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Small Lots, Big Houses: New Rules May Create Lot Loopholes

The trend of building massive houses on small lots tucked in-between older, classic homes has divided many in Seattle, especially in neighborhoods like Tangletown, Laurelhurst and Green Lake. That cute bungalow doesn't look quite as attractive when its view is blocked by a three-story monolith next door.

In September, the Seattle City Council put a temporary stoppage on them but a Department of Planning and Development proposal is coming up that might leave a loophole for the small-lot-big-homes to keep growing.

Under the new rules, no lot smaller than 2,000 square feet — less than 0.05 of an acre — could be developed, and the height of new construction would be limited to 18 feet plus a 5-foot pitched roof. The new rules would eliminate the use of historic tax parcels — which don't appear on current city land-use maps — as a basis to qualify a lot smaller than the neighborhood zoning specifies. Sounds easy enough, but then there's this...

The 18-foot height limit could be exceeded if the developer chose a different permit type that required notice to the neighbors. And the rules don't prohibit the use of existing side or back yards to create a new, undersized lot.

The Department of Planning and Development has asked for public comments by Wednesday before drafting their final proposal.
· Would new rules leave loopholes for big houses on small lots? [Seattle Times]