Yesterday Mayor Jenny Durkan signed into law the ordinance loosening rules for ADUs and restricting the building of “McMansions.” She also signed an executive order directing several actions intended to expedite the design, permitting and construction of ADUs and to make them more affordable to build.
This afternoon, the legislation loosening restrictions on “accessory dwelling units” or ADUs passed out of committee and will be up for final approval by the full Council on July 1.
For background, read my post from earlier this week on the amendments being considered.
Most of the amendments under consideration passed. Among the few that didn’t:
- Amendment 4, offered by Council member Herbold, would have prohibited newly-permitted ADUs from being used for short-term rentals through AirBnB and other companies. O’Brien and Pacheco opposed it, while Harrell supported it from “detached” ADUs only.
- Amendment 5, also by Herbold, which would have added a one-year ownership requirement before a second ADU could be permitted unless it was developed as a rent-restricted unit. Same split: O’Brien and Pacheco against, Herbold and Harell for.
- Amendment 6, offered by Pacheco, which would have added an additional 25 square foot allowance in an ADU’s floor area for indoor bicycle parking. Pacheco withdrew it from consideration.
All three of these amendments might come up for reconsideration when the bill is in front of the full Council on July 1.
Pacheco introduced one other last-minute amendment, which grants a 250 square foot exemption for houses for an attached garage. He said that he felt it was important to incent developers to build attached garages of detached ones. That amendment was also adopted.
The final, amended bill should pass easily with the full Council. Once the Mayor signs it into law, however, it may see another legal challenge from neighborhood groups who wish to challenge the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Statement; the Hearing Examiner upheld the EIS’s adequacy, but by law any further appeals must come after legislative action.
This afternoon, the Office of the Hearing Examiner released its ruling on an appeal of the adequacy of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the City Council’s proposed legislation relaxing rules on the construction of ADUs (aka “mother in law apartments” and “backyard cottages”) in single-family residential zones in Seattle.
Council member Mike O’Brien’s proposal to increase the number of mother-in-law apartments and “backyard cottages” has been on hold for over two years, since the Hearing Examiner ruled in late 2016 that a full Environmental Impact Statement was required. The final EIS was published last week, and once the inevitable appeals are dealt with that hurdle will have been crossed. But later this week, O’Brien’s office will hold a special meeting to discuss a Racial Equity Toolkit evaluation of the proposal that looked on how it will affect underserved communities at risk of displacement.