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New rules proposed for B&Bs in homes
Seattle Times staff reporter
Bed-and-breakfasts would have greater freedom to operate within Seattle's residential neighborhoods but their owners would have to apply for a special permit to open, under a proposal by City Councilman Richard Conlin.
Conlin said he is trying to encourage more B&Bs to open within single-family zones while giving neighbors a formal process to air any concerns — a delicate balance to strike.
Conlin's proposal, which would amend existing law governing B&Bs in single-family zones, grew out of a conflict over the Greenlake Guest House, a B&B that opened at 7630 East Green Lake Drive N. in August 2004.
Owners Blayne and Julie McAferty sued the city after the Department of Planning and Development threatened to shut down their business because they built dormers to expand two upstairs bedrooms. Existing law prohibits exterior structural changes done for the purpose of accommodating a B&B.
Under Conlin's proposal, however, B&B owners would be able to make the same exterior remodels allowed for neighboring single-family homeowners.
A change in the law would put the McAfertys in the clear for continuing to run their B&B — and would lead them to drop their lawsuit, Blayne McAferty said. But Conlin also wants B&B owners in single-family neighborhoods to apply for a conditional-use permit — on top of the business license they already must possess.
The additional permitting would allow neighbors to challenge a B&B before it opens.
"My general feeling is that most neighborhoods are going to have no problem with a B&B, and therefore I expect this will be a fairly routine procedure for people who would like to establish one," Conlin said.
Blayne McAferty is not as certain. He said the permit would allow a neighborhood to oppose a B&B based only on unfounded fears over its impact.
"If the city wants to be true to its philosophy that B&Bs are good things for single-family zones, then why allow a neighborhood to chime in with angst?" he said.
Conlin's proposals also would expand the maximum number of rooms in a B&B from three to five and would require either the B&B owner or manager to live on site.
McAferty said he would like to post a bigger sign outside his B&B than is currently allowed — 64 square inches, or smaller than a standard-size sheet of paper. The current law also allows only the name of the owners on a sign — not the name of the B&B. But Conlin is proposing no such change to the law.
His proposals go before a council committee Wednesday.
Stuart Eskenazi: 206-464-2293 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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