Advocacy Update – August 2021

This month in local advocacy: Neighborhood Residential's moment arrives; small lot development standards proposed for Belltown; Seattle's new stormwater code goes into effect; new uses for downtown storefronts are under consideration; and Climate Advocacy Week returns!

LOCAL NEWS

2020 MHA Report Released
Seattle’s Office of Housing released its first annual report on the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability and Incentive Zoning program, including long-anticipated data on housing projects’ use of payment versus performance under the program. While any adjustments to the MHA pricing will likely occur only as part of the city’s major Comprehensive Plan update (2021-24), AIA is interested in member comments on what you are seeing in this report. Please contact Kirsten.

Legislation to Rename Seattle’s Single Family Zones Moves Through Council
Legislation to rename Seattle’s single family zoning category to “neighborhood residential” was discussed during the Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee meeting on July 28 and will be up for a public hearing in the same committee on Sept. 22 followed by a committee vote tentatively scheduled for Sept. 24. If you would like to weigh in with your city councilmember(s) on this issue, you can do so via email or phone. You can also testify via phone at either of the Sept. 22 or Sept. 24 committee meetings. This change would impact the name only; it would not impact what is currently allowed in single family zones. Any changes to existing zoning will be part of the major Comprehensive Plan Update scheduled to be completed in 2024.

Council Committee Passes Legislation to Fill Downtown Storefronts
Legislation to allow additional uses for downtown storefronts was approved by the City Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee on July 28 and will move to the full City Council for approval in September. The legislation is aimed at finding uses for empty downtown spaces by allowing additional uses that are currently allowed in other neighborhoods but not downtown. The ordinance would be temporary, lasting for 12 months (unless Council extends it), but any permits authorized under it would be permanent. Additional info is contained in the Director’s Memo. This is a good time to contact your city councilmember(s) if you would like to comment on this legislation.

Small Lot Development Standards Legislation Introduced
Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development has proposed legislation to support development on small lots in the Downtown Mixed Residential zones of Belltown. The purpose is to simplify building forms, allowing more consistent floor layouts that will enable modular and panelized construction. The goal is to facilitate more housing in Belltown’s DMR zones by implementing one of the recommendations of the Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council on innovative construction. This legislation is currently pending before the Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee.

Seattle’s Stormwater Code Update Takes Effect
Seattle’s updated Stormwater Code and Manual went into effect on July 1. There are some significant changes, which you can review on SDCI’s Stormwater Code website. SDCI will hold Q&A sessions on the code every Wednesday in August from 2-3 pm.

Regional Housing Strategy Open for Comment
In July, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) released its draft Regional Housing Strategy (RHS). The strategy is a collection of regional and local measures to preserve, improve, and expand the region’s housing inventory. It is intended to support the region’s many housing actors and future housing planning actions, including Washington’s Growth Management Act and PSRC’s (King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties) Vision 2050, that help direct the four-county region’s growth. You can read more about the Strategy itself here. The PSRC is seeking public comment on the draft document, which you can access here.

Shoreline Moves Forward on Energy Code Proposal
On August 16, the Shoreline City Council voted to direct city staff to develop an ordinance that would adopt stronger energy code provisions for commercial and large multifamily buildings. Shoreline is taking the lead from Seattle’s 2021 code language, which largely eliminates fossil fuels from new commercial buildings. See the Shoreline City Council notes here. AIA Seattle submitted a letter in support of this action. Thank you to C. Ray Allshouse AIA, Shoreline’s building official, and Duane Jonlin FAIA, Energy Code & Conservation Advisor for the City of Seattle, for helping to move this proposal forward.


OPPORTUNITIES

Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board Seeks New Members
The Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board is a public volunteer board that advises the Mayor, City Council, and City Departments on projects, policies, and programs that improve or impact bicycling conditions in Seattle. Three seats are currently open on the Board. More information is available here. Applications are due by Friday, August 27.


EVENTS

Join us at the Seattle Design Festival! Aug. 21-22
The Seattle Design Festival Block Party is a two-day street fair celebrating the powerful ways design affects our lives. This fun outdoor event is an opportunity for the design community and the public to come together and interact through large-scale design installations, performances, and design activities all centered around the Festival’s 2021 theme, EMERGE. Join us Aug. 21-22 at Lake Union Park!

AIA Seattle Committee Meetings

  • AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force meets monthly via Zoom on the second Thursday of each month at noon via Zoom. For info on how to access the meeting, contact Kirsten.

Upcoming Events – Dates TBD
These online events will occur in September or October but do not yet have a firm date. If you would like to be notified when one or more are scheduled, please let Kirsten know.

  • Seattle Housing Policy Update – AIA’s Public Policy Board will provide an update on the many pieces of housing policy swirling around Seattle right now (late September).
  • Seattle Budget Process 101 – Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda’s staff will lead us in an overview of how Seattle’s annual budgeting process works and how you can provide input and advocacy (mid-September – the budget process itself will run October-November).
  • Climate Advocacy Week – this event is back to provide support for local energy codes designed to get fossil fuels out of buildings. The 2021 edition will focus on King County’s effort to update its energy code for commercial and large multifamily buildings. King County’s changes will be similar to but slightly different than the Seattle Energy Code update that was the subject of last year’s Climate Advocacy Week. We’ll be looking for AIA members interested in joining a virtual group meeting with their King County Councilmember and presenting a webinar for those who want to learn more about the King County process and other building electrification measures locally and statewide (early October).

 

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 | kirstens@aiaseattle.org

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