It's been over five years since the City of Seattle passed legislation that effectively ended Seattle's run as an international leader in microhousing. I documented these changes in a series of articles in Sightline. How Seattle Killed Microhousing describes the effects of the legislation on housing production and affordability. How Seattle Killed Microhousing Again describes a failed initiative to get the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection to reconsider some administrative policies that were further inflating the size and cost of people's homes. In the intervening years, a removal of the restrictions on microhousing has been proposed by Mayor Murray's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), and Mayor Durkan's Affordable Middle Income Housing Advisory Council.
The response has been a growing consensus among housing advocates and opinion leaders that changes need to be made. The City Council and the Mayors office have responded with the gentle chirping of crickets. In a political culture obsessed with loud, high-profile, symbolic gestures there never seems to be space on the agenda to consider some simple common sense fixes for microhousing.
Should it be on the agenda? In this talk, given at the 2019 Green Building Slam, I tell the story of The Roost - an artist live-work microhousing community we recently designed and developed in Seattle's Rainier Valley. I make the case for why re-legalizing microhousing should be a priority on our legislative agenda. How many more years and blue ribbon commissions need to pass before we actually do something about it?