Tiny Homes Sprout; Backlash Grows

The development of micro-housing or ‘aPodments’ in Seattle allow for affordable alternatives to expensive apartments in the city, but not everyone is a fan.

When the cost of living in Seattle proves to be too much for those wanting to have the same accommodations to city amenities, many are turning to microhousing (aPodments) as an affordable alternative to the pricier apartments and townhomes in Seattle. With rent starting around $600-$850 for 150-250 sq. ft. for these aPodments, they are increasing in popularity amongst students and singles who want the city life without the city price. For one resident, Judy Green, a retired AutoCAD drafter, an aPodment was just what she was looking for after having spent a decade living on a boat. Her tiny unit, at just 200 sq. ft. includes a kitchenette, skylights, a loft bedroom, a private bathroom w/shower and a small private patio. She mentioned that her brand-new unit in the University District offered more light and more stylish finishes than the one-bedroom apartments she looked at within her price range… Although aPodments have their supporters, many neighbors of these apartments have concerns over the projects. A Capitol Hill resident, Carl Winter, who formed the group Reasonable Density Seattle, which aims at lobbying the city for more regulations in governing these developments, is concerned about the amount of people living in these complexes and what it means for his neighborhood. “We’re not concerned with who these people are, but with how many there are. This is a massive increase in density” Neighbors have been complaining about microhousing for several years. In 2009, following an outcry over a 46 room project at 23rd Avenue East and East John Street, City Councilmember Sally Clark, then chair of the land-use committee, suggested that the projects undergo the same scrutiny as a similarly sized apartment building, because of the potential impacts. But the Department of Planning and Development has continued to count kitchens, not total units, and has generally provided no notice to neighbors when a development is proposed. Clark stated that the number of microhousing projects has increased since the end of the recession and the impacts should be addressed. “Design review and notice to the neighbors with a chance to influence the outcome seems like a reasonable thing to ask,” she said. Due the popularity of their affordability and proximity to downtown, these developments appear to be picking up speed. For people like Judy Green, this is a positive. “I’m a minimalist, I think this is a wonderful thing”.

Thompson, L. (2013, April 24). Tiny homes sprout; backlash grows. The Seattle Times, p. A5.




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