The Northwest Chapter of the Congress of Residential Architects (CORA) has been presenting proposed revisions to Seattle’s multifamily code to neighborhood councils. I just attended their presentation at the Sunset Hill Community Association sponsored by the Crown Hill Business Association.
David Neiman of CORA gives an outstanding presentation about how most of the things single family neighborhoods hate about townhouses, are, ironically, driven by the effort to make them more like single family homes; a yard, set back from the street and a place to park a car.
In many respects the puzzle of how to fit four houses on a lot, with private open space, setbacks and parking was never meant to be solved.
But the off the shelf four-pack plans emerged as the solution, making these kinds of town homes profitable. Parking requirements make townhouses parking solutions, not housing solutions. Could we just remove parking and set back requirements from L-3 and L-4 zones and go from there?
CORA’s proposal focuses on addressing the biggest complaints about townhouses. If design is the biggest part of why neighborhoods object to town homes, then why not use design review to free the townhouse from the single family corset so they can be responsive to the needs of the end user, neighborhoods and the region’s need to accommodate growth.
CORA’s proposal is trying to get more density through better design. The question is, will single family neighborhoods relent in their opposition to density in exchange for better design of townhouses?
Will the administrative process that is run entirely by DPD satisfy their need to get the outcomes they want? The proposal is likely to come before Council early next year.
On my walk to the Community Center, I stumbled upon these little gems called the 60th Street Cottages. I don’t know how they were received by the neighborhood, but they look like what we were talking about.