Who Gets Hurt by Passing the Big House, Small Lot ‘Emergency’ Measure?

My last post was about the Constitutionality of Councilmember Richard Conlin’s emergency legislation to stop big houses on small lots.

I mentioned that any use of the emergency police powers of the city would have to pass the Petsteltest. That test requires that police powers being invoked by Conlin under Article XI Section 11 of the State Constitution meet certain minimum requirements. One of those is that the action taken under use of those powers not be “confiscatory.”

Courts usually give lots of discretion to local jurisdictions when using their police powers. But it’s hard to see how big houses on little lots is a health or safety emergency. In fact, Diane Sugimura, head of the Department of Planning and Development, stated to me explicitly that this was not a health and safety issue.

But is Conlin’s legislation confiscatory? Does the legislation take something away from property owners without due process? If it does it fails Petstel

Let’s hear from someone who is being negatively impacted by the “emergency.” This letter, sent to all Councilmembers, speaks for itself:

Subject: Emergency Ordinance 117572 – Small Lot Prohibition

As an affected homeowner of historic lots under the so called “historic lot provision exemption” (approximately 9000 sf) with my home on 1 1/3 of the lots, I feel I am an interested party to these proceedings and I further wish the council to remove the emergency designation of this bill, so that homeowners such as myself have enough time to research and digest the effect and ramifications of this legislation, if passed.

I am not a greedy or opportunistic developer, I am merely someone who wishes to be a good steward of the property my mother has called home since 1956.

She is now 87 years old and may well require the eventual sale of her home to provide for her continuing care.

The sale of a part of her property to developers may well provide her an opportunity to remain in her home for a longer period of time.

So, at first view, this bill is not helpful to us citizens and homeowners in similar circumstances and secondly, the emergency designation of this bill does not provide folks like me adequate time to make a stronger case for our views on it.

Please reconsider.

Finally, please forgive my for writing you instead of attending the Monday meeting. Monday is quite short notice and I have other commitments to attend to.

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2 Responses to Who Gets Hurt by Passing the Big House, Small Lot ‘Emergency’ Measure?

  1. Pingback: Reader Comment: Big Houses, Little Lots, and the Spirit of the Code | Seattle's Land Use Code

  2. Pingback: Where Is the Future of Single-Family? Try the Past | Seattle's Land Use Code

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