Seattle Could Ban McMansions

June 7, 2019
Seattle
Photo: Unsplash/Taylor Vick

Proposed legislation in Seattle could ban large new homes while easing restrictions on accessory dwelling units.

The ban, proposed by City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, “would encourage property owners to build new houses with accessory units, add accessory units to existing homes or just do nothing,” according to the Seattle Times. “At the same time, the large-house ban would take away a popular home-building option.”

Under O’Brien’s legislation, which his sustainability committee will begin discussing Wednesday, the city would adopt a maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 0.5 for new houses on most lots. For example, a new house on a 5,000-square-foot lot could have no more than 2,500 square feet of above-ground living space for a single family (not including accessory-unit space). A new house on a 6,000-square-foot lot could have no more than 3,000 square feet of single-family space, and a house on a 7,000-square-foot lot could have no more than 3,500 square feet.

“You see people who tear down a house and build a larger house that may be out of scale and that doesn’t add any housing,” the council member said. “They’re replacing a less-expensive housing unit with a more-expensive housing unit. That’s taking us in the wrong direction.”

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