Advocacy Update – March 2024

Seattle News

Draft Comprehensive Plan Released

After months of anticipation, the draft One Seattle Comprehensive Plan has finally arrived! This Comprehensive Plan update for Seattle marks a critical milestone in shaping the city’s future growth over the next 20 years, addressing key questions around equitable opportunity, neighborhood design, and sustainability. According to the Mayor’s office and the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan comprises Four Key Moves:

  • Housing and Affordability: Expand housing opportunities across the city
  • Equity and Opportunity: Promote a more equitable Seattle as we grow
  • Community and Neighborhoods: Focus growth and investment in walkable communities
  • Climate and Sustainability: Meet  challenges of climate change for a resilient future

The release date of March 5th marked the beginning of a two-month (60-day) public engagement period. AIA Seattle’s Comp Plan Work Group has been diligently preparing for the Plan’s release by creating a detailed framework for their work and response during the public comment period. The group looks forward to engaging with the membership over the next two months to inform their response.

Urban Design Forum to Host Charrette to Guide City’s Growth

As part of this crucial endeavor, Urban Design Forum will host a charrette to support the Comp Plan Work Group in activating member engagement. This exciting opportunity will allow participants to imagine the possibilities and inform how the group should respond during the public comment period.

  • When: April 2nd, 4:00-6:15 PM
  • Where: Center for Architecture and Design, 1010 Western Ave
  • More information will follow

State News

2024 Legislative Session Wraps: AIA Washington Celebrates Wins on Licensure, Sustainability, Housing Affordability

The 2024 Washington State legislative session has been a huge success for AIAWA and its advocacy priorities. Despite being a short 60-day sprint, this fast-paced session saw the passage of several bills that AIAWA championed tirelessly. We extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed their time, expertise, and unwavering support to AIAWA’s legislative agenda this year.

A critical achievement is the passage of HB 1880, which eliminates the rolling clock in state statute for licensure. After significant efforts by AIAWA, this bill secured unanimous support from both legislative chambers and now awaits Governor Inslee’s signature. The passage of this bill this session will break down barriers, provide flexibility, and ensure a more inclusive path to licensure. The removal of the rolling clock will take effect July 1, 2024.

Another milestone is the passage of HB 1282, the Buy Clean and Buy Fair legislation, promoting sustainable and ethical construction practices. This bill mandates transparency and accountability for building materials used in major state-funded projects by requiring firms to report Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), Health Product Declarations, working conditions, and other data. It also directs the Department of Commerce to develop a public database for this information and establishes the “Buy Clean Buy Fair” workgroup.

Additionally, AIAWA secured an important budget proviso in the Operating Budget, allocating $250,000 to the State Building Code Council to study embodied carbon language in other jurisdictions’ building codes and provide recommendations for potential adoption by December 1, 2024.

While the Navigator (HB 1391) did not advance, AIAWA’s partners at Shift Zero secured $3.5 million in the Operating Budget to facilitate access to energy assistance programs, including incentives, audits, and rebates for retrofitting homes and small businesses. However, this funding is contingent on the Climate Commitment Act not being repealed by Initiative Measure No. 2117.

This session, we saw multiple bills seeking to address the acute need for more affordable housing options, and the passage of HB 2071 advances that goal. It directs the State Building Code Council to convene technical advisory groups and make recommendations to apply the International Residential Code (IRC) to multiplex housing of up to six units. Additionally, it calls for revisions to the International Building Code (IBC) to allow unit sizes smaller than current efficiency dwelling unit requirements. The bill also requires the development of an illustrative standard plan set that meets or exceeds all energy code regulations for residential housing subject to the IRC. This optional plan set can be used by local governments and builders as a prescriptive pathway for energy code compliance.

Furthermore, the passage of HB 1998 aims to increase affordable co-living housing choices by requiring cities and counties to allow this type of development, featuring individually rented sleeping units with shared kitchen facilities within urban areas zoned for multifamily or mixed-use. Cities and counties cannot impose overly restrictive regulations related to unit sizes, parking requirements near transit, density calculations, and other development standards.

The 2024 legislative session has truly been one for the books – a huge success that AIAWA and all of you advocating alongside us should take immense pride in. It was because of each of you that we achieved wins on so many fronts crucial to our profession and communities.

We’d love to hear from you! For more information on advocacy topics, please contact:

Samantha Morrow | Senior Manager of Policy & Advocacy, AIA Washington Council & AIA Seattle