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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Backyard cottages: Is Seattle getting too packed?

City Council’s cottage proposal could make Seattle affordable

The Seattle City Council’s willingness to consider allowing backyard cottages throughout the city deserves a hearty “Bravo!” Perhaps with a bit of encouragement, the council could enact the policy without limits on how many are built per year and without owner residency requirements.

Even with a downward trend in home prices, Seattle is still unaffordable. The backyard-cottage proposal will encourage construction of small units, allowing some who otherwise couldn’t live in Seattle the opportunity to do so. It will also add to the stock of housing available to low-income and homeless people. The difference between an 800-square-foot cottage and living on the street or in a shelter is both substantial and reason enough to allow the cottages.

Of course, some will complain that cottages will mean “those people” will move into their neighborhoods or that their serenity will be disturbed. Why is it that a property owner’s rights must be trumped by those who don’t own the property? And why is it OK to effectively zone “those people” out of some neighborhoods?

Or is this just hysteria? Experience with the cottages in southeast Seattle suggests that it is.

Too many reasons for it, too few against — let’s give it a shot.

— Scott St. Clair, Olympia

Cottages will make neighborhoods more dense

That Bryan Stevens of the Seattle Department of Planning and Development can actually state that the addition of backyard cottages will not increase single-family neighborhood density indicates he needs a new job in the private sector.

— Don DeWeese, Seattle

Comments | More in homeless, Seattle, Seattle City Council

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