On Urban Density: We’re Not All Goldilocks

Photo adapted from "Urban Canyon" by Diego Torres Silvestre

This post originally appeared on Better Institutions on April 20, 2014. Goldilocks is the story of a selfish young girl who breaks into another family’s home, eats their food, and destroys their property. She has a very self-centered perception of what’s “just right,” and she’s perfectly willing to trample on the rights of others in […]

DPD on Sinks: Social Plumbing, Too

Shapiro 4

Scott Shapiro of Eagle Rock Ventures sent the following letter to Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and City Council staff on proposals from DPD to regulate sinks in microhouisng. I’ve written about the strange obsession that some people on Council and others have about sinks (I called it social plumbing). This is a good […]

NIMBYs: The Koch Brothers of Land Use

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When I first met with Mike O’Brien and his lead staff person on land use, Esther Handy, she told me, “I’m here to look out for the little guy when the market can’t.” I think Councilmember O’Brien and Handy are sincere in their desire to accomplish advances toward the goals of social equity and justice. We […]

Design Review: Stealing From the Future

Cassandra and Friend

As I have already pointed out, the Department of Planning and Development has proposed design review for new microhousing projects as a way to assuage anger and fear of a band of neighbors opposed to the product.  But why, in a city where it is liturgical for politicians to state their commitment to ‘affordable housing,’ […]

Council’s Response to Innovation:Raise the Rents on Microhousing?

More Rules

The latest chapter of the Department of Planning and Development’s (DPD) efforts to limit innovative housing solutions in response to angry neighbors is being drafted and will be presented at Friday’s meeting of the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee. After a lengthy appeal the legislation is back and will be considered by the […]

Corn Dogs, Housing, and Innovation

corn dogs City Market

I was asked to write an opinion piece for Publicola yesterday comparing the reaction the Seattle City Council had to ride sharing programs to the reaction they are contemplating to small-lot housing. The truth is I already did that in a post not too long ago. To me, the comparison is obvious. Small-lot housing is […]

Downzoning Your Dreams

Thurbanist Diagram

The evidence continues to build that small-lot legislation offered by the Department of Planning and Development makes things worse for everyone involved, including owners of existing single-family homeowners. Matt Gangemi writing at The Urbanist calls the legislation Seattle’s Largest Downzone. If you live on a lot less than a 3,200 square feet in size, the maximum […]

Seattle Times Story on Displacement: Fixing the Narrative

Bhatt

Many people have been expressing their annoyance with yet another story on the front page of the Seattle Times wringing its hands over the plight of displaced people in the face of what some call, “runaway growth.” Every single person in this city faced with a housing crisis deserves our compassion and help, whether they […]

Small Lot Legislation: An Architect’s Perspective.

The Walsh Hollon House designed by Neiman Taber Architects

As an architect who specializes in housing, I occasionally get involved in discussions with DPD and the city council about land use issues.  In general, I look at proposed legislation from this perspective:  What kind of outcomes will the new legislation encourage?  Are these good outcomes?  If I’m trying to design housing using these new rules, is the code helping or hindering? […]

DPD Tried to Regulate Small Lots;You Wouldn’t Believe What Happened Next!

Over the last part of the week I kept hearing noises on social media about problems with the Department of Planning and Development’s (DPD) efforts to constrain small-lot development. Here’s the comment that set off the biggest discussions and concerns. According to one homeowner the legislation means that about 8,755 existing homes . . . […]