Advocacy Update – May 2018

This month in advocacy: AIA Seattle endorses Washington Initiative 1631, Mayor Jenny Durkan releases a Climate Action Plan for Seattle, and Seattle City Council passes a resolution to create a Waterfront Local Improvement District (LID). Read on to learn about current State and local advocacy news and how you can get involved, including opportunities to comment on the proposed Waterfront Local Improvement District, Seattle's newly released ADU Draft EIS, the Seattle Center Arena Renovation Draft EIS, and more.


AIA Seattle Endorses I-1631

AIA Seattle’s Board of Directors has endorsed Washington Initiative 1631, the Protect Washington Act, which would establish a carbon fee to reduce incentives for fossil fuel use, generate funds to invest in renewable resources and promote energy efficiency. From the Board’s endorsement:

AIA Seattle has a history of supporting carbon pricing mechanisms as an essential method of fighting climate change. We support this effort to make Washington the first state in our country to impose a carbon fee as a necessary first step in what we hope will ultimately be a more robust scheme to combat climate change. Should the initiative pass, we will work with state officials to ensure that built environment projects are prominent among those supported by revenues generated by the initiative. We will also advocate for increases in the fee to make it a more powerful price signal that will transform our industry and incentivize high performance building.

Signatures Needed: I-1631 proponents are currently working to collect 260,000 registered voter signatures across the state, which much be turned in by July 6. If you are interested in signing the petition, copies are available at the Center for Architecture and Design. Staff are also available to bring signature sheets to interested offices. Please contact Kirsten Smith for more information.

AIA Washington Council Spring Advocacy Conference

June 13, 10am – 5pm @ Hotel 1000 | 5 LU/HSW
AIA Washington Council’s 2nd annual Spring Advocacy Conference will be held on June 13. Participants will review the recently-concluded legislative session, participate in policy committee discussions and planning for the 2019 session, and help plan outreach to their state legislators. The conference runs from 10am – 5pm, but participants are welcome to come for any part that is applicable to them. More info and registration here. For more information about the schedule, contact Executive Director Jeffrey Hamlett.

Washington State Women’s Commission seeks members

The newly-established Washington State Women’s Commission is now accepting applications from individuals interested in working to address problems that contribute to inequality for women in the workplace and society. The commission will also make regular recommendations to the Legislature and the Governor. The commission will have 13 members: four state lawmakers and nine members appointed by the governor consisting of a balanced and diverse distribution of ethnic, geographic, gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status and occupational representation.


Durkan Issues Climate Report

Mayor Jenny Durkan released a Climate Action Plan for Seattle that outlines recent climate actions taken by the city and identifies near-term priorities. These include:


  • Improving mobility through pricing
  • Electric vehicle readiness ordinance for new construction
  • Charging station network map and strategy
  • Ride share and taxi fleet electrification
  • Green Fleet Action Plan update

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment

  • Assess the GHG emissions impact of city decisions


  • Adopt a Washington State tiered residential energy code
  • Establish new 2030 Challenge pilot for 20 upgraded, high performing projects by 2025
  • Incentive-driven 2030 performance standards for commercial and multifamily buildings
  • Develop City Light Whole Building Pay for Performance (P4P) programs
  • Improve municipal building energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions by 2025
  • Oil to heat pump conversion

AIA Seattle is supportive of, and active on, many of these proposals. Read our February letter to Mayor Durkan on climate issues here.

Waterfront Local Improvement District

This week the Seattle City Council passed a resolution officially declaring its intent to create a Waterfront Local Improvement District (LID) that would raise $200 million from a property tax assessment (out of a total $688 million for the project). The resolution passed 8-0 vote, with Council member Sally Bagshaw recusing herself as required by ethics rules (she owns a condo in the proposed LID area). The resolution passes the issue on to a Hearing Examiner for a series of public hearings, after which the Hearing Examiner will deliver a report on his findings by September 4. Once the Council receives that report, it can begin its deliberations on an ordinance establishing the LID; the Council is expected to complete that process in early 2019.

AIA Seattle has been a long-time, vocal advocate for making our waterfront a great civic space for all citizens. While we have not yet taken a position on the LID proposal, in general we have supported appropriate funding to realize the vision of a waterfront for all. We will be reviewing the LID resolution and preparing comments for upcoming public hearings. If you would like to provide your thoughts in advance of AIA Seattle’s review process, please email Kirsten Smith.

Seattle Design Review Rule for Early Community Outreach

The City of Seattle published a new Director’s Rule requiring Early Community Outreach as part of the Design Review process for all projects, beginning July 1. The Rule is part of the city’s Design Review reforms that the Council adopted last year and it provides many new details on specific requirements for Early Community Outreach. The new Rule will add significant responsibility to the applicant for all projects going through Design Review in Seattle. AIA Seattle issued comments to the city this week (the comment period closed on May 21); our comment letter may be viewed here.

ADU Draft EIS released

Comments Accepted through June 25
Open House: May 31, 5:30pm | Public Hearing 6:30pm @ Seattle City Hall
On May 10, the Seattle City Council issued a Draft EIS that describes potential environmental impacts of the proposed Land Use Code changes related to Accessory Dwelling Unites (ADUs). The proposal involves Land Use Code changes that would allow two ADUs on one lot, modify existing off-street parking and owner-occupancy requirements, change development standards that regulate the size and location of detached ADUs, and regulate the maximum size of single-family dwellings. The city is collecting comments on the Draft EIS through June 25. Comments may be submitted online or via email to

The city will hold an open house and hearing on the Draft EIS on Thursday, May 31 at Seattle City Hall in the Bertha Knight Landes room at 5:30 (open house) and 6:30 pm (public hearing). AIA Seattle will be issuing comments as well. If you’d like your comments to be considered as part of AIA Seattle’s review of the Draft EIS, please email Kirsten Smith. The final EIS is expected by early fall 2018, at which time the Council will vote on the proposed legislation.

Lid I-5 idea receives funding for a city feasibility study

As part of its approval of the Washington State Convention Center expansion project’s community benefit agreements with the project developer, the Seattle City Council agreed to initiate the feasibility study for lidding the I-5 freeway through downtown. The city’s Office of Planning and Community Development will receive $1.5 million in funding to manage the project, which will involve an interdepartmental team of city staff and an outside consultant team. The study will focus on physical conditions, economic and finance models and urban design and social opportunities related to the proposed lid.

The Central Hills Triangle Collaborative created teams of design professionals and community members to reimagine what I-5 would be if it were covered over and contained open space, commercial use and housing. The organization’s 60% Collab event will be held on Tuesday, June 5; see the “Events” section below for more info.

MHA Council Meetings

As part of AIA Seattle’s outreach to Seattle City Councilmembers on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, members of AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force have met with two city councilmembers and are scheduling additional meetings to offer feedback on how architects are seeing MHA work in the areas where it is currently implemented. In particular, we are emphasizing to councilmembers our support for the goals of MHA but also our concerns that the program as currently implemented may be suppressing housing development, not encouraging it.


Final MHA City Council hearing – District 1 (West Seattle)

June 5, 6pm @ Chief Sealth High School
The Seattle City Council continues to hold public hearings on the implementation of MHA citywide. The proposal is part of HALA, and aims to rezone urban villages to increase density and expand housing choices. MHA will require new development to include affordable homes or contribute to a city fund for affordable housing. Read more about MHA and HALA here.

AIA Seattle’s Committee on Homelessness is organizing groups of members to provide testimony in support of MHA at the hearings. AIA group members will get a free t-shirt, receive help with logistical info and testimony tips, and have the opportunity to testify (or stand in solidarity) with the group. For more info, contact Megan Altendorf AIA. The final hearing is:

District 1 (West Seattle): Tuesday, June 5, pm at Chief Sealth High School, 2600 SW Thistle S.

Members can also provide comments by emailing their Councilmember directly. See AIA Seattle’s HALA Endorsement for more information.

Seattle Center Arena Renovation Draft EIS

The City of Seattle is currently collecting comments on the Seattle Center Arena Renovation Project Draft EIS. Comments are due by June 7.

Search for a new SDOT Director

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a national search for new head of the Seattle Department of Transportation. Interim SDOT Director Goran Sparrman will serve until August. Durkan’s office is asking for public input on a new SDOT Director and department priorities; those interested can fill out the survey here.


Carbon fee initiative info session

June 1, noon @ the Center
AIA Seattle has endorsed I-1631, the carbon fee ballot initiative currently gathering signatures for the November ballot. Shift Zero is hosting a lunch and learn on I-1631, the carbon fee initiative currently out for signatures. The initiative would impose a carbon fee on large emitters and use those funds to invest in clean energy and solutions to address the climate crisis—including carbon neutral buildings. Michael Breish from the Northwest Energy Coalition will present. RSVP here.

Vanguard Conference

September 12-15, New Orleans, LA
Applications due May 31
Next City’s Vanguard Conference welcomes entrepreneurs, community developers, activists, artists, designers, urban planners and sustainability experts—anyone committed to improving cities. The conference is free, but you must apply by May 31 to attend. The application process is competitive and Next City is only able to select 40 leaders to become Vanguards.

Lidding I-5 Designs

June 5, 6pm @ the Summit
The Central Hills Triangle Collaborative will look at open space, commercial and housing designs for lidding I-5 through downtown at its 60% Collab event.

AIA Seattle Committee & Task Force Meetings

Committee on Homelessness. Tuesday, June 12, noon – 1pm @ the Center.

Housing Task Force. Thursday, June 14 from 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 & Advocacy
AIA Washington Council & AIA Seattle
206-448-4938 x401 |

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