Seattle council to take comments on micro-housing

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by JANET KIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @JanetKimK5

KING5.com

Posted on May 18, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Updated Sunday, May 18 at 7:03 PM

As affordable housing becomes harder to find in Seattle, developers are coming up with new ideas. One of them is micro-housing, which is a relatively new concept drawing mixed reaction.

Micro-housing is a housing unit the size of a single bedroom, where common areas are shared. Supporters say it gives people an affordable option, but opponents argue it's just creating new issues. The Seattle City Council is set to discuss regulations and hear from the public Monday.

Neighbors opposed to the micro-housing development currently under construction in Ballard said they were never notified of the plans. it’s one of the issues city leaders will address during the public hearing.

"The city let this go through without any kind of notification; they gave us not any," said Barbara Deppe, who lives next door to the micro-housing development in Ballard.

The “micro-housing” homes are eight units per floor that are about 120 square feet in size. They are currently being built under the code made for townhomes.

"It is over-sized, but the issue is a lack of parking," said Omar Mustafa, who lives next door to one of the micro-housing developments in Ballard. "This neighborhood is already crowded as is; I just don’t know where everyone is going to park here."

City leaders like Seattle City Councilman Mike O'Brien believe the micro-housing is an innovative idea that addresses affordable housing concerns. However, he acknowledges specific regulations don’t exist for this particular housing development. It’s why council wants to hear from the public to guide their decisions moving forward.

"The city is doing the best we can to figure out how to regulate them, but this is clearly a new housing type and we want to create a spot in the code where micro-housing exists and define what the rules are around that," said O'Brien.
 
Some specific regulations being considered will address parking and the size of the building and units. 

Rent can start around $600 a month, and city leaders tell me the units are filling up fast, showing the need for affordable housing.

So far, a couple of thousand of micro-housing units have either been built or under construction in Seattle. Permits already filed will be able to move forward until council comes up with new regulations, which could be as early as June. 

The public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, Floor 2, 600 Fourth Avenue

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