New Rules in Seattle: New Homes on Small Lots

Seattle City Council passed a new height limit on new homes being built on small lots. The new limit prevents developers from building houses higher than 18 feet (plus a 5-foot pitched roof), or the average heigh of adjacent homes, whichever is greater. The new rules also prevent developers from building on lots smaller than 2,500 square feet.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen proposed the lower height limit, citing the concerns of neighborhood activists: large new houses hover over surrounding homes, erasing lawns, trees and open space—the essential components to a charming neighborhood.

“While people understand the need for infill development, they also want to make sure their homes, their investments, are not negatively impacted,” Rasmussen said. “It’s not about keeping others out. It’s about welcoming them in within the context of the neighborhood that exists.”

Developers remain largely unperturbed, claiming that the new rules and regulations will only complicate the already confusing issue.

“We’re still going to build single-family housing. We’re still going to build on small lots,” developer advocate Roger Valdez said after the vote.

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