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honk!!!
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I'm pretty sure this deserves a double barf.
My original post was overly dramatic...

I just feel like these policies are basically saying that if you want to live in Seattle, you had better be making six figures or be one of the lucky few who gets an "affordable" unit. The rest of us can f**k off.
 

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Boardinghouse boom raises concerns in Bellevue
http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021935350_bellevueboardinghousexml.html?cmpid=2628 ($)

In summary, single-family houses in Bellevue's Spiritwood neighborhood are being renovated, expanded, or replaced by boarding houses with multiple rented bedrooms. The neighborhood is near Bellevue College, and has zoning rules that aren't clear on the definition of "single-family".

For example, 1613 144th Ave SE is an existing house which originally had 3 bedrooms, but had 8 when a stop-work order was given. The number was lowered to 6. 1722 144th Ave SE is a new house with 7 bedrooms. 14424 SE 17th St has "seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, two studies, a great room, two rec rooms, a family room, a den and an unfinished basement with another 2,654 square feet of space and a garage that can park six cars". It had two kitchens but the second kitchen violated single-family housing codes.

On Sept. 23, the Bellevue City Council took the first steps to curb what officials say is an emerging business model — not just in Bellevue, but in Auburn, Edmonds and Lynnwood, as well as in numerous cities around the country — through an emergency ordinance that limits the number of unrelated adults living in one house to four. It’s patterned after an ordinance Auburn recently approved; it also requires homeowners to live at the house if they are going to rent out rooms and limits the rooms rented to two. It does not prevent group homes for the elderly or disabled.

Bellevue is now working on a permanent ordinance. The first public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 4.

The increased need for affordable housing in the Northwest has brought a variety of ways to meet that need. Renters take on an entire house and sublet rooms without the owners’ knowledge. Homeowners rent rooms to several roommates to meet the mortgage.

Review Craigslist ads and you’ll find a Redmond couple looking for five roommates, at $700 a room, to help pay the mortgage. An Edmonds woman is looking for a third roommate to pay $650 a room in the house she rents near Edmonds Community College — parking not included. And someone in Lynnwood is renting rooms in one house for $600 each.

Seattle has licensed boardinghouses that provide affordable places for people on small incomes. These places meet building codes and provide a safe environment, which makeshift boardinghomes might not.

In neighborhoods where single-family homes end up being converted to boardinghouses, neighbors complain about yards not being kept up, trash collecting, rats and traffic. Some of the homes that developers bought in Spiritwood appear run down and have unkempt yards, a contrast with the rest of the neighborhood.
Nationwide, using single-family homes as boardinghouses is a problem, especially whenever there is a college nearby, said Bellevue City Councilmember Kevin Wallace.

“For years, Bellevue has carefully protected the character of the neighborhoods ... so here are these investors looking to skirt the zoning. ... We’ve had multiple complaints,” Wallace said. “This is not the first time I’ve noticed it happening, but not on this scale.’’
Under Bellevue’s emergency ordinance there are no penalties for operating a boardinghouse in a single-family home until July 2014, when a permanent ordinance will go into effect, say city officials. In the meantime, an ample supply of needy renters is a tempting incentive for developers.

Neighborhoods do change over time, said Councilmember John Chelminiak. And affordable housing is a need.

“That’s something we’ll have to address. How do you make redevelopment occur so the neighborhood feels comfortable with it?’’
 

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honk!!!
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So where are college kids supposed to live? Is skyrocketing tuition really not enough, we have to make them go even more broke to pay ridiculous rents?

I'm so sick of "character" and other BS arguments. This is basically segregation. And it's a message - if you're poor, you're not welcome in Bellevue. If you're young, you're not welcome in Bellevue. If you're black or Hispanic, please, Renton isn't that bad of a commute, so if you could kindly stay down there that would be excellent! These NIMBYs want "family" defined for zoning purposes? Ugh. The same things could be said about a lot of Seattle NIMBYs.

Certain demographic groups "belong" in certain neighborhoods? This is not how zoning should work.

South Bellevue is on an interstate. It has great car and bus access to both downtowns. It has a major and growing college. It is a natural place for more density to occur.

Much of Bellevue is extremely underdeveloped, and especially the neighborhood in question.
 

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If or when Bellevue College starts offering more than applied 4 year degrees which says most of those students work in the area thus not in need of student housing then I can see this becoming an issue but for now I don't see a huge demand for student housing. I wonder if there is a vision to see this become a university down the road. It has almost 1/4 as much land as U of W now although I am not sure if there is additional acres available next to the main campus.
 

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Journeyman
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Are you suggesting that two-year students don't need affordable housing? That's a new one.

I bet the need for affordable housing in Bellevue is massive compared to supply. There aren't generations of old apartments to pick up the slack.
 

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On Google Maps, there are some multifamily housing to the west of Bellevue College which appear to be newer condos. I'll assume those are too expensive for students.

To the northeast, there are two apartment complexes. The furthest one is Hidden Village Estates, which are affordable housing apartments that I can't find more info about. The closest one is The Carrington Apartment Homes, which has a 400 sq ft 1 bed/1 bath for $1202 - $1504, and a 704 sq ft 1 bed/1 bath for $1316 - $1765. That is insane.

Everywhere else consists of parks, single-family homes, churches, office parks, and retail. The main option I see is Bellevue College replacing its large parking lot with a garage, and selling/using the excess land for apartments. The older houses next to the existing parking garage would be a good place for apartments, but I doubt it could be redeveloped anytime soon.
 

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Journeyman
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A lot of "commuter" schools and CCs would do well to add housing. There should be doable ways, maybe public/private with a developer in charge (to avoid initial public expense, but benefit from public interest rates).

Shared rooms might be ok. I'd guess single micro units would go like hotcakes. Maybe some of the 150 sf variety and others (not really micros) more like 300 sf.

SCCC was originally (I think) thinking about housing on top of its parking garage. That would be an excellent site for a few hundred units. I bet NSCC and SCCC students would like that option as well.
 

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If or when Bellevue College starts offering more than applied 4 year degrees which says most of those students work in the area thus not in need of student housing then I can see this becoming an issue but for now I don't see a huge demand for student housing.
Edmonds Community College runs three apartment facilities, and there are a lot more apartments in the area. Bellevue College doesn't run any housing, but they probably need to build some because of the lack of affordable housing for students in the area.
 

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Discussion Starter #90
The DPD is adding design review for aPodments, requiring parking (ugh) for some cases, banning them in SF zones (they already were, but this could harm current room mate situations), and is requiring congregate housing with kitchens in separate units to prove they "regularly and customarily engage in aspects of group or co-dependent living". One might think living in congregate housing by definition shows you engage in group living, no?

Because when something seems to be working in Seattle, neighbors jump to opposing it and the city jumps to make them happy.

Story Notice Code
 

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..is requiring congregate housing with kitchens in separate units to prove they "regularly and customarily engage in aspects of group or co-dependent living". One might think living in congregate housing by definition shows you engage in group living, no?
So the city is now in the business of making sure these people eat Sunday dinners together?
 

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Completely ridiculous. The city claims to want more 'affordable' accommodations but then prepares to regulate a subset of said accommodations out of existence. Then of course, will complain about the lack of 'affordable' living options.....
 

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The DPD is adding design review for aPodments, requiring parking (ugh) for some cases, banning them in SF zones (they already were, but this could harm current room mate situations), and is requiring congregate housing with kitchens in separate units to prove they "regularly and customarily engage in aspects of group or co-dependent living". One might think living in congregate housing by definition shows you engage in group living, no?

Because when something seems to be working in Seattle, neighbors jump to opposing it and the city jumps to make them happy.

Story Notice Code
Can you dumb this down even further for me? I don't understand what the kitchen has to do with anything and what the end goal of this is?

I ask sheepishly...
 

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Discussion Starter #96
Ah, sorry - that's a very reasonable request.

I'll start from the beginning, which I'm sure you know but some might not. aPodments use parts of Seattle's code to avoid design review yet while building many units. Each home in Seattle is allowed 8 people that are unrelated living in that home. If you take a, say, four-plex, each having eight bedrooms, you can have 32 people living in that four-plex. If you're a developer looking to build apartments without going through Seattle's painful processes, you can make each of these bedrooms separately lockable, add a basic kitchen to each (aPodments have a sink, microwave, and a mini-fridge), and you have yourself a 32-unit apartment complex while only having to jump through the easy hoops of a four-plex.

Calhoun (and others) went and did this a few dozen times, greatly increasing the number of cheap (they start at around $500/mo), small, new apartments on/near Cap Hill and UW (where there's the most demand for tiny cheap apartments). Neighbors complained about the 32-unit place that was zoned for only 4 units, and we get the city jumping in to shut down the process. Most of the shutting-down comes from the new design review burden and maybe from new parking regulations.

But in reviewing the code they seem to have realized you could do the same thing, but instead of use 4-plexes you could use the congregate housing piece of the code, and actually give people real kitchens (for some reason it all comes down to kitchens - if aPodments added real kitchens they'd each be considered units instead of bedrooms in a unit). But they also don't want to discourage people from building hippie co-housing, rehab centers, or prisoner release facilities (I'm just guessing). So they added language that you need to smell like one of these places, not just be meeting a market need. Which is crazy, right? Why should they care if the market's meeting a need and the need doesn't involve communal prayer sessions? The answer is because they're really just adding these regulations to satisfy neighbors, and they have more political cover standing up for rehab centers than market-rate apartments.
 

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Oh wow, I appreciate the detailed break down Matt. I just can't understand why people complain about increased density in the densest neighborhoods! I could understand complaints by neighbors of a 32 unit apodment complex in the middle of a SFH neighborhood in say West Seattle but I can't understand the complains on Cap Hill and the U District. If there's a demand for apodments then what are people upset about? The fact that people are moving into their neighborhood? Then move to Chehalis!
 

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Oh wow, I appreciate the detailed break down Matt. I just can't understand why people complain about increased density in the densest neighborhoods! I could understand complaints by neighbors of a 32 unit apodment complex in the middle of a SFH neighborhood in say West Seattle but I can't understand the complains on Cap Hill and the U District. If there's a demand for apodments then what are people upset about? The fact that people are moving into their neighborhood? Then move to Chehalis!
I think I can sum up the angst of aPodments in two words: cars and design. If there was once one house, even a large house that may have had 4 apartment units in it, you probably had 4-8 cars max for that house, and probably parking for two of them off street. Now you have 32 housing units in the same space, and if half the residents have cars, you're up to 16 cars--all of which will be taking up parking spaces on the street.

The design of a podments can be banal at best, with little to curry favor with the neighbors. Where once stood a 2-3 story house, frequently a 4-5 story aPodment takes over and looms over neighbors backyards.

Please note, I support aPodments as a tool for affordability in the neighborhood, but these are the biggest gripes I'm hearing.

What happens with aPodments is over time you either get a big turnover, or those that stay, a lot sell there cars. For the 'out of character' aspect of aPodments, the solution is...more aPodments. If you build a 5 story building nect to a 5 story building, it's more in character.
 

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Are they actually replacing stand alone homes? If that's the case I can understand why people are pushing back. If it's in the dense areas of the city, especially those with good access to transit, I don't understand.
 
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