Advocacy Update – October 2019

This month in state and local advocacy: AIA|WA's Advocacy Summit, pre-approved plans for DADUs, AIA Seattle's Housing Policy Statement, Seattle's budget process, and more.


ICC vote on AIA’s Zero Code Renewable Energy Appendix
AIA National submitted a Zero Code Renewable Energy Appendix to become part of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). If approved by the International Code Council (ICC) voting members in Las Vegas on October 30 and via online vote in late November, local jurisdictions would be allowed to voluntarily adopt a zero-net-carbon building code. This Appendix to the model energy code allows for a multiple-pathway approach to achieve better energy efficiency and carbon reduction outcomes for the built environment. It provides jurisdictions with a powerful tool to accelerate the transition to a 100% clean building design as part of their codes.

AIA is asking its members who are ICC voting members to vote to add the Appendix to the IECC. AIA members are also asked to contact their state and local government energy, sustainability, and code officials to ask them to vote for approval of the Appendix.


Join Colleagues from Across the State at AIA|WA’s Annual Advocacy Summit
AIA Washington Council will hold its annual Advocacy Summit on Oct. 24th in Seattle from 1-5 pm. This is your chance to help shape architects’ agenda for the 2020 state legislative session and learn how to shape policy issues impacting your work. The Summit will kick off with a deep dive panel on homelessness policy, design strategies, and the legislative response.  Following this session, attendees will engage with one or more policy committees to review agendas for 2020 and specific policies AIA|WA will want to address. A reception will follow the event. CE credits are available for both sessions.


Pre-approved Plans for DADUs
Seattle has released its initial plan for pre-approved DADUs, one of Mayor Durkan’s top housing priorities. You may find the summary document here and SDCI’s blog about the program here. SDCI has launched a survey to help guide its effort to select designs for pre-approved plans; we encourage architects to offer input via the survey or via email directly to SDCI at Here is SDCI’s overview of its process:

To simplify and streamline permitting, the city is developing pre-approved DADU construction plans that offer a faster, easier, and more predictable design and permitting process. Here’s how it works:

      • Our public survey informs design principles and criteria we will use to select plans.
      • We invite designers and builders to submit DADU designs.
      • Permitting staff pre-approve 6-10 plans chosen based on selection criteria.
      • Plans become available for homeowners, who can connect with the designer to create a site plan.

Homeowners choosing a pre-approved DADU plan get a shorter permit review process and a reduced permit fee. Plans selected for pre-approval will be featured in an online gallery on the City’s ADU website.

AIA Seattle will be submitting a letter to the city with recommendations on how to improve this program based on its goals of generating more ADUs more affordably. If you have comments for us to consider, please contact Kirsten.

AIA Seattle Housing Policy Statement Under Review
AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force and its Public Policy Board are updating the chapter’s Housing Policy Statement to reflect new priorities now that MHA and ADU legislation have passed. We welcome member comments and suggestions. You may review the current draft here.

Imagine Greater Downtown Vision Released
Seattle issued its Vision Framework for Imagine Greater Downtown, a plan to develop active streets and inviting public spaces in downtown Seattle’s ten neighborhoods. The Vision Framework is the result of input from residents and staff across coordinating agencies. You may view the city’s summary here and the full report here. In 2018-19, AIA Seattle worked with OPCD staff to provide input on the plan.

Seattle Approves SEPA Changes
The Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to approve legislation to streamline the city’s State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) appeals process. Under the legislation, Seattle will until at least 2021 ban SEPA appeals of certain land-use policies, such as upzoning around transit stations and allowing duplexes and triplexes on blocks now reserved for single-family houses. These policies will still need to undergo environmental review. The mayor is expected to sign the legislation. The change was made possible by state legislation passed earlier this year aimed at increasing residential building capacity and housing affordability. AIA Seattle wrote a letter to Councilmembers in support.

Feedback Sought on Seattle’s 2020 Proposed Budget
Seattle’s City Council is currently engaged in reviewing Mayor Durkan’s proposed 2020 budget. Under state law, the Council must consider and adopt a budget by December 2 (30 days before the beginning of the fiscal year). More information about the budget and the Council’s considerations, including how to contact Councilmembers to share your feedback, may be found here.


Seattle Design Commission Seeks Urban Designer
The Seattle Design Commission is now recruiting for an urban designer to serve a two-year term beginning in March 2020. CV and letters of interest are due by December 2. Click here for more info on how to be considered. The Seattle Design Commission advises the Mayor, Council, and city officials on design excellence in city-funded capital improvement projects, projects in the right-of-way, and projects constructed with city funds.


AIA Seattle Committee Meetings
AIA Seattle members and others are invited to attend these policy-focused committee meetings, which occur monthly:

  •  Transportation Task Force Monthly Meeting: Nov. 12, 5:30-6:30 @ CFAD
  •  Housing Task Force Monthly Meeting: Nov. 14, noon-1:15 pm @ CFAD

Let Kirsten know if you’d like to be added to the email list for either task force.

WSDOT Construction & Design Contractor Open House – Oct. 22, Seattle
WSDOT is hosting an open house for prime contractors, subcontractors and design consultants interested in learning more about the major transportation projects in the greater Seattle area.

Northwest Green Building Slam + Summit – Oct. 25-26, Seattle

Lid I-5 Open House & Panel Discussion – Oct. 28, Town Hall Seattle

Shift Zero Fall Meeting – Nov. 7, 9:00-12:00. Smart Buildings Center, Pacific Tower
All AIA members are welcome.

Build Small Live Large Summit – Nov. 7-8, Portland
Innovators share what’s working in their cities and promote the best strategies to regulate, design, build, and finance smaller homes and “missing middle” housing options.

Energy Leadership Summit – Nov 19, Seattle


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 |