My name is (name). Thanks, Councilmembers, for everything you’ve done recently to make our city more affordable. I appreciate that we are creating more housing near transit and community amenities.

(I/We) live in (neighborhood) and am a (homeowner, renter). (I/We) want to have more options for people to live in Seattle, including (me, our family). Thanks for listening to (my, our family’s) ADU story.

Backyard cottages and granny flats are a fantastic option for intergenerational living, aging in place, accessible housing, and so much more! That's why groups, like AARP, have developed extensive housing websites devoted to Accessory Dwelling Units - ADUs.

Choose storyline 1, 2 or 3!

1. My family has lived in an ADU (basement flat, backyard cottage). Living in this cottage means we can rent out the main house and supplement our income. It was difficult to build the cottage because of (list restrictions: costs, regulatory barriers, sewer fee, construction cost, neighborhood concerns, parking requirements). We are close to (noun, plural noun) which is our favorite part of living in our community!

2. My family is trying to build an ADU (basement flat, backyard cottage). Building this (adjective) additional apartment would fit

well with our lifestyle because (personal anecdote). We are close to (noun, plural noun). It is so difficult to build the (cottage, in-house flat) because of (list restrictions: costs, regulatory barriers, sewer fee, construction cost, neighborhood concerns, parking requirements). We are close to (noun, plural noun) which is our favorite part of our community.

3. My family and I are renters in a (basement flat, backyard cottage). Renting this (adjective) apartment fits what we need because (personal anecdote). We are close to (noun, plural noun).

NOW! Finish strong:

Finally, people who have fought these common sense changes have made environmental claims, and erosion of process claims, that I do not agree with. More housing near transit and more small housing options are critical during dual housing and climate emergencies. Barriers like mandated parking spaces and owner occupancy will limit which families can afford to participate in this important piece of the housing puzzle.

Please pass common sense cottage reform and help our city, and my family, have the housing choices we need to stay here for generations to come!

WRITE YOUR OWN ADU STORY


Acronyms:

ADU (accessory dwelling unit)

AADU (attached accessory dwelling unit)  

DADU (detached accessory dwelling unit)

FAR (floor area ratio) & GFA (gross floor area)

Talking Points:

  • Climate Change: (D)ADUs are one way to add new neighbors to areas with frequent transit service, people can live closer to their jobs, cultural communities and more which means less sprawl, and more car-lite lifestyles. (D)ADUs are also much more energy efficient, cutting carbon emissions by as much as half compared to single-detached homes.
  • Walkable Communities: (D)ADUs support small businesses by allowing more people to live within walking/biking/easy transit distance of local mom and pop shops. .
  • Aging in place: If a DADU is all on one level, the new rules will allow it to cover more of the rear setback (60% instead of 40%), making it much easier to create dwellings for aging in place. Many people move into the backyard cottage and rent out the front home to offset rising property taxes.
  • Intergenerational Living: (D)ADUs help create additional living spaces for children needing an affordable place to stay during or after college, a living arrangement for an aging parent, a relative who can babysit or fill in for child-needs, or a relative who might need at-home care. US families aren’t the typical nuclear family anymore. (D)ADUs accommodate each of our unique situations.
  • Parking Requirements: Let’s prioritize  housing for people, not storage for cars and stuff.  The proposed legislation takes away the additional parking space requirement, plus it doesn’t count interior parking or storage space against the size limit. This means that if you would like to create a “fonzie flat” above a garage, you don’t include the garage as part of your new unit size. It also means there is more room for your garden instead of a parking space.
  • Affordability: Right now 75% of Seattle is off limits to new neighbors who can’t rent a whole house or have a downpayment for one. We have apartment bans in 75% of the city. ADUs & DADUs are one way to induce mixed-income neighborhoods and more equity without changing the zoning for apartment buildings. (D)ADUs also help homeowners prevent foreclosure.
  • Land Owners, Home Owners, & Renting Neighbors Does it matter if someone is an owner or a renter living on the property? The proposed change is to allow anyone to live on a property with an attached or detached ADU.  Right now, the property owner has to live there six months out of the year, a bias against renters. Plus, 20% of Seattle’s single family homes are already occupied by renters. The owner is not required to live there and these properties could now have an ADU, too.
  • Overscale homes & “building envelope” aka bulk, scale, mass:  New luxury detached housing is sometimes called a “McMansion.” Right now, we incentivize removing small houses so the largest possible house can be constructed. Based on census data, the average household size is declining but the average square footage of a house isn’t! By applying a floor:area ratio (FAR) to the main house, it means new homes will be more “in scale” with the neighborhood. Plus, if someone adds an AADU or DADU to their home (or builds a new one from scratch) it does not count towards FAR. Let’s prioritize housing for more families in our communities.
  • Size: Let’s equalize DADUs and AADUs letting them both be 1,000 square feet. This is a size that a family or roommates can live in. Many lots are between 3,200 ft2 and 4000 ft2 -- letting DADUs be built on smaller lots allows more DADUs.
  • Height: Adding that additional one or two feet will mean it is easier to reuse a structure and build above a garage, AKA a “Fonzie flat.”  This also makes it easier to create a new two-level structure.

It all adds up!

These modest changes to all the rules mean more and more people have the choice to create an AADU or DADU.  

Over time, this means more flexibility and more access to our neighborhoods.   

Your voice matters--please make yourself heard by testifying in person, testifying over email, talking to your neighbors, family, friends.

Learn More:

AARP’s The ABCs of ADUs

COntact Council: here.

Need help telling your ADU Story? Reach out today! moarseattle@gmail.com                                                                          Developed by MOAR- More Options For Accessory Residences

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