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Microhousing debate comes to Eastlake neighborhood

The micro-housing debate in Seattle is growing, with a new focus in the Eastlake neighborhood.
/ Source: KING5

SEATTLE — The micro-housing debate in Seattle is growing, with a new focus in the Eastlake neighborhood.

At Lake Union Mail, manager Jules James, condemns the tiny units.

“It’s not housing, it’s shelter. It’s a hotel, not housing,” said James.

James is talking about Eastlake’s new micro-housing complex, The Footprint, at Louisa and Franklin. It has 39 units, between 120 and 200 square feet.

Each unit has a sink, microwave, bathroom, shared kitchen and shared living room.

James says he speaks for many Eastlake residents.

“We’re going back to the 19th century tenements, where it’s overcrowded, substandard housing,” he said.

“It’s the difference between an Escalade and a Smart Car,” said Roger Valdez with Smart Growth Seattle, a group of developers.

Valdez says the tiny units provide affordable housing in great neighborhoods, like Eastlake, for a lot of people.

Seattle City Council Member Mike O’Brien has a proposal for micro-units. It calls for an average size unit of 220 square feet, and shared kitchens only in high density zones.

A few blocks away from The Footprint, another micro-housing complex with 52 units is being planned.

James warns, “It’s a payday loan of housing. Its looks good, but it’s going to screw you over in a few years.”

The Seattle City Council will discuss O’Brien’s plan next month.