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Attention, Seattle single-family (SF) homeowners! The City of Seattle is proposing changes that will impact nearly every SF-zoned neighborhood, including ours. It is important that you are aware and informed of these changes, as they could significantly impact not only your property and those of your neighbors, but the entire fabric of Seattle neighborhoods.

This relatively obscure 694-page proposal is a companion to the more well-known and well-publicized mandatory housing affordability (MHA) program, that allows upzoning in areas designated as Urban Villages and certain single-family neighborhoods adjacent to the Urban Villages.

Here are the facts (taken from the City of Seattle website):

“The City proposes to remove regulatory barriers in the Land Use Code to make it easier for property owners to create accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and increase the number and variety of housing choices in Seattle’s single-family zones. On October 4, 2018, we issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that analyzes how the proposed changes could affect the environment.”

The final EIS proposal includes the following key features for ALL SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING in Seattle:

  • Allowing two ADUs on one lot
  • Removing the off-street parking requirement
  • Allowing DADUs (detached accessory dwelling units) on lots of at least 3,200 square feet [ 5,000 square feet currently]
  • Removing the owner-occupancy requirement
  • Requiring one year of continuous ownership to establish a second ADU
  • Allowing DADUs of up to 1,000 square feet, the same size currently allowed for AADUs [Attached Accessory Dwelling Units]
  • Increasing DADU height limits by 1-2 feet, with flexibility for green building strategies
  • Providing flexibility for one-story DADUs accessible to people with disabilities or limited mobility, with limitations on tree removal
  • Establishing a new floor area ratio (FAR) standard that limits the maximum size of new single-family homes and encourages ADUs

The EIS has been challenged by several neighborhood groups, including the Queen Anne Community Council (QACC). They have filed a legal appeal on the grounds that the study is deficient and inadequate. The QACC website’s “Issues” tab presents a good summary of the proposal and QACC concerns. See

The above proposal is being championed primarily by our District 6 Councilmember Mike O’Brien. See more details of his proposal at

Other useful links:

The FINAL EIS ADU document (694 pgs. – see exhibits at 1-2 and 2-1)

One page summary at

There have been several editorials in the Seattle Times in the past few months – both pro and con. There is also an editorial by former City Councilmember Jean Godden in the February 8 Westside Seattle paper at

If you have comments or concerns about the proposal, you are encouraged to contact Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s office, other councilmembers, and Mayor Durkan. If you feel there needs to be more public involvement and discussion regarding this major change to single family neighborhoods, ask the council and Mayor’s office to delay any decision on this proposal until after the new City Council is seated in early 2020, thereby ensuring that this critical land-use issue will be well covered in this year’s council races (all seven district seats).

There will be a public meeting with Mike O’Brien at the monthly Phinney Ridge Community Council meeting on March 5, 7:00 p.m., at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, where you will have the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.

A public hearing on the MHA rezones is set for Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers. A preliminary council vote is scheduled for Feb. 25, and a final vote is expected March 18.



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