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November 22, 2005

Proposal to Legalize Granny Flats in SE Seattle

Good news on the smart-growth front: Seattle's mayor is working on a pilot program to legalize granny flats in southeast Seattle.

Currently residents of single-family neighborhoods can't rent out extra space they may have in "detached accessory dwelling units", such as an apartment above their garage, although basement apartments are legal.

Granny flats provide a variety of benefits. They increase density, supporting better transit and more services for the neighborhood. They increase the housing supply and create affordable housing in the city. They can give homeowners a source of income to help with the mortgage. And, with kids returning to the nest post-college and aging parents needing more care, they provide extra space with a degree of privacy.

The program would limit the impact on neighbors by requiring one off-street parking space per unit and restricting the size of the new units. Reactions to a demonstration project in Magnolia, in which a wheelchair-bound resident added an apartment for a future live-in nurse, were very positive: 65 percent of surveyed neighbors rated the project "good". While some are worried that allowing rental granny flats will turn neighborhoods into "ghettos," (huh!?) that doesn't seem to be the case in cities that already allow them, such as Mercer Island, Kirkland, and Redmond.

Posted by Jessica Branom-Zwick | Permalink


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Posted by: Dan Staley | Nov 22, 2005 12:31:12 PM

Read the P-I article.

Posted by: David Sucher | Nov 22, 2005 7:08:31 PM

ADU, or accessory dwelling units, are allowed by right in the Portland metro area per Metro code. There are restrictions as to size relative to main housing unit and, if there is division of existing building, percent that may be subdivided. Each city has their own quirks but all must allow ADU's to be built on any legal lot.

We are seeing lots going in, some permitted, some not, (the SDC's--service development charges--can be disproportionately high for units typically housing only one person) in our inner city, desirable neighborhood. I built one of the first legal units in our backyard. Works very well for us. I know of 4 more within two blocks. The rent helps with mortgage and taxes, we have people around to watch the place when we are out of town and maybe when the boys move back after their adventures, my partner and I can live out back and babysit the grandchildren.

As for off street parking: except for the densest neighborhoods in Portland, the one thing we don't lack is concrete/asphalt. Even in our location, we don't have off street parking for either our home or our ADU and we rarely have to park away from in front of the house. NO MORE CONCRETE! In addition, all the cars parked on the street calms traffic and makes the neighborhood safer and quieter.

Posted by: rex Burkholder | Nov 24, 2005 1:01:57 PM