Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Give Input Now On Large, Skinny Houses On Small Lots, Like One On NE 40th Street

 House at 4812 NE 40th Street built on small side yard oringially part of home next door

The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is accepting public comments through tomorrow at 5pm,  on the issue of tall, skinny houses being built on very small lots, such as the one at  4812 NE 40th Street in Laurelhurst, which  sits on a piece of property 30 feet wide, and was segmented out of a sideyard which was a total of  only 80 feet wide. The house covers all the land, except for 10 feet of the house's previous yard.

The Seattle Times reported that the 1924 house and side yard were sold to a developer for $815,000 in 2012, then it was resold without the side yard for $760,000. The new 3-story home next door is expected to list for $1.5 million dollars.

Kim Dales, Laurelhurst Windermere agent, told us that the home, contemporary in style, is nearing its completion date of May 1st and if there are "any interested parties, the builder would be willing to sell off market."

The Seattle Times article  says:
John Taylor, who lives directly behind the new home, describes its looming presence over his back yard as “a guard tower.” He said the neighbors had no notice from the city or the developer that a new house was being crammed in between two existing houses, on what had been the old house’s yard. 
“The city identified the side yard as a separate building site even though it had never been taxed as such and had never been bought and sold as such,” Taylor said. “What offends me is that it’s completely unexpected and random.”  
The developer, Dan Duffus, s well-known around the city for building these tall skinny houses on very small lots, of which the houses are modern in style, towering over the established homes beneath them and don't fit in with the character of the neighborhood.

Laurelhurst residnts living around the house, as well as others citywide, have joined a multi-neighborhood Seattle wide movement called One Home Per Lot in which the website explains the issue in detail, shows how to get involved and details Duffus' track record and lists the effects these projects have had on neighborhoods like Laurelhurst, Fremont, Wallingford and Montlake, to name only a few throughout Seattle.

The One Home Per Log group, which fit into the character and scale of the neighborhood says that the new proposal has too many exceptions and loopholes, doesn’t require notice to neighbors and does away with use of the historic tax parcels, such as in the Laurelhurst lot division, but doesn’t address a property owner who might use old deeds, historic sales contracts or historic building permits.

Erin Miller, a neighbor and member of One House Per Lot, questions whether the city Department of Planning and Development is working for all Seattle residents or only for developers. "I expect remodeling, but not a whole new house in the back yard. We’re paying taxes, too. There needs to be some balance.”
A Blog reader wrote to us: 
All neighborhoods such as Laurelhurst, Montlake, Queen Anne have experienced surprise homes being built on undersized lots and they must be heavily regulated otherwise neighborhoods stand to gain ugly infill when the character of a neighborhood is not maintained and and any person or developer should work with neighborhood councils and implement appropriate design features in their home design, size and scope to blend with existing homes and overall neighborhood characteristics."

Does Laurelhurst merit a time-share community garden wherein stakeholder's buy into a large lot with small house in neighborhood for sale that might be a target for "a number of smaller homes built and or another McMansion. 
Use your voice to chime in to the discussion.

Since September, the City has placed a moratorium on small-lot development while proposed rules are being considered.

The public can weigh in on regulations currently being drafted and under consideration by the City Council for development on small lots in single-family zones and DPD’s preliminary recommendations which were presented on March 14 meeting of the City Council’s Planning Land Use and Sustainability Committee.

Under the new rules, the Seattle Times reports:
No lot smaller than 2,000 square feet — less than 0.05 of an acre — could be developed, and the height of new construction would be limited to 18 feet plus a 5-foot pitched roof. The new rules would eliminate the use of historic tax parcels — which don’t appear on current city land-use maps — as a basis to qualify a lot smaller than the neighborhood zoning specifies. 
The 18-foot height limit could be exceeded if the developer chose a different permit type that required notice to the neighbors. 
And the rules don’t prohibit the use of existing side or back yards to create a new, undersized lot.
After comments are received, DPD will prepare a more detailed proposal, with code language and related environmental review documents and there will be additional opportunity for public comment and discussion.

Send your comments to:

Councilmember Richard Conlin
Email: richard.conlin@seattle.gov
Address: Legislative Department
600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2  PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Andy McKim
Email: andy.mckim@seattle.gov
Address: Department of Planning and Development
700 - 5th Ave, Suite 2000
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

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