Where does micro-housing go?

Before I came to Seattle, looking for affordable housing is the most prioritized agenda at that moment. It is hardly to imagine that the rent in Seattle goes high that swiftly and effectively with the tech boost. When my classmate who was enrolled in a University in Philadelphia told me he paid one third less and have double room of my apartment I realized the economic pressure I am under in Seattle.

The article  Are Apodments Ruining Seattle Neighborhoods? published on Seattle Magazine explains the idea of Micro-unit housing and its surge during the tech boost, meanwhile quite a lot of neighborhood activists strongly opposed against micro-apartments since it adds more density and instability to their neighborhoods.

In fact, I am a current Apodment resident and I am quite satisfied with it since I moved in in January. I chose Apodment because the following merits it offers.

  1. Walkable distance to work/study place.
  2. Acceptable rent range compared to other SEDU or share houses
  3. Enough Privacy offered
  4. Social pressure is minimized

It is notable that I am a landscape architecture student and I spend most of time in my studio in the entire week, so why bother pay extra money for unnecessary room? Quite a few of my classmates from American choose to share a house with others and commute by bus/bikes. However, there should be an option for the single-livings which offers more privacy and minimizes social pressure. With the tech boost and the general more prosperous job market since the end of recession, the increase of density in the city seems inevitable. Clearly, the city is not dealing with it very well.

The public transportation system, although stays in an above average level compared to other cities in United States, is totally unprepared. It takes 15-20 minutes waiting between each shift of the buses which demands extra pre-action and planning to take one. The metro system, Link, is prominently efficient however, immature, the station at the UW campus was just opened last year and there are still quite a few neighborhoods get no access to it. If we put our perspective on much denser city in East Asia like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, rail transit takes the majority of transportation there. Rail transit is fast, reliable, efficient and eco-friendly, it is impossible to deal with the problem of increasing density without a better planning on it.

Unfortunately, the Seattle City Government is regulating away micro-housing. The regulations has been revised  that the micro-housing should go over very long-term design review process with community members and citizen panel. And the city government has been increasing the minimum construction space in regulations since 2013 forcing these properties being constructed in a larger size, and with no question the rent has been increasing accordingly. “Micros are dead.” quoted from the article “How Seattle killed micro-housing” which has thoroughly recorded the changes on micro-housing regulations.


Credit: Sightline Institute

In traditional American culture it is most common that single family own their own house even with a backyard in suburban area and commute with their cars every day. Seattle has become a more and more popular city attracting the talents from all over the world, however, how can these college students, young professionals and beginning families pay that much on housing? Is the only solution for them to live much farther and bare an immature public transportation system or buy a car they might not need in the first place? The neighborhood should realize the population increase is inevitable and marginalize affordable single living spaces is not a feasible and wise solution to it.


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