Advocacy Update – April 2021
This month in advocacy: a federal push for greater housing supply; the State Legislature adjourns on April 25; King County's new energy code update; housing development around Sound Transit's new light rail stations; opportunities to participate in AIA Seattle's policy programming; and more!
Housing Supply & Affordability Act
In Congress, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota introduced the Housing Supply and Affordability Act to encourage cities and rural communities to lift barriers to new housing construction. The bipartisan bill would authorize $1.5 billion for federal grants to local governments that commit to increasing their supply of local housing. Eligible local governments will be able to apply for grants to build out housing policy plans, or local roadmaps, that will identify a pathway to creating greater housing affordability and availability. AIA National has endorsed the legislation. Legislation enacted in Washington in 2019 (by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-West Seattle) has been successful in providing similar local government funding to boost planning around increased housing capacity.
State Legislative Session Nears April 25 Adjournment
With a week and a half to go in the legislative session, bills that have not passed both the House and the Senate are dead for the year (all dead bills will return in 2022). There is an exception for any bill necessary to implement the budget, and the remaining days will be spent by legislators out of public view, negotiating the final Operating, Capital, and Transportation budgets. Although not finalized, the Capital Budget will be the largest ever produced by the state.
Climate: HB 1050 to further reduce emissions from HFCs passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting signature by Governor Inslee; HB 1280 to require large public buildings to undergo all-electric analysis in the planning phase passed the House but did not make it to consideration on the Senate floor and is dead until next year; SB 5141, to add environmental justice requirements to state agency decision making processes, passed both houses and is headed to the governor.
Tax: legislation to implement a capital gains tax passed the Senate and is currently in the House Finance Committee (this bill is budget-related and the normal deadlines do not apply). This remains the only major tax bill that is likely to advance this year, as both the House and Senate Operating budgets (controlled by the Democrats) are tied to a capital gains bill passing.
Growth Management: legislation (HB 1220) to add more robust housing elements to the Growth Management Act, requiring planning for a wide range of housing needs, including homeless housing, passed both houses and will go to the governor. HB 1099, to add a new climate element to the GMA, including a focus on reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips, died twice after a last-ditch effort to add it to a separate bill that was moving. AIA|WA supported both bills, and we will work with stakeholders to get HB 1099 passed next year.
Housing: unlike last year, most bills related to encouraging greater housing availability did not survive this year. One that did, SB 5235, would prohibit owner-occupancy requirements for lots with an ADU and ban local limits on the number of persons who can reside in a home beyond state law. That bill has been sent to the governor. Two housing financing bills, HB 1070 to allow the use of local tax revenue for affordable housing and related services to include the acquisition and construction of affordable housing and facilities; and HB 1189, to authorize tax increment financing for local governments, are on their way to the governor. HB 1277 would create a permanent state-funded rental assistance and housing stability program with a new $100 document recording fee on real estate-related transactions; it passed the House but, because it is budget-related, it has more time to pass the Senate.
Race & Social Justice: a key priority of Democratic leadership, a significant number of criminal justice and police reform bills passed the legislature this year. These include legislation to prohibit private detention facilities; restore voting rights to individuals with felony convictions who have completed their post-sentence requirements; provide greater state oversight over use-of-force incidents; require police officers to intervene when a colleague uses excessive force; and more. You can see the full list on AIA’s bill tracking matrix.
King County Commercial Energy Code Update
Following the successful adoption of Seattle’s commercial energy code update, King County is proposing similar improvements to its commercial energy code, which covers unincorporated parts of the county. Draft codes, including a plain-language summary of the proposed updates, can be found on the King County website. If you would like to comment on any part of the proposed code, send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30.
Light Rail Station Neighborhood Designs Released
Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development released a draft plan for the neighborhoods surrounding the future light rail station areas at 130th and 145th streets in north Seattle. They are seeking public feedback via an online open house and survey – responses must be filed by April 16. AIA has worked to support policies that encourage denser housing opportunities around transit stations – the city’s draft plan has been criticized for providing lackluster housing density in station neighborhoods. We will be monitoring the progress of these plans as they develop and provide comments where appropriate.
Charter Amendment on Homelessness Filed
Compassion Seattle, a group of non-profits, business organizations, and community organizations ranging from the Downtown Seattle Association to the Downtown Emergency Services Center and the Housing Development Consortium, filed a city of Seattle charter amendment that would mandate a comprehensive strategy of housing, services, and clearance resources to address Seattle’s homelessness crisis. It would also mandate sweeps of homeless encampments on public property. Critically, the amendment fails to identify sources of funding for the services and housing it would offer. The measure will require 33,000 signatures from Seattle voters to qualify for inclusion on the November ballot. AIA Seattle would likely not take a position on the initiative prior to it reaching the ballot, but AIA’s Committee on Homelessness will be leading that discussion. Everyone is welcome to attend COHO meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at noon. More info here.
Built Environment Candidate Forums
Along with ULI, ASLA, and others, AIA Seattle will be hosting two city of Seattle candidate forums on built environment issues in June/July. One forum each will be dedicated to the mayoral race and the council races for positions 8 and 9. If you are interested in helping design the forums, please contact Kirsten.
15-Minute Seattle Series
AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force is developing 15-Minute Seattle: Creating Livable Places for All, a series of programs that will kick off in June. The series will present a comprehensive look at how Seattle can become a city of complete neighborhoods where residents can work, shop, access services, and socialize – all within a short walk from their homes. The Housing Task Force will present the featured event, Housing Innovation in the 15-Minute City, with a keynote by Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen of Gehl in Copenhagen and a separate panel discussion on housing policy that supports the population needed for 15-minute city neighborhoods. We are looking for AIA committees and partner organizations that are interested in providing complementary programming under the 15-Minute Seattle banner (think: other amenities and characteristics of the 15-minute city, like walkability, child care, access to food options, etc.). For more information, please contact Kirsten.
Next to Lead Leadership Training
Next to Lead, a new AIA National leadership training program for ethnically diverse women in architecture, is looking for candidates who are AIA members with at least 5 years of experience in architecture (you do not have to be licensed) for its pilot cohort. This 2-year program is designed to teach essential leadership skills alongside successful, diverse women leaders with decades of experience. It includes a one-year leadership impact residency – a volunteer leadership opportunity within AIA where participants will serve on a collaborative project developed with a local or state component or with the AIA. Applications are due April 30. AIA Washington Council will pay the participant cost for any AIA member from Washington selected for the program.
Seattle Comprehensive Plan 2024
This fall, Seattle will begin its process of developing the city’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan under the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA), which requires most counties and cities in the state to prepare comprehensive plans that show how they will manage population growth over the following two decades. The GMA defines a set of goals for managing growth and lays out the basic contents of comprehensive plans. But Seattle will have a significant opportunity to craft the scope and content of its plan, and that process will be open to public input throughout the plan’s development cycle. Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development will begin the scoping process, and AIA Seattle will be offering programming to get architects and members of the public prepared to participate. If you are interested in helping with this effort, please let Kirsten know.
New WA Energy Code Trainings
The 2018 Washington State Energy Code went into effect February 1, 2021. BetterBuiltNW has produced a series of on-demand training videos, Chasing Opportunities in the Washington Energy Code. The videos take a deep dive into the new requirements, focusing on the following:
- Efficient Building Envelope Options
- Build Tight & Ventilate Right
- H/AC System Inside Options
The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is accepting applications for volunteers to serve on committees from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. More information about NCARB committees can be found here. Applications are available here.
AIA Seattle Committee Meetings
- AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force continues to meet monthly on the second Thursday of each month at noon via Zoom.
- AIA Seattle’s Transportation Task Force meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 5:30-6:30 pm via Zoom.
For info on how to access either meeting, contact Kirsten.
Carbon Leadership Forum Building Reuse Webinar – April 16, 9-10 am
Join the CLF with guest speakers Larry Strain, Donald King FAIA, and Kristian Kicinski to discuss building reuse. The group will address embodied vs. operational carbon for new and renovated buildings, as well as the community considerations related to these development decisions. Register
Northwest Green Home Virtual Tour – May 1, 8, 15
The Northwest Green Home Tour is the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild’s annual educational event that showcases local, sustainable, and green new homes, remodels, and energy retrofits in the Puget Sound area. Sites are still being accepted for the virtual tour.
We’d love to hear from you! To comment or for more information on these or any other topics, please contact: