Capitol Hill neighbors angry about microhousing trend



SEATTLE - Neighbors in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood are demanding answers about a new housing trend that squeezes dozens of tiny apartments, each 150 square feet, into one big building.


There are over a dozen such buildings on Capitol Hill.  Neighbors said shoehorning all those people into such a small area is degrading traditional neighborhoods.


A group of more than 100 neighbors did their best to get their message across at a public meeting Monday night.


Packed, ironically, into a small room, neighbors vented their frustration about the recent boom in buildings that house what are called aPodments, rooms the size of a college dormitory that are rented for about $600 a month.


It’s a trend neighbor Gayle McGarvey said is ruining a neighborhood she has lived in for decades.


“Right now, a lot of people are upset and confused they don't know what to expect on the open lot next to them from one day to the next,” said neighbor Jeffrey Cook.


 “I think the changes are being forced down our throats in terms of density and big buildings.  They don't respect the lifestyle on Capitol Hill,” said McGarvey.


Seattle city councilman Richard Conlin was blasted with questions.


One big issue at the meeting was that the layout of the buildings allows developers to sidestep a design review process.


“They are clearly deceiving you and you're allowing them to get away with it,” said an angry neighbor.


Neighbors want the city council to put a moratorium on the buildings until more regulations can be crafted.


“Is there in fact a need for a moratorium?  I am not inclined to do that at this point,” said Conlin.


Conlin said he wants more information and sees a need for more micro-housing.


The Department of Planning and Development would only say that it is looking into the issue. It said the type of structures fall into a gray area of the regulations.

Meanwhile, San Francisco is a step closer to building so-called “shoebox apartments."


A bill to allow the 150 square foot apartments is heading to the mayor's desk.  Rents would start at $900 a month.