Advocacy Update – December 2019

This month in state and local advocacy: AIA joins a regional housing coalition; Seattle completes its 2020 budget; Seattle seeks comments on SEPA thresholds and solid waste storage; and more!


Governor Releases Supplemental Budget
On Dec. 18, Gov. Inslee released his proposed 2020 Supplemental Budget, which makes adjustments to the two-year state budget passed by the Legislature earlier this year. During the 2020 legislative session that runs from Jan. 13 to March 14, the State House and Senate will develop their own supplemental budgets and will work to reconcile the three versions. Inslee’s proposal adds new funding for homeless shelters, early learning education, and the state’s efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in state employment.

Housing Availability Coalition
AIA Seattle has joined a regional housing coalition led by the Master Builders of King & Snohomish Counties that will focus on state legislation to expand housing availability. Priority legislation includes: increased funding for the state’s Housing Trust Fund and the creation of a permanent funding source in 2021; a state mandate for density near transit; statewide ADU reform (similar to what Seattle passed earlier this year) to require local governments to allow ADUs in specific areas; and an expansion of legislation passed in 2019 to provide financial incentives to local governments that take measures to increase housing density.

New AIA|WA Board Representatives from Seattle
In January, AIA|WA will welcome two new board members to represent AIA Seattle members.  Elizabeth de Regt AIA is an architect and urban designer at ZGF specializing in master planning. She joined the AIA Seattle Board in September as an Advocate Director and will serve as the liaison between the two boards. Doug Ito AIA will also join the AIA|WA Board. He is a principal at SMR Architects and serves as the co-chair of AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force. He is actively involved in affordable housing advocacy and serves on the board of the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle and King County. Elizabeth and Doug will replace Peggy Heim AIA and Mark Cork AIA on the state board. Thanks to both Peggy and Mark for your service and advocacy on behalf of architects in Washington!


Housing Policy Statement Finalized for AIA Seattle’s Board
After four months of review, AIA Seattle’s Housing Policy Statement has been finalized and sent to the Board for approval. The Board will consider the statement at its Dec. 19 meeting. Thanks to all members who participated in discussions on this comprehensive statement. The policy statement will guide AIA’s policy work on housing issues (and related climate and transportation issues) moving forward.

Seattle Passes 2020 Budget
The Seattle City Council passed a 2020 budget on Nov. 25 after making $25 million in changes to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s $6.5 billion proposal. While the bulk of the city’s spending is reserved for basic services provided by the utilities, police, fire, and transportation departments, Council additions to Durkan’s budget included a new tax on Uber and Lyft rides, an expansion of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, and funding for additional tiny house villages and public bathrooms. Funds to pay for these additions will largely come from the Mercer Mega Block transaction. The final budget documents are here.

SDCI Seeks Comments on SEPA Thresholds
Seattle’s Dept. of Construction and Inspections is seeking comment on two Director’s Rules addressing SEPA Thresholds:

  • Draft Director’s Rule 16-2019 determines where higher SEPA infill development thresholds will be in effect for most urban centers and urban villages. There are two different exemption levels that may apply within urban centers and urban villages, depending on whether the growth estimates defined in the city’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan have been exceeded. This rule describes terms, processes, and limits on how exemption levels will be applied. More info here.
  • Sometime this month, SDCI will publish Director’s Rule 17-2019, which has similar updated information about SEPA thresholds and will be open for a 30-day comment period. Once released, you will be able to view that information under Draft Director’s Rules on SDCI’s Director’s Rules page.

Comments Sought on Solid Waste Storage and Access Sections of Land Use Code
Seattle Public Utilities and SDCI are seeking comments on ways to improve the solid waste storage and access sections of Land Use Code. An ordinance currently in draft format would require multifamily buildings to provide on-floor collection locations for recycling, composting, and garbage. Other changes include clarifications, additions for solid waste driver and pedestrian safety, and the inclusion of existing practices. This table summarizes the major proposed changes to the code. The proposed ordinance amended language is here. Because the ordinance has not been officially submitted, the comment period is not yet open. We will notify you when it is, or you can check the SPU website.


Attend AIA Washington Council’s Lobbying Day in Olympia
Join your fellow architects from across the state in Olympia for our annual Capitol Connections event on Thursday, January 23, 2020. At Capitol Connections, you’ll learn about the issues impacting the practice of architecture that are up for consideration during the 2020 legislative session. You’ll also have the opportunity to join other architects at meetings with your own legislators, hear from legislators working on key AIA|WA topics, talk to AIA|WA’s lobbyists, and get a glimpse into how your state legislature operates. Travel costs for all members will be reimbursed. More info here.


AIA Seattle Committee Meetings
AIA Seattle members and others are invited to attend these policy-focused committee meetings, which occur monthly:

  • Housing Task Force Monthly Meeting: Jan. 9, noon-1:15 pm @ CFAD – discussion on how AIA can better showcase quality residential design.
  • Transportation Task Force Monthly Meeting: Jan. 14, 5:30-6:30 @ CFAD – work session on 2020 priorities.

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


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 |

Happy New Year from AIA Seattle Advocacy!