Development Notification

www_onehomeperlot_com_wp-content_uploads_2013_08_House-photos_pdfOne Home Per Lot, the effort to prevent squeezing extra houses onto lots (born out of the Alley Scraper and related incidents) has picked up a new hope. We received this from their newsletter:

This is one of the biggest breakthroughs we’ve had in some time (regarding an issue that’s very important to our supporters).

As you know, the city of Seattle refuses to provide the neighbors who live around backyard / side yard house projects with any special notice when one is being considered, or even when it’s approved. So … Washington State Representatives Pollet and Tarleton are now proposing a new law  that will force the city to do exactly that.

If you feel neighbors should be notified, we need you to email or call both of these legislators. Thank them for proposing the bill, and let them know you support it. No convincing needed. We just need to show them there is great support within the city for this bill. (They measure support based on the number of calls/emails they receive.)

Please ask your neighbors to do the same.

All the information you need to fire off two emails in three minutes is included below.

At the reading of the bill yesterday, a representative from the construction industry argued that Seattle already provides its citizens with notice. (Of course, citizens would have to be monitoring the DPD’s website every day to receive such notice.)

Worst of all, because no notice is given to neighbors, many miss out on their only opportunity to protest or stop the construction of a backyard / side yard house: a LUPA lawsuit. (Under state law, LUPA lawsuits must be filed within 21 days of a backyard / side yard house project being approved. But, how can citizens be expected to file a LUPA suit within that timeline when they’re never notified?!)

Refer to it as: “House Bill 2311″

The sponsors of the bill: Washington State Representatives Pollet and Tarleton

The bill: Would require that cities with a population of 500,000 or more (that means Seattle, and Seattle only), must adopt regulations and procedures for providing notice. Specifically, the city must “provide notice of the application to all adjacent landowners and residents and an opportunity to submit comments” regarding “land use decisions related to the preliminary short plat approval of a short subdivision or the approval of a boundary line adjustment.”

Read the full bill:


If you support this bill, email or phone these two state legislators (plus your state legislator):

If neither Pollet or Tarleton are your state representative, you’ll also want to email or call the legislator who represents your district. Use this tool to quickly and easily find your state legislator.

(Thanks for the tip, Rachel Freed)

  1. Cameron said,

    I appreciate that it has to suck to live next to one of these lots and be surprised by an infill house being crammed onto it.

    I’m also curious, as a society, whether we would rather have greater in-fill and density within the city, or faster rising housing costs in the city and greater suburban sprawl consuming neighboring forest and farm land?

    Sun, January 26 at 10:09 am
  2. Donn said,

    I’m curious, as a society, whether we would sacrifice transparency and due process in order to get a little in-fill (mostly filling in the pockets of developers, I suspect), or at this point would we need to add the specter of total economic collapse before we’d give up our rights to even be informed?

    If this measure prevents in-fill, it would be because, having been notified in time, neighbors are able to stop it via legal action. If there’s any injustice in that, the remedy would be to restrict legal recourse, not to avoid timely notification.

    Is it true that the DPD publishes the details on its web site? – would it be feasible for neighborhood advocacy groups or persons to route the information to owners of neighboring lots? The legislative effort is obviously much more of a sure thing, but even if it’s successful it could take a while to be implemented.

    Sun, January 26 at 3:01 pm
  3. walkinroun said,

    How high and how dense and how many before we say too much? What is getting saved? Don’t buy into the faux smartgrowth of the developers and the capitalists. These petty infillers care not a whit about forests and streams and farms and native lands. It’s all about the money.

    Sun, January 26 at 3:40 pm
  4. Donn said,

    One Home Per Lot’s web site has hours of reading for anyone interested in this matter. While owners certainly ought to be able to file a LUPA suit if they think they have a case, it looks like an expensive long shot, as your lawyer has to catch the DPD misapplying its own rules. Meanwhile the city has a proposed amendment under way in response to the complaints — but that was under Conlin, who was sacked, and (typically) it doesn’t take much away from the developers, as I read it. The new Land Use committee is supposed to start looking at it next month.

    One of the key issues is height, and the amendment restricts height … but “the intent is to accommodate a two story house with comfortable ceiling heights”, so the initially proposed 23 foot maximum height is now 27 feet. In my opinion, this is where we get a look at the game. There are plenty of potential home owners who would be standing in line for a chance to own a small home at a reasonable price, but the money is in big homes, so every home that’s built has to be two stories even if it’s in what you thought was your neighbor’s back yard. When they start from that basic assumption, no amount of tinkering is going to address the problem.

    Mon, January 27 at 8:34 am
  5. edwins said,

    Thanks for posting this article. I would not have known of the proposed legislation without it.

    Tue, January 28 at 8:06 pm
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