Recent changes to regulations in Seattle made the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) more attractive and local property owners are responding:
The addition of accessory dwelling units in Seattle has surged since 2019, when the city revamped its regulations to encourage their creation, pitching the units as a way to add density gently and provide a wider menu of living opportunities in neighborhoods dominated by single houses.
Almost 1,000 ADUs were permitted last year, up from 280 in 2019. That’s a 250% increase.
How does this compare to the amount of housing needed?
The state must add 55,000 homes per year over the next 20 years to meet demand, according to Department of Commerce projections published last week. More than half must be affordable to low-income residents, and new homes are needed at all income levels, the projections said…
ADUs remain a relatively minor component of Seattle’s housing production, given that more than 11,000 homes were built last year in multifamily structures like apartment buildings and town houses…
Will these new units prove to be the answer to affordable housing? In terms of sheer numbers, the quick answer seems to be: not yet. This pace would need to pick up and/or continue for a while.
Additionally, as the article discusses, who is building these units and who is living in them? If they are primarily built and rented by wealthier property owners, does this further housing inequality?
It will also be interesting to see how the increasing density in neighborhoods affects everyday life. Will residents find additional units on properties preferable to multifamily dwellings?