Saturday, October 31, 2009

ALERT - JUST SAY NO! DADU ("Backyard Cottage") vote Monday, November 2nd

Map showing how one DADU (Backyard Cottage") adversely affects five neighboring properties.

New DADU ("Backyard Cottage") at 1911 16th Ave South.

New DADU ("Backyard Cottage") at 7520 Military Road South.

New Dadu ("Backyard Cottage") in rear, 8630 Beacon Avenue S.

New DADU ("Backyard Cottage") at 6522 48th Avenue S.

New DADU ("Backyard Cottage) in rear at 3043 S Dawson Street.

By Marty Liebowitz []

Regarding- Upcoming Seattle City Council Vote on Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs)

Note: The City has recently decided to call these structures “Backyard Cottages”.

"DADUs" is a crazy sounding abbreviation for “Detached Attached Dwelling Units”. Spelled out in its entirety, the acronym is long, un-sexy, and not very catchy. But next week, on Monday, November 2nd, when the full City Council is slated to vote on whether to allow them throughout the city, you will find that their klunky name has been changed to the more friendly sounding “Backyard Cottages”, and this will be judgment day for the fate of each and every single-family neighborhood throughout the City of Seattle.

The ordinance they are voting on is flawed - maybe 30% flawed. In that amount of written legalese, much of what we all love about our City could be destroyed. The decision will be largely invisible since it presumably affects only rear yards, so the damage may not be visible from the sidewalk. However the damage will be done- primarily to the backyard privacy that we and our trees, and our backyard animals now all enjoy.

As currently proposed, a 2 story 800 square foot home will be allowed to be built in the rear yard of any property with an existing single family home - in all the single family neighborhoods in Seattle. The new home which can be built will be allowed within 5 feet from rear and side property lines. It can be 15’ high at its eave and 22’ high at the ridge of a peaked roof. It can tower over the abutting 5 neighboring lots when built mid block. What is gained by 1 property owner in building one new Accessory Dwelling Unit is lost by each of the five abutting neighbors. This ratio 5 1 to 1, winner to loser, should not be acceptable in the City of Seattle or anywhere else.

While hyped as being “sustainable”, this is really not since we already have an attached Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance which allows the same thing if it is attached to an existing building and maintains regular setback requirements in side and rear yards. Hence, there will be no more units created by this ordinance. Also, they do not provide “affordable” housing since this is in general new construction at new construction costs.

The City planners are telling us that this is no different than similar ordinances on places like Mercer Island. However, on Mercer Island, the minimal lot sizes are 1/3 acre, while in Seattle, the minimum lot size proposed is 1/10 acre - hardly comparable.

One glaring problem with the proposed ordinance relates to a similar one passed a few years ago for SE Seattle, which was to be a test of the DADU concept in Seattle. SE Seattle was chosen since politically the concept was a hot potato for neighborhoods in the rest of the city and SE Seattle was politically under-represented and an easy test case for the City Planners. Hence, under the cover of darkness (not unlike today) the Council benignly passed the experimental ordinance under the guidance of City Planners. In the last 2 years, about 17 of these new residences have been built - the majority of which are eyesores. However, as mentioned in the top of this posting, they usually cannot be seen from the street, and hence are only a burden on their immediate neighbors who see these things out of their kitchen, bathroom and bedroom windows every day. So, we could say “out of sight out of mind” and just walk away from this issue. But if passed on November 2nd, none of our rear yard sanctuaries is safe. Our backyard privacy is a thing of the past. No longer can we and our backyard critters enjoy a moment or careless, peaceful, private piece of mind.

So folks - that’s what’s really coming down next Monday. Not many citizens are aware of this. There’s been little public disclosure on something so far-reaching. But noblesse oblige, “the Council knows what’s good for us”. Tell your Seattle City Council that this is a half-baked ordinance. Tell them that you believe in sustainability but that this is not the way to achieve it. Turn on the fans to their smoke screen, clear the air, and just tell them to vote NO on November 2 on the DADU Ordinance.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Regular Meeting

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union

1801 Fairview Avenue East

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The Future of Seattle’s Libraries in Tough Economic Times –

A Dialogue with City Librarian Susan Hildreth

With a projected $72 million revenue shortfall in the city’s 2009-2010 budget, the Library was asked to identify approximately five percent in cuts—about $2.6 million. Proposed cuts include:

· Reduce branch operating hours (branch libraries closed on Fridays and Mondays): $1.2M

· Sustain 2009 management and administrative reductions: $562,000

· Close the Library system-wide for one week (unpaid furlough): $649,000

· Extend staff computer replacement cycle from 4 years to 5 years: $23,000

· Absorb citywide inflation, health care and rate adjustments that don't affect services or staff: $200,000 above the Library Board's proposed cut.

How will the Library continue to build on its history of excellence in serving citizens during these economic times? Get your questions answered from the City Librarian.

The Challenges of Running for Seattle City Council – David Miller’s Perspective

How does one raise the funds and support to run for City Council? In a field of six candidates, David Miller was rated “very good” by the Municipal League, a higher rating than three others vying for a spot on the November ballot, yet didn’t make it past the Primary. What are the pitfalls in running for city council? How does one deal with the media? Get your questions answered from community leader David Miller.

The October meeting will also include our monthly Round Robin of issues and projects in your neighborhood. It is your opportunity to brief our citywide membership about what you are working on and to share perceptions on what is going right and what isn’t with our city government. If you have informational materials you would like distributed at the meeting, please email electronic copies or links to Jeannie Hale at

7:00 Call to Order and Introductions


1. Changes to the agenda

2. Treasurer’s report

3. President’s report

7:15 A Dialogue with City Librarian Susan Hildreth

8:00 The Challenges of Running for Seattle City Council – David Miller’s Perspective

8:20 Round Robin

9:00 Adjourn

NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a recent Federation meeting, please send your name, contact information, and address to to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.

The effort to keep NOAA on Lake Union--and how to help

Can Seattle keep NOAA’s beautiful white ships and the many jobs they represent, or will they move to Oregon? Washington’s U.S. Senators and Representatives—and you--will make the difference.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is descended from the Coast and Geodetic Survey, which since the mid-1800s has made navigation possible on the Pacific Coast through its exploration and map-making. NOAA also has become central to prediction of weather patterns (including tsunamis) and in understanding global warming. NOAA’s ships have homeported on Lake Union since 1916, just a 5.6 mile drive from its scientific laboratories that were built in Sand Point in 1978. But under the Bush administration, NOAA began a process to consider other homeports, with the current privately owned and taxpaying Lake Union site facing tax-subsidized competition on (non-taxpaying) public land of the Ports of Bellingham, Port Angeles, and Newport.

NOAA is located in the Department of Commerce, whose Secretary is former Washington Governor Gary Locke. NOAA reports to a U.S. Senate Committee chaired by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell. Nevertheless, on August 8, NOAA signed a lease to move its home port to Newport, Oregon, turning down the lease renewal proposal for the Lake Union site. Newport has no guarantee of getting the state and federal permits needed to build new structures for NOAA in a sensitive natural area, estuary and salmon run of the Yaquina River. Relocation of the NOAA ships to Newport would cause millions of dollars a year in increased costs for fuel, personnel, and repair, undermining their safe and effective operation and the realization of their mission of science and national and global security.

The NOAA ships are an icon for Seattle. NOAA employees who sail on the ships make their homes in the Seattle area, as do many others in NOAA and the private sector who maintain and supply the ships. You can help keep the NOAA ships homeported in Seattle by urging action by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and our U.S. Representative Jim McDermott. To send e-mails or obtain their Washington, D.C. address or phone number, go to,, and You can also leave phone messages with their Seattle offices:

Cantwell: (206) 220-6400;

Murray: (206) 553-5545; and

McDermott: (206) 553-7170.