Template for Contacting the Mayor and Council Regarding Elimination of of Single-Family Zoning

posted Dec 23, 2018, 8:07 PM by CBF
Please use and/or adapt the following for your own email to the Mayor and Council as you see fit.  A PRCC Board Member drafted this text.    

Dear friends and neighbors,

I generally try not to send political emails to you, but I thought this issue was important enough to make an exception.

I'm forwarding an email that I suggest you read from the Queen Anne Community Council. It concerns a proposal by District 6 City Council Member Mike O'Brien to eliminate single-family zoning in the City, and replace all single-family neighborhoods with triplex zones. 

His proposal would allow three-story triplexes or duplexes plus two-story backyard houses on single-family lots of 3,200 square feet or more, would eliminate all parking requirements for these structures, would allow absentee landlords and speculators to own them, and would allow up to 12 unrelated persons to live on every single-family lot. Although the proposal has sometimes been characterized as simply an effort to ease restrictions on "backyard cottages" and "in-law" apartments, in fact it is a wholesale elimination of single-family neighborhoods. 

This is not a strategy that will produce more "affordable" housing. The City's own Environmental Impact Statement characterizes the proposal's effect on housing prices as marginal. Also, the legislation could well mean displacement of lower-income persons as speculators buy up small, relatively affordable homes in less well-off neighborhoods. This is especially true with the proposed elimination of the current requirement that homeowners with in-law apartments or backyard cottages live on site. Council Member O'Brien initially said that he would retain some form of owner-occupancy requirement in the legislation to prevent speculation, but that requirement doesn't appear in the final version. (There's also the issue these new units being used for Air BnBs rather than housing.)

You should also be aware of three more things: 1. The City already allows backyard cottages and in-law apartments in single-family zones;  2. the present rules could be fine-tuned and relaxed with more sensitivity to design and context but without a wholesale elimination of single-family neighborhoods; and 3. According to the Queen Anne Community Council, Council Member O'Brien has rebuffed their proposals to reach a compromise solution.

Written expressions of concern and opposition will only be effective if enough people send them. If you are concerned about this proposal, please take a few minutes to write to the mayor and council members. This legislation could pass early next year, so the time to write is now.

council@seattle.gov (all council members)
mike.obrien@seattle.gov (Mike O'Brien)