Micro-Housing

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Project Outcomes

On October 6, 2014 the City Council Planning Land Use and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee voted to pass new regulations for micro-housing (also known as small efficiency dwelling units), congregate residences, and similar forms of development. The adopted legislation is Ordinance 124608 and went into effect on November 17, 2014. We are pleased to have new rules in place to help clarify standards for developers and neighborhood groups alike. Key elements of the regulations include:

  • Micro-housing is regulated as individual small efficiency dwelling units (SEDUs). A new code subsection specifies allowable configurations of interior spaces. Groups of sleeping rooms with a shared kitchen within a single dwelling unit (a previous model for micro-housing) is no longer allowed. Instead, developers may construct small efficiency dwelling units, which are complete dwelling units containing a full kitchen / kitchenette. Small efficiency dwelling units are required to have a minimum room size of 150 square feet, and must meet regulations in Director's Rule 7-2016.
  • Private, non-special needs congregate residences are only allowed in some places. Congregate residences that are not owned by or directly affiliated with a non-profit housing provider, college, or university, or that are not licensed to provide support services, are only allowed in urban villages and urban centers in these zones:
    • Neighborhood Commercial 3 (NC3)
    • Midrise multifamily (MR)
    • Highrise multifamily (HR)
    • Seattle Mixed (SM)
    • Commercial (C1)
    • Downtown zones
  • Special needs congregate residences continue to be allowed in all zones that allow multi-family development. Congregate residences that are owned by or directly affiliated with a non-profit housing provider, college, or university, or that are licensed to provide support services, continue to be allowed in all zones that allow multi-family development including:
    • Lowrise zones (LR1, LR2, LR3)
    • Neighborhood Commercial 1 and 2 zones (NC1 and NC2)
  • Design Review is required. Previously, some micro-housing projects did not go through design review. Under the new rules, congregate residences and buildings with Small Efficiency Dwelling Units, over the below size thresholds are required to go through design review.
    • 5,000 – 11,999 square feet – Streamlined Design Review
    • 12,000 – 19,999 square feet - Administrative Design Review
    • 20,000+ square feet – Design Review Board review

Key Milestones

  • October 7, 2013
    Release State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Review Draft
  • March 2014
    Mayor's Proposed Legislation
  • May 19, 2014
    City Council held a public hearing about the proposed regulations
  • Summer 2014
    City Council PLUS Committee stakeholder working group
  • October 6, 2014
    Final City Council Approval

Project Purpose

SEDUs and congregate residences are an emerging type of housing. With proper regulations, these options can help achieve Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan goals and policies by allowing new housing type and fostering an adequate and diverse supply of housing.

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