Seattle Director’s Report on Removing Barriers to ADUs

accessory dwelling unit
In September 2014, the City Council adopted Resolution 31547 directingthe Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to explore policy changes that would increase the production of attached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs or backyard cottages), including regulatory changes, incentives, and marketing and promotion. In October 2015, DPD released a report discussing a range of potential policy options that could help achieve this goal. Staff from the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) then conducted several months of outreach and engagement with the public, current and prospective backyard cottage owners, and people who design and build backyard cottages.

In January and February 2016, Councilmember Mike O’Brien and OPCD co-hosted two community meetings to get feedback on a number of potential Land Use Code changes and solicit ideas and strategies for making it easier to create backyard cottages and ADUs. Attendees at these meetings weighed in on several potential policy options that would make it easier for people to create housing through backyard cottages and ADUs. Several presentation boards described the policy questions and provided space for people to respond and leave additional comments. OPCD staff also distributed and received hundreds of comment forms with these same questions. The OPCD website has a summary of the public input received throughout this process.

Based on this feedback, OPCD staff have prepared legislation for the City Council that would amend various provisions in the Land Use Code related to the creation of backyard cottages and ADUs. This report describes these amendments. In brief, this legislation would modify the development standards that regulate the siting, location, and design of backyard cottages; allow an ADU and a backyard cottage on the same lot; and change the parking and owner-occupancy requirements that apply to both ADUs and backyard cottages. The proposal responds to identified barriers to creation of ADUs and backyard cottages and reflects
the input that OPCD and Councilmember O’Brien gathered on these specific potential policy options during months of outreach and at the two public meetings in early 2016.

Download the full report: Seattle Director’s Report on Removing Barriers to Backyard Cottages and Accessory Dwelling Units

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Elaine Walker