What The Proposed Residential Infill Zoning Means For Laurelhurst
August 2, 2016
The City is considering zoning changes to increase density in neighborhoods that are currently zoned for single family houses.
The Residential Infill Project ("RIP") proposal will directly affect Laurelhurst, by permitting cottage apartment complexes on double lots, triplexes on corner lots, duplexes on every lot, and up to four households living in four separate housing units on every lot.
The city is taking residents’ feedback until August 15, 2016, when the Bureau of Planning will write a final proposal for the City Council. It is important for Laurelhurst’s voice to be heard. Complete and submit the online survey http://residentialinfill.participate.online/share-feedback
Proposed RIP changes apply to neighborhoods within 1/4 mile of "centers and corridors", which includes Laurelhurst. See the City's map below: the yellow areas would all be covered by RIP.
Proposed restrictions on house size.
The RIP changes will limit maximum size of houses to 2,500 sq ft on 5,000 sq ft lots, the typical Laurelhurst lot. 10,000 sq ft double lots could have larger houses. This would prohibit new or remodeled homes from being much larger than the average Laurelhurst house. RIP will also reduce maximum height of houses to 30 feet for pitched roofs (measured at mid-point of slope) and 25 feet for flat roofs. Measure height from the lowest grade; for example, if the lot is lower at the front and slopes up to the rear, measure from the front of the house. Dormers will be limited in size. This would limit new or remodeled houses to two stories plus attic. Finally, RIP will increase front setback to 15 feet, unless an adjacent house has a smaller front setback. Retain existing 5 foot side and rear setbacks, allow eaves and bay windows to project into setback. Note that front yards 15 feet deep are already typical in Laurelhurst.
Proposed accessory dwelling unit allowances.
RIP will allow two accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on a lot, in addition to the single family house. ADUs can be internal to the house such as a basement apartment, or detached such as a garage conversion or a new structure up to 800 sq ft. A third ADU may be allowed as a “bonus” if one of the units is affordable, accessible, or internal to the house. This would permit most Laurelhurst lots to be occupied by up to four households.
Proposed duplex allowances.
Under RIP, duplexes will be allowed on all lots. Currently duplexes are allowed only on corner lots. Under the proposal, every single family house in Laurelhurst could be replaced with, or converted to, a duplex. Each duplex would be allowed an ADU plus possibly another “bonus” ADU.
Proposed triplex allowances.
Triplexes will be allowed on corner lots, under RIP. Currently triplexes are not allowed in Laurelhurst. This would permit any corner house in Laurelhurst to be demolished and replaced with a triplex.
Proposed small apartment clusters.
RIP will allow “cottage apartment clusters” on double lots (10,000 sq ft). Currently multifamily housing is not allowed in Laurelhurst. This would permit complexes of small houses or apartments on every Laurelhurst double lot.
What would this mean for Laurelhurst?
Developers are already trying to buy and demolish century-old houses in our neighborhood, to build modern houses, often very large ones, that often don't fit the character and architecture of Laurelhurst.
If the proposed RIP (residential infill project) zoning changes are adopted by the City Council - potentially in early 2017 - developers will have even more incentive to demolish our older houses, because they will be able to build two and even three houses (duplexes and triplexes) on the same lot. By demolishing a house on a double lot, they will be able to build small apartment complexes.
Under the RIP changes, we can expect many more Laurelhurst houses to be torn down, and many duplexes, triplexes, and even small apartment complexes to be built in our neighborhood.