DADU, Da Done: Seattle’s cottage experiment a success

Our own Mike Podowski is featured in an article in Governing Magazine about Seattle’s modest experiment with cottage housing, also known as the Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit or DADU. I wrote earlier about DADUs and posted a picture that created quite an uproar on my Facebook page.

Dan Bertolet?

Mike Podowski?

Podowski, who bears an eerie resemblance to Dan Bertolet (seriously, have you ever seen them in the same room together) of City Tank fame, is quoted by Governing here:

But after the city’s three-year experiment with [D]ADUs in the southeast part of town, Podowski’s office conducted a survey of residents living near a permitted backyard cottage to gauge the impact the units had on neighborhoods. What the city found was something of a surprise. Eighty-four percent of the respondents said the [D]ADUs hadn’t had any discernible impact on parking or traffic. What’s more, most people didn’t even know they lived near an [D]ADU, says Podowski. “More than half of them didn’t even realize there was a unit next door. It really helped us to show that a lot of the fears people had about these were not going to be realized.”

It’s kind of what we all knew would happen, so I’m surprised the City’s surprised. I’ve always been a bit crazy about land use. A few years ago I drove all over Southeast Seattle and visited, photographed, and mapped every DADU permitted during the test phase of the DADU program. The article I wrote didn’t end up being about DADUs at all, but here’s my map:

I found all kinds of things out there. Big fugly DADUs, converted garages, and small unobtrusive cottages that were hard to even pick out of the crowd of houses on the block. Maybe I’ll post some of the pictures later. The DADU program which was originally tentative and limited, hasn’t sparked a flood of requests for permits. Nor has it created any of the problems skeptics worried about. By any measure it was a success.

The real problem, I think, is we aren’t encouraging the building of more cottages. I think that might happen if we gave some kind of tax break for building them or figured out some kind of incentive or bonus. We ought to be permitting and building more DADUs. As Podowski points out, “the fears people had about these were not going to be realized.” Or was that Bertolet?

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3 Responses to DADU, Da Done: Seattle’s cottage experiment a success

  1. According to the city, there have been about 60 permitted since the ordinance went into effect, and I’m eager to do a drive by tour once the city releases the results of the report summarizing those built to date.

    We have designed three of those, two of which are nearing completion. See the following links to our blog for more information:

    http://www.castarchitecture.com/blog/phinney-ridge-backyard-cottage/

    http://www.castarchitecture.com/blog/blogging-a-seattle-backyard-cottage-–-design-development-a-cast-architecture-case-study-project/

  2. Pingback: Take a letter Maria . . . | Seattle's Land Use Code

  3. Pingback: In search of . . . land use Doppelgängers | Seattle's Land Use Code

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