Two sets of rules: 1 for homeowners and loopholes for developers
Seattle’s neighborhoods and homeowners have a problem. Developers don’t have to follow the same basic land development rules that the rest of us do.
The Benchview neighborhood of West Seattle is fighting this problem right now. A developer plans to squeeze 3 homes on a piece of land that is only big enough for 2. The City approved this plan by applying obscure, confusing and vague land use rules that 99% of us have never heard about.
Most developers don’t push these loopholes to absurd limits, but a few of them do. These developers build big, out of scale houses on small lots to maximize their profits at the expense of neighborhoods. These neighborhoods suffer loss of property values, less light, less open space and degraded character.
Density where it makes sense
Seattle has a clear plan to accommodate new residents: focus growth in urban centers and villages like Capitol Hill, U District, Ballard and West Seattle Junction. These areas have the advantages of frequent transit, new parks, and shops within walking distance. The developer loopholes will only squeeze in perhaps a couple hundred new homes across Seattle. That makes an insignificant impact on density for the city overall. Heck, one condo in an urban village can have 200 homes in it. But those 200 out of scale homes have serious impacts on 200 neighborhoods. There is no benefit to public, and it’s just not fair.
All we want is for this developer to do what many developers do – build homes that enhance a neighborhood rather than hurt neighborhood character and lower property values.
It’s basic fairness.