Queen Anne Community Council member Marty Kaplan made an appearance at the most recent Magnolia Community Council meeting in hopes of generating support for the appeal opposing plans to incentivize building more accessory dwelling units in Seattle.

"This is not just a Queen Anne issue, this is a whole-city issue," Kaplan said at the meeting last Tuesday. "In May of 2015, Mike O'Brien and Mayor Murray were pushing through legislation to essentially eliminate single-family zoning throughout the city. They kept it relatively secret, and they did not do any environmental studies or community meetings. We appealed it to the city ... and we prevailed and forced them to do an environmental impact statement. In October of 2017, they started the EIS process."

Kaplan was citing a move by Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien to loosen rules around developing attached and detached accessory dwelling units in single-family housing zones.

After QACC successfully appealed the proposal, the city published an final environmental impact statement on Oct. 4 that included a preferred alternative, which would allow one attached accessory dwelling unite (AADU) and one detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU) on a minimum lot of 3,200 square feet in single-family zones or two AADUs. It would not require anyone to do so, and the property owner would have to own the site for a year before they could develop a second accessory dwelling unit.

QACC chose to appeal the FEIS on the grounds that its members believe it didn't do enough studies in the city's "core neighborhoods." The case will go before the city's Hearing Examiner at the end of March.

The city council filed a motion to partially dismiss the appeal in November, and QACC responded in December.

"Many of us had significant issues with the context of that study," Kaplan told Magnolia Community Council members.

Kaplan made a lot of claims against O'Brien's proposal.

"They want to eliminate single-family zoning everywhere," Kaplan said. "You'll be able to have three residences, no parking requirements, no ownership requirement and to increase the number of people who can live on one piece of property to 12. Let's say you own a home and your neighbor sells their property to a developer. The way the city wants it to work is the developer can buy the property on your left side and right side, tear those houses down, build three houses, let 12 people live on each property with no parking."

Under the proposal 12 unrelated people could live on a single lot that included a primary home and two ADUs.

He claimed that 50 percent of the AADUs and DADUs that are in the city now are used for short-term rents such as Airbnbs.

Seattle City Council candidate Andrew Lewis attended the meeting and asked Kaplan where the 50 percent figure came from. Kaplan said the number was discovered through his and QACC's studies of city documents and the stat was also presented in a report that was given to QACC by the city during the council's first appeal.

Kaplan seemed to get some approval from the MCC members, but not others.

"When you talk about community requirements, education is obviously one of those," said Valerie Cooper, one of the newest trustees of the MCC. "If they triple the density with families in the area, we don't have enough school infrastructure for that. From the schools' perspective, they should be a part of the conversation. We have to include education in this."

While the preferred alternative could result in 3,690 new ADU residents, the FEIS states, the city does not anticipate service impacts for its various departments, such as police, fire and utilities.

A few members asked Kaplan if the city believes the AADUs and DADUs will help fix the affordable housing problem and how that would affect other neighborhoods in the city.

Kaplan said the original intent was to help fix the affordable housing crisis, but he doesn't believe it will help lower-income families find housing or that it should be the responsibility of current homeowners.

"This is all very puzzling," former MCC chair Bruce Carter said. "Because they say this is for low-income, but there's no way those people can afford to move into new housing like this. And we have an excess of apartments available ... Are these things coming together at all?"

"There's a movement that looks at single-family homing as racist," Kaplan said. "And is preventing people from living in single-family neighborhoods. The city has written about this, it's in their documentation on the HALA agenda. This is an effort, I'm convinced, to get rid of single-family zoning and all the things that many people associate with single-family zoning, like redlining, and open up neighborhoods to allow more people. It's often talked about as those of us who've worked all our lives and own a home owe other people the right to live near us or on our property in an affordable house."

Kaplan said the DADUs and AADUS will not be affordable and will displace lower-income families. The preferred alternative does not include affordable housing incentives, according to the FEIS, but the city is considering other programmatic controls to make ADUs accessible for lower-income households.

MCC trustee Cindy Pierce echoed Kaplan's concerns and urged the other trustees to reach out to the council and others to help QACC appeal the proposal. She also said she was concerned about the reasoning behind this proposal and cited a comment made at a recent QACC public meeting.

"I was at a meeting, and I cannot get it out of my head what someone said," Pierce said. "To those of us who are a little older, who worked our assess off to be what we are today and to have a home, his words were, 'You've had your time and it's time to give it to us.' That's the mentality out there."

No official action was taken regarding QACC's appeal at the meeting.

Seattle ADU FEIS by on Scribd