McMansions Get Minimized by Seattle City Council

McMansionLooks like July’s proposals to place restrictions on McMansions — a housetype cropping up all over the city, in case you haven’t noticed — have gone through, according to the Central District News. While the mandates will only apply to new construction on single-family lots less than 3,000 square feet, they will nonetheless help keep builders in line and neighborhoods (somewhat) intact. The legislation sets forth a few guidelines for those who’ve been razing old buildings and erecting behemoths in their spots:

  • New construction forumlae to limit the amount of space a new building can cover
  • Removal of the provision that allows house height to be based on the structure next door, so long as said structure tops 30 feet, as well as a reevaluation of house height for homes located on sloped sites (of which Seattle’s certainly got the lion’s share)
  • Parking requirement waivers, plus limits on the location and visibility of street-facing garages

That’s the gist. Over at the CD News, commenters are both sated and skeptical. Take a look:

It’s about expletive deleted time. Smart developers will use that square footage for better things, and we can have a lot better design at the street level than what we’re getting with all that garagieness.


So if you live next to a couple of houses that are 30 plus feet, and you want to tear down your 1960′s duplex or bungalow, when you rebuild, you still have to live in the shadow of the taller houses? They have views and you don’t? That kind of sucks….Have to see the details on this one, but “limiting the location and visibility of garage doors that face the street?!” A garage door that faces somewhere other than “out?” C’mon — won’t a curved drive or the jockying that you’ll have to do for a garage that doesn’t face out mean you’re going to burn more lot square footage on driveway space thereby increasing runoff?

What’s your take? To invoke the language of the current presidential race: Too much regulation? Not enough?

  • Julie Anne

    The location of garage doors primarily applies to lots with alley access – of which the majority of Seattle lots do have. On lots with no alley, the footage allocated to garage doors is simply limited to 1/2 of the total lot width. Which is perfectly reasonable. Both requirements are.

    Too bad this ordinance is too late to save my street:

    I live on a street with an alley, everyone’s garages, whether attached or detached, face tha alley, and there is no earthly reason that a garage should face the street. Nevertheless, a builder bought a gorgeous 4 bedroom 1920′s Tudor up the street in need of a tiny bit of cosmetic TLC, scraped it and it’s alley garage, and is proceeding to put up a monstrosity with a massive street facing garage door.

    Why not point the garage at the darn alley?!?!?!

    The thing looks like cars, a lot of cars, will live there instead of people, and completely ruins the unbroken line of 1920′s porches and front gardens which made our street so attractive for walkers, especially with little kids.

    I am 100% in favor of this ordinance.

  • Allison Arth

    I must admit that I am, as well. Too many out-of-proportion, garage-heavy homes in the older, historic neighborhoods of Seattle. Thanks for sharing your story, Julie Anne.