live in the city," says former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels, now a fellow at the Harvard University Institute of Politics."

"Nickels had been intrigued by the idea of backyard cottages for decades before he became Seattle's mayor in 2002 and made it a priority. Opponents argued that it would double the city's density, he recalls, but he felt "there was no excuse other than political cowardice not to move forward."

"Other cities such as Denver and Faribault, Minn., are allowing for the first time or expanding programs that encourage backyard residences to accommodate growing demand for affordable housing in the wake of the recession and foreclosure crisis."

Full Story: Seattle's backyard cottages make a dent in housing need


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