Councilmember Clark left office on April 14, 2015.
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Backyard cottage consideration begins


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The waiting is over – backyard cottages legislation has arrived and is in play.

In a nutshell, the proposal delivered to Council would take the rules in place in Southeast Seattle since 2006 and expand them out to the whole city. You would be eligible to build a backyard cottage if:

  1. You’re in single-family zoning;You have a lot that is at least 4,000 square feet in area;
  2. You haven’t (and won’t ultimately) exceed the 35 percent lot coverage limit;
  3. Your cottage wouldn’t cover more than 40 percent of your backyard; and
  4. Your proposed cottage doesn’t exceed 800 square feet total.

There are also rules about height that connect with the width of the lot (you could get up to 23 feet if you have a lot at least 40 feet wide) and another that would cap the number of new ones at 50 per year.

So far I’ve been on three detached accessory dwelling unit tours, two in Southeast of newly built cottages and one in North Seattle of cottages that have been around for decades. I have approximately six to see in Southeast before I will have seen the whole crop of cottages that have sprung up since 2006. So far, some are fantastic looking, some are less fantastic (perhaps mediocre) looking. Kind of like homes in general. The ones with the biggest visual impact for me so far have been the full two-story cottages. I have to admit – they look big. Maybe too big? Maybe 800 square feet is too much? Maybe 23 feet is too high? Maybe it’s just those two numbers together?

The proposal was unveiled to the Council at this morning’s Planning, Land Use & Neighborhoods Committee. The committee plan going forward is for a follow-up discussion about the proposal at PLUNC’s September 9 meeting, then a public hearing Council Chambers the evening of September 15. The earliest possible date for a committee vote would be Sept. 23. I don’t know if we’ll be ready to vote by then. We’ll see what happens in committee on Sept. 9 and then at the public hearing.

OK, and yes, I did insist on driving the van for the tour we did in Southeast yesterday. I did, I confess, scrape the side of the van when turning to enter the Sea Park Garage Downtown. It’s a big van and a tight turn and I was focused on not hitting the yellow pole in front. Instead I scraped the side of the door. Oops. Sorry, taxpayers.

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