Seattle backyard cottageThis is cool—the city of Seattle is expanding the option for homeowners to build “backyard cottages.”

It’s a nifty idea, for lots of reasons.  For some homeowners, the little homes provide a source of rental income.  For others, they offer an opportunity to have family live nearby, but with a bit of independence.  For renters, they provide some sorely needed options for affordable housing.  They’re unobtrusive—which means that they don’t disturb the character of a neighborhood.  They don’t require much in the way of new infrastructure; residents use existing roads and sewers, and even police and fire services, which means that their marginal tax burden is low.  And, of course, adding people to a neighborhood is a good way to boost local businesses, and increase the cost-effectiveness of existing transit services.

Of course, Seattle’s taking the program slowly, with a limit of 50 new cottage homes per year.  But in my mind, this is a nice (if modest) little success story.

Update:  a few more dollhouse pics after the jump…

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  • Backyard cottage

    Backyard cottage - photo credit Robert Drucker architect
     Credit for this latter photo goes to Robert Drucker, architect.