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Monday, March 24, 2014

People Who Live in Microhousing Are Community Members

Posted by on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 12:36 PM

On the other hand, the people fighting microhousing, also known under the brand name aPodments, are anti-housing activists.

  • Via Slog tipper Drew

"I saw these in my neighborhood today and thought the Slog may be interested. Another attempt at misinformation and demonization of microhousing," says Slog tipper Drew. "I live in microhousing and think it's awful what the NIMBYS are doing to demonize honest, hard working people who want to live in Seattle."

The people fighting so-called microhousing often call themselves "community leaders." They call themselves "neighborhood activists." They're actually dividing communities and neighborhoods by trying keep out working-class renters. These smaller new microhousing apartments that each have their own bathrooms, utilities, and furnishings and then share—this is not a bad thing—a common kitchen among eight people are wonderful (and far more affordable) for certain people. Not perfect for everyone, of course, but there are lots different types of housing for different types of folks.

These anti-housing activists aren't telling the truth. These buildings are not "out-of-scale" or responsible for the "degradation of our neighborhoods." Their arguments are overwhelmingly wrong. Microhousing can only be built in the 11 percent of Seattle that's designated for dense residential construction, so these buildings are not out of scale or character—they're not in single family neighborhoods—but, again, are only being built in the few parts of Seattle reserved for apartment buildings. So Drew is right: These activists are demonizing good people who need a place to live and essentially trying to push them out of town. The folks responsible for the "degradation of our neighborhoods" are the anti-housing activists.


Comments (51) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Bullshit! A 5 story tower in a single family house parcel, like 741 Harvard Ave E, surrounded by single family houses is a disgrace. Add to the new 50 residents, all the friends and family that come to visit, and that have to gather in the street (unless you want a Marx Brothers Cabin type of event in the apodment). A bunch of people perpetually in the street and a continuous Block Party! Apodments make sense in streets with social services (parking, coffee shops, etc) that support and complement them. In a residential street in the middle of nowhere is plain crazy.
Posted by choto on March 24, 2014 at 12:56 PM · Report this
What developers want, developers get.
Posted by Roger Exxon Valdez on March 24, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Report this
'These buildings are not "out-of-scale"'
"...they're not in single family neighborhoods—but, again, are only being built in the few parts of Seattle reserved for apartment buildings."

My wife drove by the Apodments on Cap Hill (Videre by name) and was shocked by the massive size difference, and the proximity to single family dwellings (the entire other side of 23rd is single family dwellings, literally "across the street"). You can say they aren't out of scale all you want, but the people who pass by them and practically reel in shock might disagree with you.
Posted by You didn't Google Street view this, did you? on March 24, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Report this
"out working-class renters."

Is that what you call white kids with college degrees slumming it for a few years as baristas before they grow up and get a law degree?
Posted by Holden doesn't know working class from his asshole on March 24, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Make sure to point to these people when someone complains about high rents, or a lack of urban density that allows for things like effective mass transit.
Posted by Solk512 on March 24, 2014 at 1:16 PM · Report this
Not only are they not "out-of-scale", but they aren't any bigger than other building which are allowed. That is why the comments for 1, 2 and 3 are completely wrong. Maybe you don't understand. It is really simple. For most neighborhoods, they limit the size of the building. In the neighborhoods in question, they allow very big buildings. In other words, there is nothing stopping anyone from building a really large, single family house next to an Apodment. If Apodments are outlawed (or they put some limit on the number of units) then you could still build a building just as high, but simply put fewer people in them.

This is why comment #4 is completely wrong. Fewer units mean higher prices, even if you don't live in an Apodment. It's that simple.
Posted by Ross on March 24, 2014 at 1:26 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 7
They're actually dividing communities and neighborhoods by trying keep out working-class renters.

Who will be there for six months. Remind us, Dominic, how long did you live in your aPodment?
Posted by keshmeshi on March 24, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Report this
@6, why don't you use Google Street view to look at these large, single family homes you are talking about. I'd do it for you, but the link would get chopped up. These houses look to be maybe 1,500 square feet, on a good day. It wouldn't surprise me if some next to Videre are sub 1,000 square feet.
Don't just say they are not out of scale, use the internet. If we are so wrong, prove it. You have the tools, you have the power. We've given you two complaint locations. Go to it.
Posted by Google Street view. Do you use it mfer? on March 24, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 9
@7: citation needed. You apparently know the average lease length for these buildings, so kindly put up.
Posted by Doctor Memory on March 24, 2014 at 1:35 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 10
Also, a general LOL about people complaining that buildings are "out of scale." You do realize that what you're saying is "whatever developer first put together this neighborhood 40 years ago gets to set the height limit in perpetuity," right?
Posted by Doctor Memory on March 24, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
I think it's very irresponsible to paint opponents of aPodments as "anti housing" or NIMBYs simply because they raise serious questions about about what kind of urban development is sustainable in residential neighborhoods. Yes, some opponents raise questions about the kind of people who will live in aPodments, and that's not appropriate, but many more are asking valid questions about parking (most aPodments are being built with zero on-site parking in neighborhoods that are already RPZ due to limited on-street availability) and other quality of life issues. Meanwhile, saying that these developments aren't "out-of-scale" simply doesn't pass the laugh test: their physical size AND their resident capacity are almost always out of character with the neighborhoods in which they are being built.
Posted by SuperSteve on March 24, 2014 at 1:40 PM · Report this
meanie 12
This map should accompany any talk about housing, rentals zoning, or micro whatever.…
Posted by meanie on March 24, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
@10, I realize that is what you're projecting onto people, yes. I WANT APODMENTS. They fill a necessary niche in the community. But where to place them and how to connect them to the surrounding community is an important step in promoting them.
Videre at the very least simply does not do this. There are, in that respect, "bad" Apodments in Seattle. Those "bad" Apodments are giving the movement as a whole a bad name. Shouldn't we fix this relatively small issue so that we can make the best out of this needed resource?
Posted by Have you tried using Google Street view yet? on March 24, 2014 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Why can't Dom and his friends live in Tukwila or Seatac and take that train in they love so much? Oh that's right, too many coloreds and actual working class down there for them.

Apodments = white hipsters housing.
Posted by Roger Exxon Valdez on March 24, 2014 at 1:55 PM · Report this
I think charging $800/month for a place that doesn't have a kitchen or space for both a sofa and a bed is crappy, BUT I haven't seen any complaints about incredibly expensive apartment houses being placed in the same type of neighborhoods. And heresy though this may be, worrying about the loss of tree canopy in Seattle is ridiculous.
Posted by sarah70 on March 24, 2014 at 1:57 PM · Report this
@6 - physical size isn't the only element of 'scale' - you need to consider the local impact of an 8,000 sq/ft aPodment building housing 32 people versus an 8,000 sq/ft apartment or condo building with 8-12 units. Most apartments have at least some parking while most aPodments have none, and it's beyond credibility to assume that a building with dozens of residents (plus occasional guests) won't need parking. Add on issues with garbage, noise, and transit access and there's a huge impact regardless of whether the aPodments are being occupied by starving students, working class people, or 32 dot-com millionaires who simply prefer a spartan lifestyle.
Posted by Mike McGinn on March 24, 2014 at 2:04 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 17
On a related note, has the city council even bothered closing the developer loophole on these things, where they're bypassing the most basic design review normally required of multifamily housing?


I don't have any. There is no data on these things, which is part of the reason why I think Dominic is full of shit. Also, as much as he claims that this kind of housing is just great!, he was only able to stand it for six months.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 24, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 18
@17: so you're countering Dom's alleged shit-fullness by making up your own facts? Cool strategy there, bro.
Posted by Doctor Memory on March 24, 2014 at 2:21 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 19

Are you trying to imply that people living in aPodments are going to be there over the long haul? That's pretty hilarious.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 24, 2014 at 2:29 PM · Report this
I'll wait until I see actual rent prices in these microhousing units before I decide how I feel about them. If implemented fairly they can provide much needed housing for lower-income households. If implemented carelessly, rents will still be too high and people will simply pay more for less. I don't trust developers or real estate/property management companies one iota, and I'll believe these units are affordable and have a concrete positive impact on reducing rents when I see it. Generally, the only thing that can keep rental prices down are government-imposed controls. If people are so desperate to live here that they're willing to pay rent at current rates for it, the market won't magically lower the prices. In largely unregulated housing markets it's not unusual for families to pay insane rent to squeeze into a tiny 300 square foot closet. Don't be so sure that density will automatically bring prices down.
Posted by Jizzlobber on March 24, 2014 at 2:40 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 21
@19: I'm not implying a damn thing. I'm stating flat out: your "six months" estimate is full of shit until you show me a source. What's the actual average? I don't know and right now neither do you.
Posted by Doctor Memory on March 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
"much needed housing for lower-income households."

Households? So they're family sized rabbit hutches now. Can't wait to see how many working class families flock to get one.

Apodments = housing for white college kids who don't want to live in tukwilla or seatac bit live a few years in the big city in a dorm.
Posted by Roger Exxon Valdez on March 24, 2014 at 3:31 PM · Report this
TVDinner 23
@11: You know what else doesn't pass the laugh test? The assertion that this kind of housing cannot be "sustained." What in the hell does that even mean? Smaller, denser housing that doesn't subsidize car ownership is by definition the most sustainable.

Your complaints about parking, I think, are closer to what bugs you. I think it's about damn time car owners started paying something close to the real cost of owning them. If storing your car on the street begins to approximate the actual price of that real estate it occupies, I think it's only fair.

What isn't fair is expecting people in more sustainable housing to subsidize the cost of your car ownership.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on March 24, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Report this
SPG 24
The shared kitchen of "micro housing" or "Apodments" has been used to dodge some pretty basic building codes that would and should apply to any kind of apartment building, like FIRE ESCAPES or even basic alternative egress. Pack 40 people into a four story building that skimps by on code for a house of 4 people and wait for one of them to leave a candle burning or have a smoke in bed…we'll all be crying about how nobody could have foreseen the safety hazard as we bury a couple dozen tenants.
Posted by SPG on March 24, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Report this
SPG 25
To clarify my post above… the micro housing isn't the problem. The dodging of the building and zoning codes is. Because these don't actually count as apartment buildings, they can and are built in zones that wouldn't allow for apartment buildings. If these were better regulated for safety and neighborhood impact, I think we'd all be just fine with them. Instead what we have is a cash grab by developers who don't have to live next to them, let alone in them.
Posted by SPG on March 24, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
@23 What isn't fair is expecting people in more sustainable housing to subsidize the cost of your car ownership.

Yes, which is why people in apodments (and all new construction) should build 1 off-street parking space per bedroom... at least 2 spaces for every 3 bedrooms. Or the residents should be banned from owning a vehicle entirely.
Posted by ChefJoe on March 24, 2014 at 3:54 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 27
Oh lord. Must be spring. Time for Dom's annual shilling for developers.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on March 24, 2014 at 3:55 PM · Report this
TVDinner 28
@26: Right. That's a great idea for affordable housing.

Posted by TVDinner http:// on March 24, 2014 at 3:59 PM · Report this
TVDinner 29
@26: Also, why should they be banned from having cars? So the people who've been parking at the curb longer get to continue to do so? Huh. I see no possible downside to that!
Posted by TVDinner http:// on March 24, 2014 at 4:02 PM · Report this
@24, @25 - Just about every single one of your statements is factually wrong. You're simply parroting the talking points of Greg Hill. Hill has made these same "safety" claims at several public meetings. Time and again, the Planning Dept, the Fire Dept and every other agency that would know has testified that his claims are 100% incorrect. Sam Bellamino has a better track record of truthful public comment than Greg Hill.

As for your claim that these buildings are built in zones that wouldn't allow for apartment buildings, can you provide us with a single example? According to the project list provided by the anti-apodment groups, every single one of these projects is being built on land zoned LR or MR. These are multifamily zones, intended specifically for this type of density.

Somehow I doubt that if your non-existent claims were satisfied that you'd suddenly be fine with this type of housing.
Posted by CD Dawn on March 24, 2014 at 4:23 PM · Report this
fletc3her 31
Your new building is wrecking my view of the other buildings!
Posted by fletc3her on March 24, 2014 at 4:28 PM · Report this
When they're built, they're built by developers saying the residents won't need parking spots because they're hyper-urban mass transit/bike users. Whatever.

When it comes time to sign leases, cheaper is generally appealing and the landlord really doesn't care too much about if you're trying to park on the street or not... the fact that you can afford a car probably looks like a plus.

End result is developer has their cake, and eats it too.. rest of the neighbors be damned.
Posted by ChefJoe on March 24, 2014 at 4:32 PM · Report this
@23, if you're going to wonder what "sustainable" means in a comment by someone else, it's not kosher to use "sustainable" in your own comment without defining it.
Posted by sarah70 on March 24, 2014 at 6:07 PM · Report this
And I really think that "sustainable" means "I like it", and "not sustainable", of course, means "I don't like it and you're wrong for liking it."

So maybe no definition needed.
Posted by sarah70 on March 24, 2014 at 6:09 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 35
Sustainable means not consuming resources at a rate that would require 3 more Earths if everyone lived that way. Subsidized parking and other cost shifting is not sustainable. Consuming less is more sustainable.

Microhousing consumes less. The people complaining are angry because their free lunch is coming to an end. They're not complaining about losing anything of their own. It's the loss of public resources they've been making personal use of that makes them go into histrionics.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 24, 2014 at 6:22 PM · Report this
disintegrator 36
Hm. Fact is, Seattle density is going up. Fact is, this is one way in which it's going up. Fact is, noone's suggested another free-market way for it to go up in the lower income brackets, and unless we're willing to take a look at rent control (something I'm not convinced that we're willing to do) this is how the market is meeting the demand for our service workers to live somewhere vaguely near to where they work.

Or would you consign them all to Kent, and three hours of commuting a day?
Posted by disintegrator on March 24, 2014 at 6:30 PM · Report this
"Microhousing consumes less. "

Run that thought in the Green Washer a few more times.
Posted by Roger Exxon Valdez: Professional Greenwasher on March 24, 2014 at 6:33 PM · Report this
@35 - unless aPodment dwellers are expressly prohibited from having cars, their aPodments-sans-parking are relying on subsidized street parking. Most homes, apartments and condos have parking for at least some, but not all cars. Given this reality, ALL new development should have on-site-parking, the delusions day-dreaming of 'no one needs a car' density advocates notwithstanding.
Posted by SuperSteve on March 24, 2014 at 7:57 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 39

Why? Where you live somehow entitles you to street parking subsidized by the taxpayer?

Why not prohibit homeowners from parking on the street? Why not prohibit owners of large or medium sized condos from parking on the street? What reason is there to discriminate against people in microhousing? It's just weird to single that group out.

Is your logic that if a person pays for off street parking for one of their cars, the taxpayer must subsidize one extra street parking spot for them? Whatever for?

If anything, people consuming the least resources should be given preference to those pursuing an unsustainable lifestyle. Or else don't manipulate the parking market any further and simply let the limited supply of street parking be allocated first come, first serve.

If you want to feel entitled to parking, then buy parking. When your name is on the spot, then you're entitled to have it. Anybody parks in the spot you paid for, then have a cow. If you don't care enough about parking to buy it, then don't expect to always find a spot.

This isn't about apodments at all. It's about density. As density goes up, the price of parking approaches market rate. The only way to avoid that is limit density and that is unsustainable.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 24, 2014 at 8:29 PM · Report this
DOUG. 40
RPZs should be city-wide. $100 a year for a sticker.
Posted by DOUG. on March 24, 2014 at 8:57 PM · Report this
@39 - what part of my comment "ALL new development should have on-site-parking" don't you understand? There are already far too many cars parked on streets - especially on arterials where they hinder the efficient flow of traffic, particularly buses, and put cyclists at risk of getting 'doored.' It's not realistic to require most existing structures to retrofit on-site parking, but going forward we should acknowledge the need by requiring new homes, condos, apartments, and aPodments to provide on-site parking so that on-street parking is available (except on arterials) for guests, visitors, deliveries, etc.
Posted by SuperSteve on March 24, 2014 at 9:26 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 42
Oh dear lord. People have turned this into a parking debate? No.

There are two real debates going on here:

1) aPODments are driving rents up across the city. By making a bunch of tiny shitty apartments with a not-that-fucking-cheap rent, the average rent in the city and the districts are being reported as artificially lower than the actual rate they've been climbing. Besides that, by having shitty closets that are charging like $800/mth, the ACTUAL studios that used to be $800 are now going up to $1200/1300, and those rates just go up from there. The artificially lower average rent allows the developers and the city to deceive the public about how much rent for real apartments is actually going up, and also to deceive the public about the decreases in living conditions. Microhousing is OK if it is kept at rates that are actually cheap and they're not in direct competition with actual housing, neither condition are actually being met.

2) aPODments are actually skirting a lot of regulations and assessments by claiming to be one thing and being another. Due to there being no direct laws about these hybrid things, they are completely skirting regulations and design process approvals. This is wrong on many levels.

The problem is, shills for developers, like Dominic, want to misdirect you and make you believe that the whole controversy is over fear of poor people. That's not the whole story. Dominic is pushing for a degradation of quality of life for poor people by making them live in rather substandard living conditions, and making them pay through the nose for the privilege. Also, by further encouraging the rates for normal places of living to skyrocket, Dominic is pushing out any of the poorer people who want to start families.

I think there's been like 2 or 3 articles in 5-7 years on what the City Council has deemed to be acceptable rents for low income housing, and those rents are absurd. The Stranger has also written, occasionally, on the lack of stiffness of penalties for not providing sufficient low income housing in new development, and hasn't pushed for much advocacy to strengthen those penalties. At least not compared to the amount of cocksucking that Dominic does for the aPODment kings.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on March 25, 2014 at 12:08 AM · Report this
1) aPODments are driving rents up across the city.

can you demonstrate that @42? shit or get off the pot
Posted by 740 on March 25, 2014 at 3:37 AM · Report this
44 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
I always get a kick out of people who complain about people who own or are paying on single family homes and their 'free' use of public streets. Ever heard of property taxes?
Posted by F'n F'gs on March 25, 2014 at 9:08 AM · Report this
but many more are asking valid questions about parking

By people who seem to be under the impression they have an easement right to free or near-free government provided car storage adjacent to their home.
Posted by david jw on March 25, 2014 at 9:42 AM · Report this
Apodments are a fantastic idea if you're trying to engineer a situation where you do have some of the younger, able-bodied kind of poor people* nearby to staff your neighborhood bars and restaurants, but not any of those problematic poor people with children**.


* preferably with political leanings and personality types suitable for communal living

** and the local public resource consumption that kids soak up

*** and if you charge a bit more than can be afforded with social security as sole income, you can also keep out the kind of poor people who are just too old to do any of your nearby low-wage labor.
Posted by robotslave on March 25, 2014 at 10:45 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 48
@41- Or you can try to build a city that works without putting everyone in cars, which is a much better and cheaper idea.

@45- Yes, property taxes...which all of us pay and those of us who live without cars are getting ripped off by because I'm subsidizing on-street parking for a bunch of assholes (many of whom in my neighborhood have driveways and garages they put their car in). Fuck, I've even got a parking spot at my $800 a month one bedroom apartment. I'm subsidizing all those assholes in my building too.

@47- So where do you think poor people should live in Seattle?
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 25, 2014 at 1:16 PM · Report this
@48- when we live in that city, you can talk about getting rid of parking requirements for new development. Not before.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on March 25, 2014 at 1:22 PM · Report this
I think the parking thing has been well-covered. So let's move on to community...

Please, try to convince us that the majority (or even a small minority) of apodment-dwellers intend to live in that apodment their entire life, or even more than a few years. Doubtful.

After a few years, most *regular studio* dwellers start to realize that, yahknow, it's actually nice to have a place to watch movies, have dinner, or a few beers/wine with friends/family... Yahknow, without having to clean your bedroom beforehand, and fold up the futon, and and and... And that for most people the friend/family "network" is larger than just those who live in your building/floor (or share your kitchen). To be able to invite guests to a setting where you don't have to PAY (and *expect your guests to pay*) just for the pleasure of sitting together (e.g. bars, restaurants, theaters...). As far as I'm aware, apodments would make this even more difficult.

At some point these people's friends might start to realize "hey, wait a minute... how is it that *I* always have to host? Why doesn't host a gathering every once in a while?" And at some point that person might start to think "yahknow, dude likes to think he's all green, but he's just a friggin' cheapskate and a user."

And, at some point, probably several years down the line, dude starts to realize "yahknow, this lifestyle isn't sustainable" and "I thought I was being green, but instead I was passing my carbon-footprint off onto others."
Posted by ewh on March 25, 2014 at 6:18 PM · Report this

Deciding where poor people ought to live is exactly what I feel I shouldn't be doing. They already have preferences of their own about that, after all, and it seems more than a little cruel to enable said preferences only for those who happen to be young, healthy, and childless.
Posted by robotslave on March 25, 2014 at 7:53 PM · Report this

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