On Backyard Cottages in Ballard

In Ballard, backyard cottages and in-law apartments (“granny flats”) are on people’s minds. This is no doubt because earlier this week the City Council passed an ordinance intended to make it easier to build these. The Mayor has yet to sign it or not.

While doorbelling the other night, I met two households that already have these extra units on their lots...

One household uses their backyard cottage as an art studio and sometimes rents it out on Airbnb. The other household has a step-daughter, son-in-law, and teen-age grand-daughter living in an in-law apartment because they cannot afford separate housing in Seattle. I also spoke with a woman who has two grown boys. One has had to move to Kent to afford a place to live. The other lives in another part of Ballard in what she described as small and pricey. She said she thought backyard cottages were a good idea, and could be a way to help grown children like hers afford to live in Seattle.

I believe that the Mayor should sign the Council legislation. Some people are worried that backyard cottages will destroy the character of single-family neighborhoods. The ones that I have seen seem quite tasteful. They seem preferable to the enormous McMansions that have been popping up around the city in recent years. The new ordinance would also severely limit the construction of big box houses that take up most of a single-family lot.

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