During last week’s discussion of subdivisions and the problem of slicing the city into tiny parcels, we asked for your help to find the strangest lot lines and parcels in Seattle and around Puget Sound.
Some of you have a deep affinity for the non-linear parcel. Goodness, you found some weird ones. Excellent work.
We’ll start with the purely strange lot lines as we work our way toward our grand champion. Probably a way to squeeze a few extra feet of buildable lot out of a larger lot or dividing one property for uniquely shaped buildings, these are lots that are bizarre without any help from outside forces.
Special mention has to go out to Crop Circles. These are enclaves in formerly rural areas where houses are in the circles and the rest of the property is shared. Usually by horses.
There are a number of strange lots and parcels created by the hills and roads of the region. In some places, limited access to a highway like I-5 or the wide swath of overhead power lines force lots to put driveways onto other sides of the block.
Of course, when we look at the property ownership under a highway intersection, the lot divisions are just as strange as the lots around them.
And then there are the waterways. Lakes get long lots around their edges so folks don’t fight over which way their piers go. Streams get split across lots, and the protected trees around them get handed to private properties for maintenance and preservation.
We have also platted out expansion of the city into the water, should we ever decide to wash away more hills.
And in that vein, the lots that are “left behind” tend to be good and weird. The flip side of those long lots with streams running along the back, these lots are created where a development squeezes the undevelopable parts into a couple of chunks that can be held by a homeowners association (HOA) or golf club.
But for this competition, we have a clear winner. Looking like an election population map, this property was set aside to hold all of the steep slopes and stream bed for a feeder to Issaquah Creek while the properties around it were developed. Now owned by the City of Issaquah as a private open space tract, it is a uniquely bizarre parcel.
Bonus, according to the recorded plat, the sensitive area designation is imposed on all future owners “on behalf of the pubic by King County.” Sensitive area indeed, and a good illustration of why the first comment you always give when reviewing a plat is “Carefully spell check plat notes.”
Thank you to everyone who sent along your bizarre parcels, we appreciate your attention to detail and strange property lines. Congratulations Marissa. Your gift card is in the mail.
Ray Dubicki is a stay-at-home dad and parent-on-call for taking care of general school and neighborhood tasks around Ballard. This lets him see how urbanism works (or doesn’t) during the hours most people are locked in their office. He is an attorney and urbanist by training, with soup-to-nuts planning experience from code enforcement to university development to writing zoning ordinances. He enjoys using PowerPoint, but only because it’s no longer a weekly obligation.