Re: 3608 NE 44th St

       Project number 2403029


Dear Ms Hale:

Alan Justad and Dawn Bern have shared your concerns with me about the project located at 3608 NE 44th St.  A construction permit has been issued for a single family structure with an accessory dwelling unit.  There are specific notations on the issued permit plans that this structure is not to be occupied as a congregate residence.  The Seattle Land Use Code defines congregate residence as:

“a dwelling unit in which rooms or lodging, with or without meals, are provided for nine (9) or more nontransient persons not constituting a single household, excluding single-family residences for which special or reasonable accommodation has been granted”

and defines household as:

“a housekeeping unit consisting of any number of related persons; eight (8) or fewer non-related, nontransient persons; or eight (8) or fewer related and non-related nontransient persons, unless a grant of special or reasonable accommodation allows an additional number of persons”

In addition, in single family zones, accessory dwelling units are permitted in single family structures.  If any of the residents in the household are not related to any of the other residents in the household in the principal dwelling unit or in the accessory dwelling unit, the maximum number of residents that are allowed to reside in the entire structure is limited to eight residents.  Although many of the rooms on the approved plans are similar in design, the plans clearly designate only four bedrooms in the principal dwelling unit and only one bedroom in the accessory dwelling unit.  Assuming a single occupant per bedroom, there would be fewer than eight residents in this structure.  Any investigation of the total number of residents occupying this structure and their relationship would have to be based on a complaint that is filed with our Department after the structure is occupied.

Regarding your concern about the bulk of the structure, the reason this structure appears to be a four story structure in a 30’ height limit zone is that structure height is measured from existing or finish grade whichever is lower.  According to the survey document in the approved plans, the existing grade of the lot is higher than the street level and the site was excavated to put in an underground garage and laundry room and the plans show that the finish grade is intended to be restored back to the approximate original grade.  Therefore, the structure is only a three story building when measured from existing and finish grade.  Also, please note that driveways and pedestrian access are not considered finish grade for height measurement purposes per section 23.86.006.A.3 of the Seattle Land Use Code.

Regarding your setback question; again, based on the survey document submitted with the application, the existing structure on the lot was set back from the front lot line 9.88’ and from the east side lot line 2.57 to 2.94’.  The nonconforming section of the Seattle Land Use Code, section 23.42.112.B, reads as follows:

“A structure nonconforming to development standards and occupied by or accessory to a residential use may be rebuilt or replaced but may not be expanded or extended in any manner that increases the extent of nonconformity unless specifically permitted by this code.

 1. A survey by a licensed Washington surveyor, or other documentation acceptable to the Director, documenting the extent of nonconformity and confirming that the plans to rebuild or replace a residential structure create no unpermitted increase in nonconformity shall be required prior to approval of any permit to rebuild or replace a nonconforming residential structure.

 2. Additions to a rebuilt nonconforming residential structure that meet current development standards are allowed.”

In addition, nonconforming single family structures may be expanded per section 23.44.014.D.3 which reads as follows:

“3. Certain Additions. Certain additions may extend into a required yard when the existing single-family structure is already nonconforming with respect to that yard. The presently nonconforming portion must be at least sixty (60) percent of the total width of the respective facade of the structure prior to the addition. The line formed by the nonconforming wall of the structure shall be the limit to which any additions may be built, except as described below. They may extend up to the height limit and may include basement additions. New additions to the nonconforming wall or walls shall comply with the following requirements (Exhibit 23.44.014 A):

 a. Side Yard. When the addition is a side wall, the existing wall line may be continued by the addition except that in no case shall the addition be closer than three (3) feet to the side lot line;

 b. Rear Yard. When the addition is a rear wall, the existing wall line may be continued by the addition except that in no case shall the addition be closer than twenty (20) feet to the rear lot line or centerline of an alley abutting the rear lot line;

 c. Front Yard. When the addition is a front wall, the existing wall line may be continued by the addition except that in no case shall the addition be closer than fifteen (15) feet to the front lot line;

 d. When the nonconforming wall of the single-family structure is not parallel or is otherwise irregular, relative to the lot line, then the Director shall determine the limit of the wall extension, except that the wall extension shall not be located closer than specified in subsections D3a -- c above.”

The approved plans show that the previously nonconforming portions of the structure are to be rebuilt with a 9.9’ front yard and 3.0’ east side yard.  And because the previously existing structure is proposed to be expanded to the west and two additional floors and an underground basement are proposed as an expansion of the existing structure, the expanded portions are providing a fifteen foot front yard and a three foot side yard on the east side as allowed in the code.  The project provides a five foot west side yard and a 16’ rear yard which is the standard code requirement.

Regarding your lot coverage question: the standard code requirement is 35% of the lot area or 1,750 sq. ft. whichever is greater per section 23.44.010.C of the Seattle Land Use Code which reads as follows:

“C. Maximum Lot Coverage. The maximum lot coverage permitted for principal and accessory structures shall not exceed thirty-five (35) percent of the lot area or one thousand seven hundred fifty (1,750) square feet, whichever is greater.”

The lot size of this project is 49.97’ x 80.00’ = 3,997.6 sq. ft. in area and 35% of this is 1,399.16 sq. ft.; therefore, they are allowed the 1,750 sq. ft. of lot coverage and based on the approved plans, their designed lot coverage is 1,733.95 sq. ft.

If you have not done so already, you may want to obtain a copy of the approved set of plans from our Microfilm Library to review what we have approved for this site.  For the location and business hours of our Microfilm Library, please visit our online webpage at:

I hope the foregoing explanation of how the code was applied to this project adequately addresses your questions.  If not, please feel free to contact me at my email address or phone number listed below.  Thank you.



Alan Oiye, Supervisor, Land Use Planner


Phone: 206 233 3822