Advocacy Update – August 2020

This month in local, state and federal advocacy: AIA National's policy platform; state rulemaking updates; SDCI's Omnibus Legislation; virtual Design Review board meetings; Portland's sweeping zoning reform; and more!


AIA National Policy Platform
AIA National has released a federal policy platform in advance of this year’s presidential elections. General categories include:

  • A future economy
  • Climate action
  • Healthy and equitable communities


Clean Energy Transformation Act
The Washington Department of Commerce has released its second set of draft rules for the state’s Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) (SB 5116, 2019), which commits Washington to an electricity supply free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. Written comments from the public are due by Sept. 14. More info about CETA and the draft is available here. AIA Washington Council supported this legislation in 2019 but has not taken an active role in the rulemaking as it does not directly relate to AIA’s built environment-related climate priorities.

Clean Building Performance Standards
Washington’s Clean Buildings Act (HB 1257, 2019) requires the Department of Commerce to develop a state energy performance standard for commercial buildings greater than 50,000 square feet. After a year of stakeholder input, the proposed rules are expected to be published on Sept. 2. Additional input will be solicited as part of a public hearing process, with the final rules established by Nov. 1. AIA|WA will hold a webinar to explain the new rules in November. More info on the state’s Clean Buildings program here.


Bike Parking Changes in SDCI Omnibus Bill
The Seattle City Council’s Land Use & Neighborhoods Committee approved omnibus legislation related to SDCI that included changes to bike parking requirements for affordable housing. These changes reflect significant lobbying by Seattle’s bike lobby and affordable housing advocates. Subject to approval by full Council, the changes would:

  • Restore short-term bike parking requirements for affordable housing.
  • Limit the exemption from bike parking requirements for affordable housing to only projects serving 30 percent AMI and below (permanent supportive housing).
  • Remove the proposed bike parking exemption for 30-60 percent AMI affordable housing projects.
  • Allow the SDCI Director to waive bike parking requirements for 30-60 percent AMI affordable housing projects if:
    • The waiver would allow more affordable units to be produced.
    • Reasonable alternatives for bike storage are provided; authorizes SDCI and SDOT to promulgate a joint Director’s Rule to define reasonable alternatives.
  • Clarify that the SDCI Director can waive bike parking for non-profit senior housing or housing for persons with disabilities, regardless of whether it is in a congregate residence.
  • Limit the number of stair steps to access bicycle parking, whether interior or exterior, to five.

SDCI Rolls Out Virtual Design Review Board Meetings
SDCI has begun a gradual rollout of virtual Design Review Board meetings for Early Design Guidance meetings only and plans to reassess the process for all projects in September. More info is available here.

SDCI Virtual Inspections Survey
SDCI is seeking users of its virtual inspection process to complete a brief survey on their experience. SDCI is also seeking users to participate as stakeholders on its Virtual Inspections Project team. More info here.

2018 Code Updates
REMINDER: the 2018 Seattle Construction Code adoption is delayed until Feb. 1, 2021 to match the state’s adoption schedule. Seattle is holding public meetings to discuss the Seattle Energy Code amendments, providing local stakeholders with an opportunity to further improve the amended language. Contact Kirsten if you would like to attend any of the following sessions:

  • Thursday, August 27, 9:30 AM – 12:00: General, Envelope, Lighting & Electrical
  • Thursday, September 10, 9:30 AM – 12:00: C406 Efficiency Credits & C407 Modeling
  • Thursday, September 17, 9:30 AM – 12:00: Mechanical & water heating
  • Thursday, September 24, 9:30 AM – 12:00: As required for unresolved issues

Written comments may also be sent to Duane Jonlin FAIA.

Bellevue Reduces Parking Rules for Affordable Housing Near Transit
The Bellevue City Council approved of Ordinance 6513, imposing reduced parking standards for affordable housing developments near transit. AIA Seattle has supported removing or eliminating parking requirements in areas served by frequent transit to boost affordable and other housing in areas where residents are less likely to own cars.

Portland’s Residential Infill Project Passes
Portland passed comprehensive zoning reform on Aug. 11, allowing four homes to be built on any residential lot in the city and up to six homes per lot if at least half the homes are affordable to low-income residents. The reforms, called the Residential Infill Project, also remove parking mandates from 75 percent of the city’s residential land and increase allowable lot coverage for buildings over one unit – duplexes will be allowed to three-fifths the square footage of their lot and triplexes and fourplexes up to 0.7.

AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force and its Public Policy Board are working to strengthen AIA’s efforts to promote flexibility in single family zones. The Housing Task Force has established a Slack channel to engage AIA members in conversation around re-imaging single family zoning. Contact Kirsten if you are interested in participating in the Housing Task Force or the Slack channel.


ADU Showcase
AIA’s ADU Showcase, the online version of our cancelled ADU Tour, is accepting applications. Projects must be built, designed by an AIA member, and located in one of AIA Seattle’s operating counties. Firms/sole practitioners are limited to one entry each.  More info is available here.


Seattle Design Festival: It’s About Time We House Everyone
Join AIA’s Housing Task Force for an interactive exploration of missing middle housing (and more) in Seattle or your city. Check out our examples and add your own housing finds. Join the conversation as we strive for a more equitable, livable, and sustainable city for all. Website here. Check out all Seattle Design Festival events here.

AIA Seattle Committee Meetings
The Center for Architecture and Design is closed until the governor’s Stay Home Stay Healthy order is lifted. All meetings and events are either canceled or moved to an online or conference call format. Check AIA’s events page for more details on specific events.

  • AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force continues to meet monthly on the second Tuesday at noon via Zoom. For info on how to access the meeting, contact Kirsten.
  • AIA Seattle’s Transportation Task Force is meeting on an ad hoc basis via Zoom. To be added to the Task Force’s email list, contact Kirsten.

Embodied Carbon 101 (Boston Society of Architects): Process + firm culture
Monday, August 24 from 12-1 pm PDT. With moderator Barbra Batshalom (Sustainable Performance Institute) and speakers Colin Booth (Placetailor), Steven Burke (Consigli), Amy Hattan (Thornton Tomasetti), Andrea Love (Payette), and Kimberly Seigel (Perkins+Will). Register here.  See the BSA’s embodied carbon series recorded events here.

GoGreen Virtual Conference Seattle
Sept. 8-9. More info.

Zero Carbon Conference: Scaling our Decarbonized Future – International Living Future Institute
Online Oct. 7-8  More info.

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

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