SDCI published a new Code Interpretation R302.2 Townhouse Unit Separation on March 15, 2021. The purpose of the Code Interpretation is to clarify methods to provide separation between townhouse units designed to the 2018 Seattle Residential Code. Typically, the code requires a fire-resistance-rated wall assembly to provide continuous separation between units from foundation to roof. There are several conditions where separation is required to extend beyond this enclosed floor area.
Draft legislation is available for review and comment until December 23, 2019. It would update width of access easements for townhouses to match the driveway width. This code amendment would apply to small-scale townhouse projects in Seattle and would help land be used efficiently for housing.
SDCI has a new policy calculating the number of stories for townhouses. A building’s “story count” is based on the calculated Grade Plane. Since adopting the first Seattle Residential Code (SRC) in 2004, SDCI’s policy has been that a series of attached townhouses can have only one grade plane. This has meant that when a series of townhouses steps up a hill it can become a four-story structure (in code terms), even though each individual unit only has three stories.
On December 14, 2010, the City Council adopted Ordinance 123495. This ordinance establishes new development standards for lowrise (LR) multifamily zones, a new administrative design review process for townhouses, and other standards that apply in various zoning designations. In preparing to administer this legislation, staff from DPD has discovered corrections and clarifications that would facilitate use of the new provisions, in keeping with Council’s intent. Most of the amendments are minor technical changes (e.g. correcting outdated formatting and subsection references). The proposed ordinance also contains amendments that are clarifications to provisions or corrections of errors or omissions.
In order to improve the design and variety of townhouses in Seattle, Mayor Nickels directed DPD to create an Administrative Design Review (ADR) process for townhouses in conjunction with adoption of a Multifamily Code Update. This project will extend Design Review to cover more townhouses in order to raise the overall quality of townhouse design, without adding significantly to project cost or affordability.