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A micro-housing building in Seattle.
Reviewing a new housing option.

What’s Happening Now?

On September 2 the City Council introduced new legislation (Council Bill 118201) to clarify permanent regulation of micro-housing, congregate residences, and similar forms of development. The City Council’s proposal reflects input from three stakeholder working group meetings held during the summer of 2014. Once Council has voted on the new regulations, all future developments will have to meet the new rules. We look forward to having new regulations in place to help clarify standards for developers and neighborhood groups. Key elements of the proposed new regulations include:

  • Micro-housing will be regulated as individual small efficiency dwelling units. A new code subsection will specify allowable configurations of interior spaces. Groupings of sleeping rooms with a shared kitchen within a single dwelling unit (a previous model for micro-housing) will no longer be allowed. Instead, developers may construct small efficiency dwelling units, which are complete dwelling units containing a full kitchen / kitchenette. Small efficiency dwelling units will be required to have an average size of 220 square feet among the dwelling units in a building.
  • Private, non-special needs congregate residences will only be allowed in some places. Congregate residences that are not owned by or directly affiliated with a non-profit housing provider, college, or university, or that are not licensed to provide support services, will only be allowed in urban villages and urban centers in these zones:
    • Neighborhood Commercial 3 (NC3)
    • Midrise multifamily (MR)
    • Highrise multifamily (HR)
    • Seattle Mixed (SM)
    • Downtown zones
  • Special needs congregate residences will continue to be allowed in all zones that allow multi-family development. Congregate residences that are owned by or directly affiliated with a non-profit housing provider, college, or university, or that are licensed to provide support services, will continue to be allowed in all zones that allow multi-family development including:
    • Lowrise zones (LR1, LR2, LR3)
    • Neighborhood Commercial 1 and 2 zones (NC1 and NC2)

Next Steps
The City Council Planning Land Use and Sustainability Committee (PLUS) will discuss the new regulations on September 5, 2014, with a possible PLUS Committee vote on September 16. The full City Council will then vote on the PLUS Committee’s recommendation, possibly on September 22 or 29. There is typically a 30-day period between when City Council votes on legislation and when new regulations become effective.

Project Benefits

Based on our evaluation so far, we recognize micro-housing and congregate residences as an emerging and viable type of housing. This housing can help achieve Seattle's Comprehensive Plan goals and policies by:

  • Reducing the cost of developing new housing
  • Fostering an adequate and diverse supply of housing

The End Result

We will deliver our recommendations on the permitting and design of micro-housing and congregate residences to City Council. After deliberating and holding a public hearing, the City Council will adopt legislation.

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