Editorial: Density Not as Dismal as You Think

People want to live on Capitol Hill. A lot of people.

Condos are growing on top of condos, and Broadway seems more populated by construction cranes than coffee shops. The neighborhood is growing and developing, and that means there’s less space. Thus far, the solution seems to be high density micro-housing—dorm style “aPodments” sized slightly larger than a standard parking space. The aPodments are roughly the size of your average Bellarmine or Campion room—and an affordable alternative to high priced rent in the neighborhood. Neighborhood groups are rallying to shut down the spread of mirco-apartments, citing crowding as an issue and criticizing the tiny living quarters as “unlivable.”

Here’s the deal—density is a good thing. If a bunch of people want to move to the city, it’s more sustainable and more common sense to pack them into smaller spaces. The reality of city life is that most people don’t spend that much time in their homes—often times they simply need a place to sleep at night. You work elsewhere, eat elsewhere and socialize elsewhere—not everyone needs a whole house to suit their needs. This kind of lifestyle is common in China where 40-story high rises packed to the brim with micro-housing units is the norm.

Much of the ballyhoo surrounding the micro-housing debate smacks of NIMBY-ism—before we get to worked up, let’s examine the situation from a step back. aPodments make financial sense, and they make sense spatially. They may not be the most ideal places to live for folks used to a backyard and a picket fence, but if newcomers to the neighborhood are game, why not pack them in?