I live in Wallingford in with a view of Mount Rainer on a clear day from my backyard. From my street, I am greeted to the south by a view of downtown leaning over Lake Union; to the west, the Olympic Mountains. My house is huge and the yard has space to keep a flock of 7 chickens and several garden plots. Best? I only pay $425/month to live so close to the city center and its resources.
Arriving in Seattle 6 months ago, the prospect of living in such a place seemed impossible. Fortunately enough my boyfriend and I discovered a co-operative style house in this neighborhood with a garden-level space available. Simply put, I can now enjoy the home life I have because we decided to share it.
I live in a household of 7, but most my neighbors do not—they enjoy the quality of living our neighborhood affords while consuming a larger “piece of the pie.” I wonder how access to housing would increase in my own neighborhood if there were more incentives to share these special urban spaces? I’ve included a link at the bottom of this post exploring some approaches developers in Portland have taken in “densifying” existing neighborhoods. Incentives could include tax deductions for renting out a portion of your home. Tax incentives could also support the decision to build additions and ensure that houses not worth investment are replaced by attractive multifamily units. Going further, I think you could reward people who “rent” out green space on their property to urban agricultural groups like City Grown or Pea Patch.
There are also spaces outside of private property that could support infill. A person willing to pay market rate for an apartment would struggle to find a place in my neighborhood, but my vehicle can live on the street in front of my doorstep entirely free of cost. There is easily 40-feet-plus of buildable space sidewalk to sidewalk on many residential streets. Could even go as far as to close selective streets and build in middle of them to create larger blocks with common green space, such as in the “superilles” of Barcelona (see link below)? Adaptive reuse strategies can target entire neighborhoods and zoning codes could support such creative development.