Advocacy Update – March 2021

This month in advocacy: President Biden reversed Trump's classical architecture mandate; the state legislature passes the halfway mark; Seattle's Comprehensive Plan process gets ready for public engagement; AIA Seattle kicks off 15-Minute Seattle programming; opportunities to join local, state, and national boards and committees; and more!


Biden Reverses Trump’s Classical Architecture Order
In February, President Joe Biden reversed Former President Donald Trump’s move to preference classical architecture in federal buildings as part of the new administration’s review of Trump-era executive orders. Under former President Trump’s executive order, government agencies could mandate an architectural style preference for federal courthouses and other federal buildings. It also promoted “classical” and “traditional” architecture above other designs and required extensive justification to use other styles. AIA National worked to stop the order for more than a year. “By overturning this order, the Biden Administration has restored communities with the freedom of design choice that is essential to designing federal buildings that best serve the public,” said AIA 2021 President Peter Exley FAIA in AIA National’s statement.


State Legislative Session Passes the Halfway Mark
We are more than halfway through Washington’s 2021 state legislative session; bills that have not passed out of their house of origin (except for bills necessary to implement the budget) are dead for the year. You can read AIA Washington Council’s February legislative report here. You can also follow along at AIA|WA’s Legislative Center. Highlights for AIA thus far include:

  • Practice: alternative project delivery reauthorization for state contracting continues to move towards enactment. AIA-opposed bills to weaken both professional licensing and local governments’ ability to review architectural and engineering plans have died.
  • Climate: AIA’s priority bill to promote building electrification failed to win enough support among Democrats and is dead for 2021; AIA will work with stakeholders on this bill over the summer and fall to be ready to move it forward in 2022. Embodied carbon legislation also died, but a pilot program may be resurrected in the budget negotiations at the end of the session. Bills that continue to move include HB 1050, reducing emissions from hydroflourocarbons; HB 1184, water quality standards for greywater systems; and SB 5141, environmental justice.
  • School construction: once again, bills to amend Washington’s constitution to lower the threshold for voters to pass school bonds for new construction failed to move forward.
  • Tax: legislation to implement a capital gains tax passed the Senate and is currently in the House. This is the only major tax bill that is likely to advance this year.
  • Growth management: legislation to add climate, equity, and more robust housing elements to the existing planning requirements under the Growth Management Act (HB 1099 and HB 1220) passed the House and are currently being considered in the Senate.
  • Housing: unlike last year, most bills related to encouraging greater housing availability did not survive the house of origin cut-off. One that did, SB 5235, would prohibit owner-occupancy requirements for lots with an ADU and ban local limits on the number of persons who can reside in a home beyond state law. That bill is pending in the House. AIA is also tracking bills that add additional funding mechanisms for local governments to pay for affordable housing.
  • Social justice: AIA is tracking a large number of bills on renter’s rights, criminal justice, legal reforms, and additional equity-related measures and encouraging members to weigh in with their legislators on bills that are important to you. These bills –particularly criminal justice reform – have been prioritized by Democratic leadership. You can see the full list on AIA’s bill tracking matrix.

You may view AIA’s bill tracking matrix found here (‘AIA’s bill tracker’ under Tools).
For more information, contact Kirsten.


Democracy Vouchers Available for Seattle Elections
Seattle residents should have received your four Democracy Vouchers for the 2021 campaign season. Hard copies were mailed in early February. If you signed up for online vouchers in 2019, you will not receive hard copy vouchers but should have received an email from the city linking to the online system. The vouchers are worth $25 each and can be signed over to individual candidates for Seattle mayor, city council, and city attorney anytime through November. Campaigns turn the vouchers over to the city for reimbursement. Seattle residents can send their vouchers to any qualified campaigns they choose for the primary or the general election. However, be aware that campaigns can max out on Democracy Voucher money before the end of election season. More info on how to use your vouchers is available here.

Seattle Comprehensive Plan 2024
This summer, Seattle will begin its process of developing the city’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan under the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA), which requires most counties and cities in the state to prepare comprehensive plans that show how they will manage population over the following two decades. The GMA defines a set of goals for managing growth and lays out the basic contents of comprehensive plans. But Seattle will have significant opportunity to craft the scope and content of its plan, and that process will be open to public input throughout the plan’s development cycle. Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development will begin the scoping process this July, and AIA Seattle will be offering programming to get architects and members of the public prepared to participate. If you are interested in helping with this effort, please let Kirsten know.

15-Minute Seattle Series
AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force is developing 15-Minute Seattle: Creating Livable Places for All, a series of programs that will kick off in June. The series will present a comprehensive look at how Seattle can become a 15-minute city where residents can work, shop, access services, and socialize – all within a short walk from their homes. The Housing Task Force will present the featured event on housing innovation in the 15-minute city with a keynote by Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen of Gehl in Copenhagen. Using the concept of complete neighborhoods as a framework, we will explore how Seattle can provide a mix of housing options for homeowners, renters, and people of different ages and walks of life. We are looking for AIA committees and partner organizations that are interested in providing complementary programming under the 15-Minute Seattle banner (think: other amenities and characteristics of the 15-minute city, like walkability, transit, green spaces and public spaces, child care, access to food options, etc.). For more information, please contact Kirsten.


Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board
The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board is seeking two new members to serve two-year terms starting this spring. The Pedestrian Advisory Board advises the Mayor, City Council, and city departments on projects, policies, and programs that improve or affect walking and rolling conditions in Seattle. Members also serve as stewards of Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan vision. More info available here. Applications are due March 23.

Seattle Renters’ Commission
The City of Seattle is seeking community members to serve on the Seattle Renters’ Commission (SRC). The Seattle Renters’ Commission advises the City on policies and issues of interest to renters citywide. Members of the Seattle Renters’ Commission must be a renter within the City of Seattle at the time of their appointment and throughout their term. The Commission consists of people living in an array of rental housing types, to include students, low-income renters, LGBTQ renters, people with past felony convictions, people in subsidized housing, and those who have experienced homelessness. Those interested in being considered should complete the online application by Monday, April 12 at 5 p.m.

Washington State Board for Architects
The Washington State Board for Architects will have a Board Member position available starting in June 2021. The seven-member, governor-appointed board is made up of six registered architects who reside in Washington and have at least eight years’ experience in responsible charge of architectural work or teaching – and one member of the public. The Board’s primary function is to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare through regulating the practice of architecture. Board member responsibilities include:

  • Attending board meetings (approx. 4 a year)
  • Participating in board committees for specific projects
  • Acting as a case manager or as part of the judicial panel in disciplinary cases
  • Representing the board responsibly to the profession and the public
  • Attending national council meetings as needed
  • Reviewing applications as needed

This is a fantastic opportunity for someone looking to participate in shaping the profession; women and architects of color are encouraged to apply. More information about this position is available here. Applications should be submitted by April 15.

NCARB Committees
The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is accepting applications for volunteers to serve on committees for July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. More information about NCARB committees can be found here. Applications are available here.


AIA Seattle Committee Meetings

  • AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force continues to meet monthly on the second Thursday of each month at noon via Zoom.
  • AIA Seattle’s Transportation Task Force meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 5:30-6:30 pm via Zoom.

For info on how to access either meeting, contact Kirsten.

Post-COVID Urbanism by AIA’s Urban Design Forum     March 24
This roundtable event provides a platform to discuss opportunities and challenges regarding the tactical urbanism measures Seattle has implemented to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our communities. As we prepare for a future beyond the pandemic, we ask, “What is  Post-COVID Urbanism?” How do we maintain a safe, healthy environment that provides a connected system of neighborhoods and that brings economic viability equitably to all businesses? More info


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 |