Advocacy Update – November 2018
This month in national, state, and local advocacy: Voting is now open for the 2021 ICC; AIA Washington Council reacts to the midterm election results; Seattle hearing examiner rules in favor of MHA; and more; plus upcoming events and opportunities to get involved in state and local advocacy issues.
From AIA National: ICC Voting Open
The ICC has concluded its Public Comment Hearings for Group A of the 2021 ICC, and registered members may now vote on proposals that will directly impact the next edition of the code. The AIA Codes Advocacy Program has identified 18 key code proposals, including an expanded definition and application of tall wood construction. If you are a registered ICC Governmental Voting Member Representative, you may cast your votes at any time during the online voting period, which closes on December 7. The family of 2021 codes that will set the baseline for practice over the next decade will be determined in the following few weeks. Registered members may view all proposals here.
AIA Washington Council Reacts to Election Results
The November 6 election brought Democratic gains in the state House and Senate, although not as many as some had predicted after the primary election. In general, Democrats increased their hold on urban and suburban areas of the state (including nearly every seat in King County), while Republicans maintained their traditional hold in more rural areas of the state. With three state legislative races still undergoing a recount, these will be the Democrat-Republican margins in January if current results hold: 28-21 in the Senate and 57-41 in the House. Democrats would gain three Senate seats and seven House seats from the previous election.
AIA Washington Council’s issues before the legislature largely skew to the Democrats and these results are positive in every area except for one: for the last two years Democrats have pushed a bill sponsored by the public employees’ union to require any state agency contract over $20,000 to undergo a cost-benefit analysis with the goal of moving the work in-house. During this year’s legislation session, every Democrat voted for the bill and every Republican voted against it, and the bill failed to pass only due to a last-minute amendment to strip out architecture and engineering contracts by Sen. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way – one of the moderate King County Republicans who did not survive the election. AIA|WA will continue to push for A&E to be considered separately from the larger bill.
Other issues on AIA’s agenda include legislation to change Washington’s architect licensing act to align our state’s licensing requirements with NCARB’s national standard; efforts to address condo liability reform; legislation to increase payments related to the school construction assistance program and to lower the threshold for passing school bonds; a tax reform package that would make Washington’s taxation system more progressive; maintaining funding for affordable housing and homelessness programs; and monitoring issues related to the Growth Management Act, mass transit, and zoning.
In the wake of I-1631’s failure to pass, AIA|WA will continue to work with allies to address efforts to combat climate change. While it will be difficult politically for the legislature to pass a carbon tax (or fee) in the wake of two straight defeats by the voters, legislators have been indicating that they will try – particularly on the Senate side. Other climate-related issues we expect to work on include efforts to accelerate state energy codes; adding funding for zero net carbon building incentives (new and retrofits) and energy benchmarking; working on issues related to embodied carbon in materials; and supporting efforts to reduce the use of HFCs in refrigerants. AIA|WA expects to support non-built environment efforts including enacting a low carbon fuel standard; legislating steps to replace coal power as it comes offline (with a goal of reaching carbon-free electricity by 2045); and supporting policies to encourage the use of solar.
AIA Seattle Member Kjell Anderson Appointed to the SBCC
Kjell Anderson AIA of LMN Architects has been appointed by Governor Inslee to represent architects on the State Building Code Council (SBCC). The Council is a state agency that provides independent analysis and objective advice to the legislature and the governor’s office on state building code issues. It works to establish the minimum building, mechanical, fire, plumbing, and energy code requirements necessary to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state of Washington by reviewing, developing, and adopting the state building code. Mike Fowler AIA of Mithun serves on the Council’s Energy Code Technical Advisory Group.
MHA Lawsuit Concludes; AIA Seattle to Advocate for Council Passage
On November 21, a Seattle hearing examiner ruled that the city’s environmental review of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program was almost entirely adequate, ending a lawsuit by a coalition of community groups challenging the city’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on MHA and setting the stage for Council consideration early next year to extend MHA to parts of 27 neighborhoods citywide. The hearing examiner found that the EIS did not adequately address impacts to historical sites, something that the city can address quickly. AIA Seattle’s Board has endorsed MHA as a way to achieve greater density and more affordable housing units throughout the city. AIA Seattle will continue to advocate for passage of MHA as it undergoes Council review.
Seattle Bike Parking Regulations
The Seattle Department of Transportation is considering new Bike Parking Regulations that would add indoor bike parking requirements for multi-family buildings. AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force is working on a comment letter. Member comments are welcome, either directly to the city by contacting Gordon Clowers at SDCI or, for inclusion with AIA’s comments, to Kirsten Smith.
AIA Seattle Meets with King County Regional Housing Task Force
AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force recently met with staff from King County’s Regional Housing Task Force, which is comprised of elected officials from across the county who work together to make regional recommendations towards meeting the projected need for affordable housing for households with incomes at 80 percent or less of area median income by 2040. Emphasis is placed on strategies that will:
- support affordable homes in close proximity to jobs, transit, and key services;
- reduce the disproportional impacts of housing affordability challenges on communities of color, older adults, and others with fixed or limited-incomes, including displacement; and
- address affordability and accessibility needs of large households, individuals with mobility or behavioral health challenges, and to allow people to age in place if they desire.
The Regional Housing Task Force has developed a Five-Year Action Plan to recommend near-term strategies. Interested AIA members are encouraged to provide feedback on the plan, including which recommendations are the most important or will have the highest impact as well as which strategies might have unintended consequences. Feedback can be sent directly to your King County Councilmember or, to compile with AIA’s comments, send to Kirsten Smith.
Seattle Design Commission
A two-year licensed architect position is open on the Seattle Design Commission, beginning March 2019. The Commission advises city officials on design excellence in city-funded capital improvement projects, projects in the city right-of-way, and projects constructed with city funds. Apply by November 30. More info here.
Design Review Boards
Seattle is seeking volunteers to serve as design profession representatives on the following Design Review Boards: Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest. Board members evaluate the design of new buildings based on citywide and neighborhood-specific design guidelines. The boards review large mixed-use developments, multifamily housing, and commercial projects. Apply by December 14. More info here.
AIA Seattle Committee & Task Force Meetings
AIA Seattle members are invited to attend these policy-focused committee meetings, which occur monthly. If you are interested in participating, please contact Kirsten Smith.
Committee on Homelessness, December 11, noon – 1pm @ the Center.
Transportation Task Force, December 11, 5:30pm – 6:30pm @ the Center.
Housing Task Force, December 13, noon-1:15pm @ the Center.
City of Seattle Urban Innovations Speaker Series
Can Housing Choices Support a More Equitable Seattle?, December 4, 3:30 pm, City Hall (free).
2019 Capitol Connections
Once a year, AIA Washington Council invites all AIA members in the state to meet with our state legislators to discuss the common interests architects have that impact the practice of architecture or the community at large. The 2019 Capitol Connections will be held January 24 at the Cherberg Building in Olympia, WA. Learn more and register here.
For more information on these or any other topics, or to join a task force, please contact: