Find of the Month

June 2018 - Zoning

zoning map

Seattle’s first zoning code was established in 1923, and almost immediately citizens began trying to change it. The code defined two types of residental areas: First Residence Districts, which were generally single-family zones, and Second Residence Districts, which allowed apartment houses, hospitals, and a few other non-commercial uses.

In addition to single-family houses, other allowable uses in First Residence Districts included parks, libraries, railroad stations, churches, and schools. These latter two uses proved controversial among homeowners, as seen in Comptroller File 108679.

The CF consists of documents from the Mt. Baker Park Improvement Club, the Madrona Community Club, and the Inter-club Council of Lake Washington Clubs, all expressing concern that churches and schools are “detrimental to such residence districts, and to home owners residing therein.” They believed that “one of the primary purposes of the Zoning Ordinance is the protection of the home owner and the establishment of zones where nothing but residences will be permitted,” and argued that “for the interest of the entire City,” the law should be amended to prohibit these uses in First Residence Districts, as their inclusion was “inimical to the welfare of the people.”

The Mt. Baker neighborhood group agreed with the other two organizations about the need to amend the zoning code, but they did recommend including a loophole where construction would be allowed if “consent to such erection is obtained from all property owners within 400 feet of proposed schools or churches.”

The zoning code was not amended, and religious and educational buildings continued to be allowed in single-family zones.