Advocacy Update – January 2020

This month in state and local advocacy: the 2020 state legislative session is underway in Olympia; the Seattle Planning Commission weighs in on a new growth strategy for Seattle; Mayor Durkan issues a directive for all-electric municipal buildings; Seattle's pre-approved DADU program is open for submittals; SDCI seeks Accela feedback; and more!


Washington’s 2020 Legislative Session is Underway
The state legislative session kicked off this week and will run through mid-March. AIA Washington Council will be providing weekly updates on the bills it is tracking and any new developments. Key issues include:


  • Champion C-PACER (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy & Resiliency) legislation to authorize local governments to create programs that will provide private funding for deep retrofits related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resiliency improvements on commercial property.
  • Review embodied carbon legislation that would require environmental product declarations for materials used in state-funded projects.
  • Support a budget item to provide state funding for additional energy code training and support through WSU’s Energy Program.


  • Support bills to address missing middle housing, including requiring DADUs to be allowed in single family zones (this is already required in Seattle); expanding voluntary measures passed in 2019 to add to the housing supply in cities; and supporting greater density near transit.
  • Support a larger coalition effort to enact a permanent funding source for the state’s Housing Trust Fund, which likely won’t happen until 2021.

Taxes, Budget, School Funding

  • Monitor efforts to address a B&O revenue shortage (because architects’ tax rates were increased last year, we are unlikely to be impacted).
  • Support a capital gains tax.
  • Support bills to reduce the voter threshold for school bonds (currently at 60%).


  • Monitor contracting bills that would impact architectural practice.
  • Monitor efforts to make technical changes to last year’s condo liability reform legislation.

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.


AIA Endorses Planning Commission’s Growth Strategy White Paper
At the direction of the Public Policy Board, AIA Seattle released a statement endorsing the Seattle Planning Commission’s recently released white paper, Evolving Seattle’s Growth Strategy, which calls for a new way of planning as Seattle begins work on the next update of its Comprehensive Plan – which is required by the state’s Growth Management Act. AIA Seattle strongly agrees with the Commission’s assertion that Seattle’s housing strategies must be connected to climate, livability, and race and social justice goals as we make decisions about our transportation networks and land use patterns. The Commission’s call for a reassessment of our current growth strategy, which prohibits virtually all forms of small-scale, multi-family housing within three-quarters of our residential areas, needs to be reassessed using these frameworks. In December, AIA Seattle approved an updated Housing Policy Statement that outlines our vision of Seattle as an equitable, livable, and sustainable city for all its residents. As the Commission’s white paper makes clear, this vision is not attainable within the bounds of Seattle’s current growth strategy.

Durkan Announces an Electric Municipal Building Directive
This month, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an executive order that will require all new and substantially altered city buildings to operate without fossil fuels and directs the city to develop a strategy to eliminate fossil fuel use in existing city buildings by January 2021. Last year, the City Council passed a Green New Deal resolution that said Seattle would seek to eliminate climate pollutants in the city by 2030. This order instructs the Office of Sustainability and Environment to convene an interdepartmental team, start work on various Green New Deal actions, and engage with stakeholders. AIA Seattle members will participate in this process and are currently participating on a City Council workgroup aimed at passing legislation to ban gas hookups in new buildings. This legislation was proposed by former councilmember Mike O’Brien last fall and stakeholders are working with new and remaining councilmembers to find a new legislative champion. Bellingham is also considering a ban on natural gas for residential heating.

Seattle Commercial Code Updates
The City of Seattle and SDCI have started the process of adopting the 2018 Seattle Construction Codes for commercial and multifamily buildings, which includes updating the existing energy code. (These changes will go into effect July 1, 2020.) SDCI is holding a series of meetings in January on possible changes to the Seattle Energy Code. Remaining meetings include:

  • Jan. 21, 2-5pm: Envelope Improvements & C406 Credits
  • Jan. 24, 2-5pm: Energy Modeling
  • Jan. 27, 2-5pm: Mechanical

Contact Kirsten for more details.

Call for DADU Submissions for Seattle’s Pre-Approved Program
Seattle has announced its open submission period for DADU designs that will be pre-approved for construction permits. Designers can submit DADU designs through Feb. 17. Submission requirements are outlined in the city’s Submission Guide. A selection committee will review submissions and identify 6-10 plans that SDCI permitting staff will pre-approve for compliance with certain structural codes. Pre-approved plans will be displayed in an online gallery with images, a description, and information about the designer. Contact the city at for more information.

SDCI Seeks Feedback on the Seattle Services Portal
Seattle’s Dept. of Construction & Inspections is looking for architects who are willing to participate in interviews about SDCI’s Seattle Services Portal. The interviews will be one-on-one, online, and facilitated by a third-party researcher. During the interviews, participants will be asked to talk about their frustrations with and limitations of the Portal and identify ways that the Portal could better meet their needs. If you are interested in participating in an interview to share your experiences, please contact Moon Callison,, with the name, title, and email address of the interested participant.


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.

Help NBI Grow its Getting to Zero Buildings Database
Share your zero energy and ultra low energy commercial building project info with New Buildings Institute (NBI) to help continue to build a comprehensive list of zero energy verified, emerging, and ultra-low energy buildings in North America. More info.


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

  • Transportation Task Force Make Up January Meeting: Jan. 28, 5:30-6:30 @ CFAD
  • Transportation Task Force Monthly Meeting: Feb. 11, 5:30-6:30 @ CFAD
  • Housing Task Force Monthly Meeting: Feb. 13, noon-1:15 pm @ CFAD

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 |