New Small Apartment Regulations

The Seattle City Council approved regulations for “small efficiency dwelling units” (SEDU) this week.  The tiny apartments were previously known as “micro-housing” or “aPodments.” 

Since the new housing structures have been popping up throughout the city, leaders, residents, and neighborhoods have been debating how to safely integrate them into the neighborhoods.  The new regulations will dictate where future buildings can be built, sanitation requirements, minimum unit sizes, and design review.  The council says the new rules keep a balance between affordable housing options, livable space, and maintaining the neighborhood characteristics.  The council held months of hearings to get input from builders, renters, and neighbors. 

SEDUs will now be treated as an individual unit to count towards permits, growth targets, and fire and life safety requirements.  The minimum unit size will be 220 square feet.  Congregate housing with small sleeping rooms and shared kitchen and living spaces can only be built in higher density zones in urban villages and urban centers.  The buildings will also have design review requirements, with larger buildings needing more time for the neighborhood to give input on the design to better fit in with neighborhood characteristics. 

Parking requirements will also be put in place.  No parking is needed for urban centers or most urban villages near frequent transit service.  Otherwise, one parking space for every two SEDUs or every four congregate housing buildings will be required.  The new rules will only apply to new small efficiency buildings that begin construction after the legislature takes effect.