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Is Seattle about to do away with single-family zoning?

City reportedly working on zoning overhaul

Real estate in Seattle could be on the verge of a seismic shift, thanks to a plan that’s working its way through the city’s governmental process.

According to a report from The Seattle Times, Seattle is considering a plan to do away with single-family zoning within the city and replace it with “lower density residential.”

Per the Seattle Times report, Seattle’s single-family zoning is a “defining feature of Seattle’s strong neighborhood feel,” and has been for more than 100 years.

But the new proposal, that’s currently under consideration by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s advisory committee would change that.

From the Seattle Times:

We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.

The draft report notes that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.”

The committee voted 19-3 to recommend replacing single-family zoning with a “lower density residential zone” that would allow duplexes, triplexes, rooming houses and more backyard cottages and mother-in-law units in areas now dominated by single houses on lots with a yard.

The report notes that this is just a draft of a proposal, and would still need to work its way through the city council before ever being finalized.

If it’s approved, which is no given, the zoning change could still take 10 years to fully implement, but the fact that the city is at least discussing a shift of this magnitude suggests that changes to Seattle real estate are coming – sooner or later.

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