March 4

Is the U-District Going Micro?



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Microhousing: Is it a good thing?

Microhousing, also known as a-Pod-ments or stack housing, refers to apartments that offer 100-300 square feet of living space and a private bathroom.

Microhousing is the next-big-thing making its own wave of controversy in the Seattle housing conversation. Riding on the coattails of Seattle’s Townhome Takeover, microhousing proponents have found loopholes in city code to easily get permits for construction, getting past some zoning rules and regulations. Neighbors have complained that these ‘aPodments‘ just seem to ‘pop’ up in their neighborhoods without the proper review process.

The units have no full kitchen but offer a refrigerator and microwave. To create a more social environment, some microhousing complexes are designed with a community kitchen. This type of housing is targeted to students, young professionals and singles. With affordable rents ranging from $500-$1000 including utilities, these mini apartments seem ideal for the University District, but are they?

Some are worried that these micro microhousing complexes crowd too many people together in one area and there is no parking provided. Neighbors are also worried that there is more likelihood of a high turnover of occupants which is not compatible with a safe, family friendly neighborhood.

Is high density, at the cost of family friendly neighborhoods, a sacrifice that needs to be made for affordable housing in the city? Both sides of the issue have interesting points.

A recent Seattle Times article notes that “microhousing provides affordable, transit-friendly options to those for whom the housing industry has previously not given much attention.” On the other side, Kiro7 reported on a heated developers’ meeting last spring over aPodments and some of the concerns from neighbors hinged around being “worried how many people would actually be sleeping in each unit. Others brought up safety concerns like emergency exits”.

With the University District’s changing face, should we be concerned with too many aPodments, or is stack housing a solution for affordable urban living? What do you think?

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