The Seattle City Council on Monday unanimously approved an emergency moratorium on some small-lot development that was allowing three-story homes in existing back and side yards of residential neighborhoods.

The Seattle City Council Monday unanimously approved an emergency moratorium on some small-lot development that was allowing three-story homes in existing back and side yards of residential neighborhoods.

City Councilmember Richard Conlin said the immediate action was needed to prevent further permitting of substandard lots. The parcels don’t exist on city land-use maps and may have been created more than 50 years ago for tax purposes.

About 40 people attended the council hearing, many speaking against the houses that have sprung up in several neighborhoods across the city.

Developers argue that the houses help the city meet its density goals and provide homeowners, some of them elderly, with additional income from a second buildable lot.

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The emergency ordinance does not ban small-lot development such as backyard cottages, which are limited to 800 square feet and no taller than 22 feet.

Another public hearing on the emergency ordinance will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in council chambers.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @lthompsontimes.