Advocacy Update – February 2020

This month in state and local advocacy: a Trump Administration proposal on federal building design; the state legislative session passes the halfway mark; new solid waste guidance from SPU; Seattle's Green New Deal; Mayor Durkan’s Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council issues recommendations; and more.


Support Federal Legislation to Phase Down HFCs
Architects Advocate, an independent group of architects and firms formed to advocate for policies to mitigate climate change, is calling for architects to support two bipartisan bills in Congress that would phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) commonly used in refrigerants and replace them with climate-friendlier alternatives. They ask architects to consider signing on to a letter written by E2, a partner of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). You may review the letter and sign here (by signing, you are not committing to attend the Special Event on Feb. 28 – the form is a bit confusing).

AIA Opposes Trump Administration Proposal on Design for Federal Buildings
The Trump Administration is considering a draft executive order that would officially designate “classical” architecture as the preferred style for the following building types: federal courthouses, all federal public buildings in the Capitol region, and all other federal public buildings over $50 million in modern dollars. The AIA at all levels strongly and unequivocally opposes this change in policy to promote any style of architecture over another for these types of federal buildings across the country. AIA Seattle sent a letter to the Administration expressing our opposition. Individuals interested in commenting on the proposal can do so via AIA National’s grassroots website here.


Washington’s 2020 Legislative Session Passes the Halfway Mark
The state legislative session in Olympia has reached the point where all bills must have passed on to their opposite house or they are dead. For details on the legislative session and AIA’s priority issues, you may read AIA Washington Council’s latest Legislative Update here. If you would like to weigh in with legislators on any of these issues, or if you have comments for AIA|WA, please contact Kirsten.


New Solid Waste Guidance from SPU
Seattle Public Utilities Solid Waste has updated CAM 1301, its guidance document for solid waste planning for new and redeveloping buildings, as well as the Checklist for Designers that provides SPU with the data it needs to review and approve solid waste storage, access, and collection designs. AIA members participated in focus groups with SPU and provided feedback as it developed these guidelines.

Mayor Issues Executive Order on a Green New Deal for Seattle
In January, Mayor Durkan signed an Executive Order committing Seattle to operate all new or substantially altered City of Seattle buildings without fossil fuels and develop a strategy to eliminate fossil fuel use in existing city buildings by January 2021. The Executive Order also requires annual Green New Deal reports through 2030 and directs the Office of Sustainability and Environment to engage stakeholders to achieve the following goals of the Green New Deal:

  • Reduce pollution to limit the average global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C;
  • Promote economic opportunity and inclusive access to stable, well-paying jobs; and
  • Advance environmental justice by ensuring the benefits and investments of the clean energy transition accrue to those communities and populations historically most burdened by the fossil fuel economy.

AIA Seattle supports these moves and hopes that the city’s actions will help further work to address emissions from privately-owned buildings, including a ban on new gas hookups that is currently being considered by the City Council.

Mayor’s Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council Offers Housing Recommendations
In January, Mayor Durkan’s Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council offered its report recommending a suite of strategies that government, the private sector, and community organizations can act on to increase housing options available to middle-income families and individuals. The recommendations, which will be considered by Mayor Durkan over the coming months, are suggested tools to help create more opportunities for homeownership, bring more housing online faster, and increase housing options in neighborhoods throughout the city. The Council recommended three high-impact actions:

  • Reduce costs of building housing by promoting partnerships with private sector investors and philanthropic dollars for innovative real estate financing.
  • Advocate to the state to extend the Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) program beyond 12 years of affordability.
  • Reduce construction costs and bring new homes online as quickly as possible by reforming permitting practices.

Read the full report here. AIA Seattle advocates for policies that address housing affordability and access at all income levels. We support these measures and continue to work with the city and affiliated groups to reduce permit times, in particular.


Join AIA Seattle’s Outreach Efforts to Address Housing Policy
AIA’s Housing Task Force has identified areas where the chapter can support policies related to providing more housing flexibility and infill in the city’s neighborhoods as well as addressing housing availability and affordability issues as part Seattle’s next comprehensive plan growth strategy. Below are areas of outreach that we will be focusing on throughout 2020. If you are interested in participating in any of these efforts, or if you have other comments or suggestions, please let Kirsten know.

  • CfAD Gallery Exhibit. Dec. 2020-Feb. 2021.  AIA’s gallery space is reserved during this time period for an exhibit on how Seattle will navigate changes to single family zoning as it embarks on its next comprehensive plan update. We’re looking for volunteers to participate on a curatorial team that will flesh out how we want to showcase issues related to zoning, missing middle housing, and Seattle’s growth strategy in terms of messaging and exhibit take-aways.
  • 2020 Seattle Design Festival. AIA is looking for members willing to brainstorm and implement an exhibit or other event on these same housing themes for this year’s Design Festival.
  • Tours
    • AIA’s 2nd Annual ADU Tour is scheduled for June 6, 2020. We welcome volunteers interested in working on the committee that is organizing the tour.
    • Missing Middle Housing Tours: AIA’s Housing Task Force is interested in creating walking tours that focus on existing missing middle housing in locations such as Capitol Hill, the Volunteer Park area, the Pine Street Cottages, and elsewhere.  We are looking for architects interested in helping to identify locations and lead tours.
  • Cross-Advocacy Group Public Campaign. The Housing Task Force is interested in engaging with other groups in a citywide, Minneapolis-style campaign around providing infill in single family zones. We’ll be meeting with other groups currently doing this work such as Sightline and the Urbanist. We’d love to have volunteers who would like to help with this effort.

Apply to Join the Seattle Planning Commission
The Seattle Planning Commission is looking for new Commissioners. The Planning Commission advises the Mayor, City Council, and city departments on citywide planning goals and policies and provides them with independent advice on land use, zoning, and transportation and housing issues. Applicants must currently reside in Seattle. For more information and how to apply, click here. Applications are due by February 28.


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

  • Transportation Task Force Monthly Meeting: March 9, 5:30-6:30 @ CFAD
  • Housing Task Force Monthly Meeting: March 12, noon-1:15 pm @ CFAD

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

Passive House Northwest Annual Conference – Seattle, March 12-14

Mass Timber Hackathon – Portland, March 20-22

International Mass Timber Conference – Portland, March 24-26


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 |