Seattle residents protest micro-apartments at city council meeting

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by ALLEN SCHAUFFLER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 18, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 24 at 9:33 AM

The Seattle City Council held a “brown-bag lunch meeting” about high-density housing on Thursday. These micro unit apartments are gaining popularity around town, especially on Capitol Hill and in the University District.

More than 75 people turned out for the meeting, many of them calling for a moratorium on any further permitting of the small-apartment developments.

The micro unit apartments can be 200 square feet in size, cost $700 a month with utilities and free internet service thrown in. Developers and property manager argue they’re perfect for people “in transition” between jobs or careers, or for young singles who are looking for a lifestyle high on street-scene and low on maintenance.

The units are simply built and cheap to rent, usually with a lease commitment of two or three months, followed by a month-by-month arrangement.

But some neighborhood activists say the high-density structures haven’t had proper design review from the city, damage the character and value of the communities where they’re built, and have been improperly receiving property tax exemptions as being low-income “family housing.”

As long as housing has had eight or fewer “dwelling units” (which can actually be a cluster of many more sleeping rooms with a shared kitchen) in the past, Seattle hasn't required city officials to review or approve the design. 

George Bakan, President of the Capitol Hill Community Council, recently presented a resolution from his group calling for a moratorium on more construction of micro unit apartments.

Four councilmembers have scheduled another public meeting on the apodments for May 6th. No location has been determined yet.

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