Advocacy Update – June 2018

This month in state and local advocacy: AIA Washington Council's proposal for the use of mass timber in tall buildings is under review by the SBCC, SDCI publishes a final join Director's Rule on Early Community Outreach for Design Review, AIA Seattle submits comments on Seattle's ADU Draft EIS, AIA Seattle weighs-in on Seattle's MHA proposal, and opportunities to get involved in statewide policy issues.


Mass Timber

AIA Washington Council submitted a proposal to the State Building Code Council (SBCC) in May to permit the use of mass timber in the construction of taller buildings. Proposals are currently being reviewed by the SBCC’s technical advisory groups, which will provide recommendations to the SBCC. AIAWA’s proposal is based on two precedents: proposed code changes issued this year by the International Code Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings and legislation passed by the state legislature in March that directs the SBCC to develop codes for wood buildings. That legislation passed with overwhelming support in both houses.


Early Community Outreach for Design Review Finalized

Seattle’s Department of Construction & Inspections and the Department of Neighborhoods published a final joint Director’s Rule for Early Community Outreach for Design Review this month. Disappointingly, the final rule appears to be unchanged from the draft version about which AIA Seattle and other organizations had expressed significant concerns. AIA Seattle’s comments to the city identified several areas where the Rule would make Design Review slower, more expensive, riskier to applicants, weighted toward larger developers and at cross purposes to the program’s stated goals. AIA Seattle supports effective community engagement, but we have concerns about this particular rule and how it might impact architects’ ability to support the city’s housing needs. The city’s decision to finalize the Rule means that it will go into effect on July 1. For reference, the city’s guidance website on Early Community Outreach for Design Review can be found here. AIA Seattle will monitor how Early Community Outreach is working for our members in order to provide additional feedback to the city.

AIA Seattle Submits Comments on Seattle’s ADU Draft EIS

AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force and Public Policy Board submitted comments to Seattle City Council Central Staff on the city’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement related to Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s proposal to make accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs) easier to build in the city. AIA Seattle has been supportive of this effort as a way to provide additional housing units in the city, particularly in single family neighborhoods.

AIA Seattle Weighs-in on Seattle’s MHA Propsal

AIA Seattle’s Committee on Homelessness organized groups to testify at City Council district hearings on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program this spring. In addition, AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force has met with six City Council offices—Councilmembers Herbold, Johnson, O’Brien and Sawant and staff from the offices of Councilmembers Juarez and Mosqueda—to discuss what architects are seeing on the ground in the areas where MHA has already gone into effect. For more information, contact Kirsten Smith, Manager of Policy and Advocacy.


State Policy Opportunities

Interested in influencing state policy related to the practice of architecture? Consider joining one of AIA Washington Council’s policy committees. These committees meet by email or phone during the legislative session to review legislation and discuss AIAWA’s policy priorities. Outside of the session, committees meet less frequently. Contact Kirsten Smith if you are interested in learning more about any of the following committees:

Climate Committee: reviews climate change-related bills, carbon pricing policies, and energy efficient building incentives. Also weighs in on other climate issues including solar, energy use, refrigerants, and more.

Codes Committee: addresses building, energy and other codes that impact architects’ work. Monitors the actions of the State Building Code Council (SBBC) and advocates on behalf of the SBBC before the legislature.

Livability & Affordability Committee: advocates for the benefits of robust regional planning, tracking issues relating to affordable housing, planning, transportation, protection of the Growth Management Act, and more.

Practice Committee: reviews issues affecting the practice of architecture including contracts, alternative project delivery, quality-based selection, and changes to our state Practice Act. In preparation for the 2019 legislative session, the Practice Committee will be working to help craft legislation related to condominium liability reform (see below) and to amend the Practice Act’s statutes on architect licensure to incorporate NCARB’s national standards.

Taxes/Education/Capital Budget Committee: addresses all forms of taxation, funding of the capital budget, and legislative issues dealing with education facilities and funding for K-12 schools and higher education.

Condo Liability Reform

The state legislature is expected to work on some version of condo liability reform next year. Legislation was introduced but failed to pass last year, and we expect this to be a top priority for legislators in 2019. AIA Washington Council will be meeting with key legislators on this issue through the fall and working to craft AIAWA’s position on important elements aimed at decreasing liability around condo projects. If you are interested in participating in a special task force on condo liability, please contact Kirsten Smith.

Legislative Meetings

Through the summer and fall, AIA Washington Council will be setting up meetings with most state legislators to discuss issues related to the 2019 legislative session. We invite you to participate in meetings with your personal legislators. Talking points on key issues will be provided, members will always attend meetings with other members and/or staff, and members are welcome to bring their own topics of interest to the discussion. Although you will be notified if a meeting is scheduled in your district, please contact Kirsten Smith to let us know if you are interested in participating in one or more meetings with your elected officials. You can look up your legislators here.


City of Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections Forum on Pre-Approved DADU Plans

July 23, 5:30pm @ the Center
Last month Mayor Jenny Durkan released a statement indicating continued city interest in developing sets of pre-approved plans for detached accessory dwelling units to make DADUs less expensive and quicker to build. AIA Seattle is hosting this forum by the Seattle Deptartment of Construction & Inspections (SDCI), which will present current city plans related to DADUs and seek feedback from attendees.

AIA Seattle Committee & Task Force Meetings

Committee on Homelessness. July 10, noon – 1pm @ the Center.

Housing Task Force. July 12, noon – 1:15pm @ 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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