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Monday, November 21, 2005

Detached Rental Proposal Considered

The city of Seattle is considering a proposal that could ever so slightly ease the financial pain that come with soaring housing costs by allowing detached rental apartments in single-family-zoned neighborhoods:

...detached rental apartments and backyard cottages have long been outlawed in Seattle's traditional single-family neighborhoods. Some have worried they'll cause parking problems, erode neighbors' privacy and eat up back yards.

They're currently only allowed in areas with multifamily zoning, such as New Holly, but Mayor Greg Nickels is working on a proposal to allow them in all southeast Seattle neighborhoods. There, residents concerned about affordable housing have embraced the idea.

It's a scaled-back version of a plan that was nixed by the Mayor's Office.
Of course, as with any change, there are those who are opposed in a vehement, dramatic fashion:
Wallingford resident Greg Hill modeled what would happen if everyone on his street built a detached rental unit in his or her back yard. What was once a collective reservoir of green open space became a crowded row of tenementlike buildings.

"It just becomes a ghetto — there's no open space, there's no gardens," Hill said. "There won't be any tomato growing going on in the city if this passes."
That would be too bad. I like home-grown tomatoes. On the other hand, there is clearly some potential benefit here for first-time homeowners:
Tom Smith, 38, who works in business development for community radio station KEXP, said it was a "huge struggle" to find a house he could afford within the city limits.

He felt lucky to get a small, 1950s-era home near Columbia City. But it could prove to be an even better deal if the city allows him to convert the two-story garage, which he currently uses for storage, into an apartment.

"I would be psyched," he said. "It's really tough to get a house in Seattle as a first-time home buyer, and having a detached (rental) would make it a much easier proposition."
Would the change really have a noticeable effect one way or the other? It seems doubtful, but that certainly won't stop people from getting emotional and upset on both sides of the issue.

(Jennifer Langston, Seattle P-I, 11.21.2005)

2 comments:

SLO renter said...

There are many detached rentals in San Luis Obispo (a small college town on the California Central Coast). Most of them were put in during past real estate booms (California real estate tends to boom and bust periodically, and this area has historically fluctuated even more wildly than the rest of California). These detached rentals are quite nice for the owners, as you can live in the house and get an extra $1000/month from your renter out back. However, as a renter, they are a pain in the butt, as you generally have to pay a premium to rent a housing without having somebody living in the garage or the back yard. I'd just as soon live in a nice condo, really.

Anonymous said...

As an owner, I'd love to have a good friend and neighbor living out back and helping me with the house payments!
And as a renter I'd love to have a situation where a person is depending on me to help 'em out w/ their payments & just wants a stable situation- not going to double my rent just cuz "rents are going up".
Plus, density gets better and there's more oppportunity for walking to get your daily needzs met.
People here are too into sprawl and cars.