News of Madison Valley

Encouraging Backyard Cottages & Seattle At Work


With great fanfare and considerable community debate and discussion, the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Advisory Committee delivered a hefty list of recommendations to Mayor Murray last July. Since then, city government is taking the necessary steps to implement the HALA Grand Bargain and Mayor’s action plan with the development of legislation and Council action. Now the real work begins where the residents of Seattle are invited to help shape the changes to our laws that will realize the goals of HALA.

Seattle at Work Community Meeting

The heart of the HALA Grand Bargain is upzoning all multi-family areas, and single family areas within the Urban Villages, in exchange for more affordable housing. As this work proceeds, we have the opportunity to understand what is being proposed and provide feedback regarding the realities of implementation.

Join Mayor Murray and City Staff to continue the conversation around the Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda to discuss creating new programs to increase housing affordability and strengthen tenant protections.

Tuesday, January 26, 5 – 7pm
Seattle City Hall
600 4th Ave



Encouraging Backyard Cottages Community Meetings

Expanding the construction of backyard cottages (aka DADUs – Detached Accessory Dwelling Units) could provide thousands of new housing units throughout Seattle and give homeowners an opportunity to earn stable, extra income, and remain in their homes. Join city staff and Councilmember Mike O’Brien at two public meetings in January 2016 to discuss policy options that would encourage production of backyard cottages.

Tuesday, January 19, 6 – 7:30pm
Filipino Community Center
5740 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way

Wednesday, February 3, 6 – 7:30pm
Wallingford Senior Center
4649 Sunnyside Ave N

The Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD) published a background report and analysis that provides a good overview. Here are some aspects of legislation being considered and worth thinking about in terms of, “How can backyard cottages work in my neighborhood or other areas I am familiar with?” and, “How do backyard cottages enhance our neighborhoods?”

What sizes and heights should be allowed for cottages? Does it depend on the specific neighborhood? What portion of a lot should be preserved for green space? How close should cottages be to the property line adjacent to neighbors and how close when by an alley or street?

What should the parking requirements be? Does it make sense for someone with no garage or driveway but a huge backyard to have to put in a driveway and parking spaces to add a cottage? What about areas with no available on-street parking?

Should homeowners be able to create a basement or other section of their house as a rental unit (ADU or Attached Accessory Dwelling Unit) and also build a backyard cottage on their property? Should the owner be required to live on the property or is it acceptable for all of the living units (house, basement apartment and/or backyard cottage) to be rented with no homeowner resident?

Do some ideas of ‘what makes sense’ depend on different kinds of neighborhoods’ housing types? Does the heights of surrounding homes or the standard lot sizes and locations of homes on those lots make a difference in how you think about proposals? Where an area has a ubiquitous architectural style, does that make a difference in what would be desirable?

Are you considering building backyard cottage? What would be helpful to you? What creative ideas have you come up with? Watch this presentation to hear from folks who have done it describe the process, and where they experienced benefits and impediments.


Topics: Community Planning, Construction
Lindy (7:00 pm Jan 14)
Great article. Thank you Kathryn.