I’m a Seattle architect, developer and landlord, and a proponent of accessory dwelling units and detached accessory dwelling units. The ADU in my house was one of the first permitted by the City of Seattle 25 years ago.
I’m also an advocate for strong communities and local investment. That’s why the owner-occupancy requirement for ADUs should be maintained in upcoming legislation. This conflict isn’t between homeowners and renters. It’s between those with a social stake in their community (homeowners and renters) and those without (absentee investors). Profit from ADU rental should stay in the community.
Renters often become friends with homeowners who may keep rents low to encourage them to stay. The owner-occupancy requirement may also make existing modest houses less attractive for speculation and redevelopment.
Other methods can better support strong communities while encouraging the construction of ADUs and DADUs. The city could waive permit fees, reduce the parking requirement and stop requiring separate utility hookups for DADUs. Tax relief could be offered to homeowners who make ADUs available to low-income renters.
There is a surge of ADUs being constructed under the existing rules. Council members should pay attention to what’s already working.
Jerry Jutting, Seattle