Advocacy Update – July 2018

This month in state and local advocacy: I-1631 reaches the November ballot, discussions on B&O tax reform continue, and Seattle launches new 2030 Challenge Pilot Program. PLUS, AIA Seattle establishes two new task forces to address issues related to transportation and the public realm.


I-1631 Reaches Ballot, Endorsements Sought

The signature gathering effort for Washington Initiative 1631, which would establish a carbon fee to reduce incentives for fossil fuel use, generate funds to invest in renewable resources and promote energy efficiency, was successful. The measure will appear on the November 2018 ballot statewide. AIA Seattle’s Board of Directors endorsed I-1631. If any firms would like to endorse the initiative, they may do so here.

AIA Members Attend Meetings on B&O Tax Reform

State House Finance Committee members led by Chair Noel Frame (D-Ballard/Queen Anne/Magnolia/ Belltown) held work group sessions on reforming the B&O tax in Spokane, Yakima, and Vancouver this month. AIA Washington Council members (AIAWA) attended each meeting. Representatives heard overwhelming dissatisfaction with the B&O tax, its focus on revenue rather than profits, the regressive nature of the tax and its discouragement of small businesses and start-ups. The majority of attendees supported a revenue neutral shift to a more profit-based system. Responding to the need to replace any lost revenue, discussions included potential capital gains, business income and individual income taxes. AIAWA will be discussing these issues and formulating its tax policy priorities throughout the fall. If you have comments that you’d like included, or if you would like to take part in these discussions, email Kirsten Smith.


Seattle Services Portal Continues to Uninspire

AIA Seattle sent a letter this week to Mayor Durkan and City Councilmembers expressing frustration with the severe disruptions related to permitting and inspection requests that were caused by the introduction of the new Seattle Services Portal system on April 30. The problems with the new Portal are exacerbating existing permitting problems including significant delays, poor response rates to applicant questions and overworked and frustrated city staff. In our letter, AIA Seattle calls for the city to ultimately set realistic target dates for individual review as well as accurate predictions of permit review time frames. If you are experiencing issues with the Portal, we ask that you email the mayor and/or your city councilmember(s). Although they are very familiar with these problems, more voices will add urgency to the push for solutions. Mayor Durkan can be reached at: Contact info for individual councilmembers can be found here. If you need help, email Kirsten Smith.

Members Weigh in on Pre-Approved Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs)

On July 23, AIA Seattle members met with representatives of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development and the Department of Construction and Inspections presented the city’s current thinking on finding ways to make DADUs more feasible to build for homeowners who would otherwise be unlikely to consider them. One idea under consideration is the development of pre-approved plans available to the public. Although no firm proposal is currently in place, the city talked about three potential ideas:

  1. hire architects through an RFP to create approved plans for a fee;
  2. hold a design competition to elicit plans for pre-approval; and
  3. producing a catalogue of previously approved plans available to the public for a design fee.

In all cases the city would pre-approve the plans and make them available to homeowners via a city website. Event attendees offered lots of comments and suggestions related to these alternatives. They also provided suggestions on ways to make the process more useful to homeowners and more realistic for designers. Getting the price low enough to encourage a significant uptick in DADUs, even for basic designs, remains a concern. For more information on the ideas generated from this meeting, contact Kirsten Smith.

Seattle 2030 Challenge Pilot Program

The Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan enacted legislation creating the 2030 Challenge Pilot Program in July. The Pilot will provide up to two additional floors and a 25% floor area ratio bonus (30% for unreinforced masonry buildings) in exchange for major renovation projects meeting the performance goals of the 2030 Challenge for energy usage, water management, and transportation. For more information, see the city’s Pilot Program website.

Update: Early Community Outreach for Design Review

In our June Advocacy Update we included info on the City of Seattle’s final joint Director’s Rule for Early Community Outreach for Design Review. We commented that the final rule was unchanged from the draft version that the city submitted for public comment. We have since learned that the city inadvertently posted the earlier version of the rule as final on its website. You can read the correct version as well as a summary of the changes made between versions here. The DCI has offered to hold an info session for AIA members if there is enough interest. If you are interested in attending such an info session, contact Kirsten Smith.


New Task Forces on Transportation and the Public Realm

AIA Seattle’s Public Policy Board will be establishing two new task forces to address issues related to transportation and the public realm. Task forces generally meet monthly and focus on developing AIA Seattle’s position on the topic and coordinating the chapter’s response to related issues as they arise. To kick off our efforts in both of these areas, the Public Policy Board (PPB) will be hosting evening events for all members to share ideas, offer feedback, and identify priorities. Public Realm issues will be fleshed out at our Policy Pub Night on August 15, and members will have an opportunity to weigh in on transportation issues at a forum on September 4. More info on these events below.


PPB Pub Night on the Public Realm

August 15, 5:30pm – 7:30pm @ DLR Group | 51 University Street #600, Seattle
Join the Public Policy Board for food and drinks and a small group discussions of what AIA Seattle’s priorities should be related to the public realm. No presentations; drop by anytime.

PPB Transportation Policy Forum

September 4, 5:30-7:00 pm @ the Center | 1010 Western Avenue, Seattle
Join the Public Policy Board for an exploration of AIA Seattle’s policy agenda related to transportation issues, including bike, pedestrian, cars, transit and more. Help us identify AIA’s priorities as we identify a policy work plan going forward.

AIA Seattle Committee & Task Force Meetings

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

Housing Task Force. August 9, noon – 1:15pm @ the Center.
Committee on Homelessness. August 14, noon – 1pm @ the Center.

For more information on these or any other topics, or to join a task force, please contact:

Kirsten Smith
Manager of Policy and Advocacy
AIA Washington Council & AIA Seattle
206-448-4938 x401 |

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