Allowing ‘ADUs’ means the end of low-density single-family neighborhoods

Remember that postcard asking “What do YOU think?” Most of us glanced at it, said “Doesn’t affect me… I don’t need a ‘Mother-in-Law apartment’… and tossed it, missing the point. This isn’t about allowing a scattering of houses to get some small features tweaked slightly. It’s about increasing the population, eliminating the whole concept of low-density single-family neighborhoods.

Allowing more and larger apartments, more renters, means every neighborhood will become mid-density, on its way to high.

Imagine if that postcard had read, instead:

How Much Denser Do YOU Want the Population in YOUR Neighborhood to Become? Tukwila is considering allowing ADUs in all neighborhoods, on smaller plot sizes, in three basic forms with amnesty for owners of units already in place.

Concern for homelessness and the high cost of housing has nothing to do with the proposed weakening of zoning codes and ordinances. No one would build an ADU to give to a homeless person; nor would ADUs, even by ruining our low-density residential neighborhoods with apartments on every single newly-divided plot, would produce the slightest decline in housing costs over the whole greater Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area. Only large-scale high-rise construction of hundreds and thousands of new rental units could do that.

About ADUs as help for retirees to pay property taxes: King County already has a program to protect them from significant increases due to special levies, stabilizing tax bills at prior levels.

To say homeowners should rent ADUs, to afford to live in their homes, is to turn the problem inside out. They’re to preserve their lifestyle by becoming landlords, changing their own property, and that of their neighbors, from low-density single-family residences to multifamily — what a bizarre “solution”!

It’s argued that since ADUs exist, laws should be weakened to accept them, with amnesty offered to the illegal units’ owners. This amounts to saying Tukwila has no right to make and enforce ANY ordinances about neighborhood zoning!

That could be solved by permitting a few ADUs, on a case-by-case basis. It would be fair to deal with family hardship cases such as a “Mother-in-Law apartment” to care for an aging parent, or perhaps house a college-bound relative. If facilities otherwise met well-thought out ordinances for livability and safety, a permit could be issued to allow an ADU for a reasonable time, expiring when that case was done, and the ADU prevented from just being rented out. Later, a new use could be approved, again for a reasonable time for a reasonable purpose. The point is: there should NOT be blanket permission for everyone to subdivide their property to make rental units –neighbors and neighborhoods be hanged!

More people crowding into existing neighborhoods means more clutter, more noise, more pollution, less greenery, more parking hassles, more traffic to endanger kids at play or going to school, or anyone just out for a walk around the block. –With ever more chances for disputes among increasingly-crowded neighbors. That is wrong; Tukwila homeowners should have the right to live in their single-family residential neighborhoods.

Tukwila’s Department of Community Development has recommended permitting ADUs to the City Council, which will formally consider the issue at its June 25th meeting. NOW what do you think?

Scott Kruize

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