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I know there are some homes in Seattle that have MIL apts - either as units in the building with separate entrances, or as separate stand-alone buildings on the property. How are people skirting the ban on these units? I don't think they're all in pre-WWII buildings (and I know one person who built his in the last 5 years). I think MIL apartments add huge value to a single family home, and as you say, can help preserve the feel of a neighborhood while adding bodies.

Posted by genevieve | December 2, 2006 5:25 PM

You've got to be kidding. It sounds so darned cute to call them mother-in-law apartments, how cottage-y and quaint. But that's not what they turn out to be. Have you ever lived next door to a little lean-to that's been packed to the rafters with mom, dad, 2.5 kids, cousins, grandpa, grandma? Don't get me started on how many people are in the main house - OK, I've counted six more adults and their various offspring. The greedy landlord has maximized his buck; the tenants have maximized their rent-buck by squeezing in as many able-bodied wage earners as they could. These people have five cars parked in the alley (often blocking it) and three more cars parked out front (two on the lawn - yeee haw!) Garbage, recycling? The bins overflow and the Wendy's wrappers are like urban tumbleweeds.

This isn't what anyone would consider a "bad" neighborhood either. Houses range from $325K-$675K.

So your image of "mom" knitting away as the scent of baked apple pie wafts out of her adorable little M-i-L is pure Disney skunker bud.

Posted by MARK FARNER | December 2, 2006 5:57 PM

The City currently allows ADUs (accessory dwelling units - the bureacratic term for mother-in-law apartments) within all single family areas. In fact Washington State law requires all Cities to allow them in some form. The City Council passed legislation to allow detached ADUs, like those above a garage, or in a , this past summer. The legislation limited it to Southeast Seattle, which means I won't be able to turn my unused garage into someplace for someone else to live.

But Seattle does permit them, and the rule change for Southeast Seattle was a big story (as far as stories about planning issues go) this past summer.

Posted by lrw | December 2, 2006 6:29 PM

Dan, mix in a clue one time. ADUs have been legal in Seattle for, like, forever, brah.

Posted by Big Wags | December 2, 2006 8:14 PM

yes, I have been able to keep my single family 3 bedroom house.. myself and 2 sons..and a grad student in the basement in my unregistered m-in-law. Is this pack'em in? 1 car in drive, one one street., It would cost me $800, last I checked, to register, not money I have floating aound. If I get caught I'll do it or remove the stove that makes it an apt, not just part of the house. This has given me not just income to keep the house, but at different times, companionship, childcare, and my sanity. How about calling them single mom houses? with all the lonely people, this is just a good all senses, ecologically, economically, socially.

Posted by singlemom | December 2, 2006 8:53 PM

Eric or Josh - please show Dan how Google works - so he can gets his facts straightened out.

Yes, so called m-i-l apts. have been thriving in Seattle, many illegal - I suppose.

I have remodeled many a in city and more out neighborhood homes so the giant garage becomes a separate living unit.

Great idea to create income and the security of other folk living near.

Sam, I do remodel work, great money right now.

Posted by Sandra | December 2, 2006 9:02 PM

Your post is right on.

Several years back I bought my first house in West Seattle. The main reason I settled on the house that I did was that it also had a mother-in-law cottage on the property. This made if possible to afford the property. Something I would not have been able to do without the potential of a having renters in the mother in law who help supplement the mortgage payment.

I lived in the main house for about 5 years renting the mother in law and then I retired. I used the appreciated value from the house to borrow money to buy a nicer home on Vashon Island. I then rented out both the house and the mother in law in West Seattle.

Now I am retired. I manage to get by and enjoy retirement with the income from the property with the mother in law in Seattle and my pension.

I find the city to be very difficult to deal with when it came to the legality of the mother in law. There always was a great deal of bureaucratic red tape and political phyco-babble that seemed to emanate from city hall on the legality of mother in laws. Meanwhile developers often got away with murder.

Seattle absolutely sucks when it comes to leadership from it's politicians. Especially the city council. They endlessly are caught up in studies and hearings. Usually gathering evidence from people who have the least stake in the ultimate outcome of their decisions. Always trying to avoid being pinned down to a hard position on any issue. Note viaduct, Key Arena, public toilets, etc. They often just play it safe.

The Seattle "process" often reflects gutless pandering to those who are perceived to be in style at any given time. I must say that Nickels at least will take a position even if it may not be popular or correct. The city council is another story entirely?

Posted by artistdogboy | December 2, 2006 11:39 PM

I'm just a little country mouse from Port Townsend but I gotta say- for once PT is ahead of the times! ADU's are the THING to DO there. For years. It's a perfect way to up the property value, have a place to rent and/or use as a vacation rental. My mom does this for $150 a night and has it rented 15-20 nights out of the week. My godmother buys old houses, fixes them up then rent/sells them and always builds an ADU on them and she's worth a lot nowadays. I'd suggest it to anyone. Cheap, easy and makes you money. Better than most hookers you can buy.

Posted by jenniferjane | December 2, 2006 11:48 PM

Big Wags--ADU's have been technically legal in Seattle, true. But the restrictions, traffic studies, and fees were ridiculous.

95% of a all ADU's have a very small impact on the neighborhood. They simply make it affordable for many of us to own a house in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

Posted by surf logs kill | December 3, 2006 12:40 AM

We got a permit for an ADU a few years ago--piece of cake. The review was fast, the fees were reasonable, and DPD waived the parking space requirement. We're pulling in regular rental payments that offset a good chunk of the mortgage; life is sweet.

Posted by dzienkowski | December 3, 2006 11:21 AM

A few years back me and two friends rented a house in Portland with a MIL in back.

We basically stopped using the backyard because the guy in the house was the creepiest fucker I never actually met.

Posted by PDXRitchie | December 3, 2006 2:05 PM

Yeah, so I don't know if I'm for or against. I do know that I'm against living near that guy again.

Posted by PDXRitchie | December 3, 2006 2:07 PM

Sorry you didn´t like your neighbor, Ritchie. I cut myself on a kitchen knife once. They should ban ´em.

Is ´Metronatural´ some new Team Donothing slogan for the city? Barf. SUPER-fucking barf. That is such an obscene joke. Ohhh, reading Seattle news makes my eyes bleed, aggghhhhh....

Posted by Grant Cogswell | December 3, 2006 5:10 PM

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