By Joe Veyera
Months after the hearing examiner ruled in favor of the Queen Anne Community Council in their appeal of a proposal to ease regulations on building backyard cottages and mother-in-law units, the city has announced its next steps on the issue.
In a blog post late last month, Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien wrote that after a “thorough examination” of the decision, the city will pursue a full environmental impact statement to look deeply into the potential impacts of code changes.
In the post, O’Brien said the EIS process will likely take a year to complete, and that there will be multiple opportunities for residents to voice their opinions during that period.
O’Brien originally introduced a proposal last year that would have allowed properties to have both an attached accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU) on the same lot, removed the off-street parking requirement, removed the owner-occupancy requirement after one year, reduced the minimum lot size for a DADU to 3,200 sq. ft., and increased the allowable floor area for a DADU from 800 to 1,000 sq. ft. Opponents of the proposal raised concerns that the potential environmental impacts weren’t adequately studied, and the hearing examiner ruled that the city’s determination of non-significance in relation to the State Environmental Policy Act was not based on sufficient information to evaluate potential impacts. Meanwhile, proponents of the original effort labeled the Community Council’s efforts as obstructionist, something they firmly denied.
The hope, O’Brien wrote, is to bring legislation to the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee by the middle of the next year.
“I believe lowering the barriers to creating backyard cottages and in-law apartments is an important part of addressing affordability across the city, and am looking forward to continuing to pursue this legislation,” O’Brien wrote in the post.