Advocacy Update – August 2019

This month in state and local advocacy: Seattle makes bold moves on climate; Mayor Durkan announces Housing Seattle Now; and the Central City Connector Streetcar project moves forward.


Residential Energy Code Update
Washington’s State Building Code Council (SBCC) is in the process of reviewing proposed amendments to the 2018 residential energy codes as approved by the SBCC’s Energy Code Technical Advisory Group. The proposed residential energy code amendments are open for public comment through Sept. 27. The SBCC will take public comments in person at hearings in Spokane (Sept. 13) and Olympia (Sept. 27). More info, including information about each proposal, is available here.

Residential Architect Sought for State Building Code Council’s Building Code TAG
AIA Washington Council is seeking an architect willing to serve on the SBCC’s Building Code Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which makes recommendations to the Council on the International Building Code and the International Existing Building Code. The TAG has an open seat in the category of Home Designer, so we are looking for someone who primarily does residential work. The TAG reviews new model codes against the previous version, assesses statewide amendment proposals and makes recommendations for the SBCC’s consideration. Members of a TAG are generally asked to serve for a full code cycle, but they may serve longer if desired. Please contact Kirsten if you are interested.


Seattle Passes Local Green New Deal
Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien introduced a resolution laying out the agenda for a Green New Deal for Seattle and an ordinance creating a Green New Deal Oversight Board. The resolution endorses the Federal Green New Deal and identifies five goals for a Seattle Green New Deal:

  • Make Seattle free of pollutants that have climate impacts by 2030;
  • Prioritize investments most harmed by economic, racial and environmental injustices;
  • Advance an equitable transition from an extraction-based economy to one based on “regeneration and cooperation;”
  • Ensure that those with the least amount of power and wealth are positioned to lead during the transition; and
  • Create stable, living-wage jobs that prioritize local hiring, and protect jobs with Project Labor Agreements and Labor Harmony Agreements.

Specific initiatives can be reviewed in the resolution text. The resolution was fast-tracked through the Council process and was approved by the full Council on Aug. 12. The ordinance, which would provide measures to implement the resolution, was reviewed at the Aug. 6 Sustainability and Transportation Committee meeting and will be revisited by that committee at a future meeting. AIA Seattle has generally supported the Green New Deal at both the national and local scales. If you have comments as AIA Seattle looks to address the implementation phase, please contact Kirsten.

Seattle Proposes Speeding Up Oil to Electric Heating Conversions
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a plan to speed up the conversion of homes that burn oil for heat to cleaner electric heating as part of the city’s 2018 Seattle Climate Strategy. The Mayor is expected to send the City Council legislation this month that would impose a tax on heating oil and require heating oil tank owners to decommission or upgrade all existing underground oil tanks by 2028. Revenue from the tax will provide rebates and grants for Seattle homeowners to install energy efficient electric heat pumps. Although AIA Seattle has not weighed in on this specific proposal, we have supported this concept as part of our work with Shift Zero to move Washington closer to a zero net carbon built environment. If you have comments on this proposal that you’d like us to consider, please send them to Kirsten.

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) has released its draft of VISION 2050, a long-range growth management, transportation and economic development strategy for the region. PSRC is seeking public comments on multi-county planning policies, implementation actions and the plan as a whole. Public comment is being accepted through Sept. 16. Comments may be submitted here.

Housing Seattle Now
In July, Mayor Durkan announced her Housing Seattle Now initiative outlining various strategies and policies to address housing and homelessness. This initiative rebrands the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, which AIA Seattle previously endorsed. Durkan’s plan outlines four priorities for Housing Seattle Now:

  • Build true educational and economic opportunity;
  • Address displacement and help residents stay in their current housing;
  • Build more housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness, for low-income earners and for middle-income earners like teachers, nurses, and construction workers; and
  • Secure new tools and resources the City can use to address the housing crisis.

Initial steps include proposed legislation to: 1) invest $50 million in housing for people experiencing homelessness through a state mechanism that allows local jurisdictions to retain their sales tax revenue for affordable housing; and 2) renew and improve the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption program.

Seattle’s Center City Streetcar Gets Green Light to Move Forward
After months in limbo, Seattle’s Central City Connector Streetcar line was approved by Mayor Durkan to move forward, albeit with higher cost estimates and a timeline five years later than initially planned. Some design and engineering for the project will have to be redone. The Center City Connector will link Seattle’s two existing streetcar lines through downtown. On Aug. 12, the City Council passed an ordinance to authorize $9 million for additional design work on the Center City Streetcar. AIA Seattle sent a letter to Mayor Durkan in Oct. 2018 supporting the project and asking her to formally approve the construction of this key connection to Seattle’s streetcar system.


AIA Seattle Seeks Members Interested in Issues Related to Unreinforced Masonry Buildings
AIA Seattle is creating a Task Force to work on Seattle’s response to the danger presented by unreinforced masonry buildings. A city advisory committee issued recommendations in 2017, but further action has stalled. The Task Force will advocate for action by the city and identify key recommendations from or external to the 2017 report. Contact Kirsten if you are interested in participating.

King County Mobility Coalition’s Connect 2020 Field Trip – Sept. 6
The King County Mobility Coalition’s Education and Outreach Committee provides deep dives into new or improved transportation options. Members of the public are invited to participate in the Coalition’s next Education and Outreach Field Trip, which will focus on Connect2020, Sound Transit’s plan to “single-track” trains in the first ten weeks of 2020 to align the new East King County Link light rail tracks with the downtown Seattle Central Link tunnel. The field trip will include representatives from Sound Transit as well as a visit to Pioneer Square to see where the changes are being made. Sept. 6, 10:00 am – noon, at Union Station’s Ruth Fisher Boardroom (401 S Jackson St, Seattle — 1st floor). RSVP by Aug. 30.


AIA Seattle Task Force Meetings

AIA Seattle members are invited to attend these policy-focused meetings, which occur monthly:

  • Transportation Task Force Monthly Meeting: Sept. 10, 5:30-6:30 @ CFAD
  • Housing Task Force Monthly Meeting: Sept. 12, noon-1:15 pm @ CFAD

Let Kirsten know if you’d like to be added to the email list for either task force.

Other Events

Built Green Conference – Sept. 12, Lynnwood
Cutting-edge information on green building and sustainability through an array of immersive topics related to green building. More info here.

Getting to Zero Forum – Oct. 10-11, Oakland
A solutions-focused event dedicated to zero energy and zero carbon buildings. Through AIA’s membership in Shift Zero, AIA members can receive a 10% discount on the Full Forum pass using the code GTZ19SZ10.

We’d love to hear from you! To comment or for more information on these or any other topics, or to join a task force, please contact:

Kirsten Smith
Manager of Policy and Advocacy
AIA Seattle + AIA Washington Council
206-957-1926 |