Advocacy Update – March 2022
This week in state and local advocacy: our recap of the state legislative session; Seattle releases its draft tree ordinance; building performance standards move from state to local; your opportunity to weigh in on AIA's work around Design Review and trees; and more!
State Legislative Session Update
The state legislature adjourned for the year on March 10. Thank to you all of you who supported AIA’s efforts in Olympia. Here is a list of AIA’s highlights from the session (you can read an overview of non-AIA issues here); look for more details from AIA|WA next week.
Key building electrification bills fell afoul of opposition from the gas utilities, homebuilders, and some unions, including HB 1770 to develop a voluntary residential energy reach code that local governments could opt to use instead of baseline state code and two bills that would have required utilities to begin the transition to electric power and allow public utilities to offer customer incentives for electrification. Bills that passed included SB 5722 to extend some state building performance requirements to smaller commercial and multi-family buildings and HB 1280 to require an analysis of the use of all-electrification systems as part of the pre-design work for large state buildings. The biggest loss was HB 1099, which would have added a climate element to the state’s Growth Management Act requirements. This legislation needed to pass this year to impact the 2024 comp plan updates. It passed both houses and passed the Senate a second time but failed to receive a vote on the House floor to approve the conference committee version of the bill in the final minutes of the session.
AIA|WA opposed legislation that would have required a combination of green roof technology and solar on all commercial and multi-family buildings over 50,000 sq ft because it did not offer flexibility or choice; we expect to see a version of this bill back next year.
The legislature continues to be good at passing bills related to SEPA and local government taxing mechanisms for affordable housing, but its record is poor at providing state mandates on local zoning to increase housing capacity. AIA-supported legislation that passed included SB 5818 to limit SEPA and GMA appeals on affordable housing projects and HB 1643 to provide for a real estate excise tax (REET) exemption for selling property to nonprofits and public housing authorities to use for affordable housing. Legislation that did not pass included HB 1660 to prohibit restrictions related to ADUs and, most notably, HB 1782 on missing middle housing, which started out by requiring fourplexes to sixplexes in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family detached housing (depending on city size and proximity to frequent transit). HB 1882 to create a housing benefit district pilot program to plan and fund land acquisition for affordable housing near major transit stops also failed to pass.
AIA opposed HB 2049 to eliminate local plan review for most plans stamped by an architect or engineer; the bill did not pass but the concept drew a number of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors in the belief that it would speed up housing production. AIA will be meeting with these legislators over the summer to talk about the importance of plan review and to offer alternative ideas on how the state could support expediting the permitting process (if you have ideas on this, please let us know!). HB 1592 would have allowed provisional licenses for military spouses moving to Washington with a license from another state. AIA|WA was neutral on the legislation because it would have allowed licensing authorities, including the Board for Architects, to determine whether another state’s qualifications are equal to Washington’s – but the bill failed to pass.
For questions about any of these bills or other legislation under consideration, contact Kirsten.
Seattle has released a name for its Comp Plan effort due in 2024 – One Seattle Plan – and it now has a website. Required by the state to plan for how the city will accommodate growth over the next two decades, the Comp Plan will address crucial questions around how we distribute opportunity, what our neighborhoods should look like, and what changes we need to make to create a more sustainable and resilient city. You can provide feedback directly to the city via its Comp Plan Survey. You can be part of AIA’s effort by joining our Comp Plan Work Group, which meets every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 12-1pm. Or, you can sign up to receive updates about our efforts so that you can plug in wherever you like. Contact Kirsten for more info.
Seattle Tree Ordinance
Seattle is considering new rules on tree protections which are significantly more restrictive than existing requirements. The ordinance would expand the types and sizes of trees that are regulated, require more notice of tree removal, establish payment in lieu of for tree replacement, and more. More info about the proposals is available here. Most of the provisions are currently being appealed after the city issued a finding of non-significance under SEPA, but there is current legislation (CB 120207) related to tree service providers and public notice requirements around tree removal before the City Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee. A public hearing will be held on that bill on March 23 at 2pm. You may comment by calling in to the hearing or by emailing committee members directly. A vote on the bill will be scheduled for a future meeting.
AIA is seeking member feedback on all the provisions in the draft tree ordinance, as well as on how these rules should be prioritized when balancing other city priorities. We’ll use your feedback to help inform our work on these issues. Please consider submitting your comments via our Tree Ordinance Survey or contact Kirsten with feedback.
Seattle Building Performance Standards
Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) is conducting stakeholder and community engagement on creating draft legislation for new building performance standards for commercial and multifamily buildings 20,000 sq ft and larger to reduce carbon emissions and transition towards cleaner buildings. The legislation will set carbon emissions targets that would become gradually stronger over time, reaching net-zero carbon emissions buildings by 2050. OSE will present on the potential regulations and take your comments on April 5, noon-1:30pm via Zoom. Register here.
As mandated by the City Council in this year’s budget, OPCD and SDCI are working to put together a plan to evaluate the city’s Design Review program by conducting a Race and Equity Toolkit (RET) analysis of Design Review; reviewing Design Review outcomes and departures; analyzing whether the program increases housing costs; reviewing best practices from other cities; and putting together a stakeholder group to recommend program revisions. AIA is interested in hearing about your experiences with Design Review in Seattle and other cities; we’ll use your answers to help inform AIA Seattle’s position and ongoing work on the program. Please take our Design Review Survey or contact Kirsten with feedback.
Seattle Planning Commission Seeks New Member
The Seattle Planning Commission is seeking a new commissioner. The Commission advises the mayor, City Council, and city departments on citywide planning goals, policies, and plans and provides them with independent advice on land use, zoning, transportation, housing, and related issues. The Commission also stewards the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Applicants must be current residents of Seattle and be able to attend a minimum of three Commission meetings per month (currently held online), with occasional community meetings. Send a letter of interest and resume by April 1 via email to Vanessa Murdock, the Commission’s executive director.
Washington Board for Architects Position Open
The Washington State Board for Architects will have a Board Member position available starting in June 2022. The seven-member, governor-appointed board is made up of one member of the public and six registered architects who reside in Washington and have at least eight years of experience in responsible charge of architectural work. 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. four 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 to the profession and the public
- Attending national council meetings as needed
- Reviewing applications as needed
More information about this position is available here. Applications can be found via the governor’s website, here (nomination to join the board is a gubernatorial appointment), and should be submitted by April 15.
Public Comment Period Open for West Seattle and Ballard Light Rail Extension
Members of the public can comment on the Draft EIS analysis for extending light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, including providing feedback on routes and station alternatives. The survey is open until April 28. Virtual public meetings are also scheduled throughout March. More info here.
We would love to hear from you! To comment or for more information on these or any other topics, please contact: