Advocacy Update – October 2021

This month in state and local advocacy: state and local energy codes continue to move away from fossil gas; Seattle's City Council renames single family zones; King County moves out of the shadows on climate; opportunities to join the Seattle Planning Commission or sign up for advocacy training; and more!


Washington’s Tax System Overhaul Committee Would Like Your Feedback
Are you fed up with Washington’s tax system? This is your opportunity to let legislators know what you’d like to see instead. The state’s Tax Structure Work Group, led by a bipartisan group of state legislators, is conducting outreach to the public for feedback on six potential scenarios to revise the state’s taxation system. The Work Group is conducting listening sessions for North and Central Puget Sound residents, including Seattle, on Wed. Oct. 27. There are two sessions to choose from, 2:30-4pm and 6:30-8pm). More info on the Town Hall is here. While the entire tax system is up for discussion, you can read more about the treatment of the B&O tax, which AIA is tracking, here.

SBCC Commercial Energy Code Proposals Move to Public Comment
This month the State Building Code Council voted to move its Energy Code Technical Advisory Group’s package of commercial energy code proposals forward for public comment. These include AIA-supported proposals to require heat pumps for heating and water heating. The comment period is not yet open; we will notify you when it is. For more information on these proposals, please contact the archtiect representative on the SBBC, Kjell Anderson.


Two Housing Bills Passed by the Seattle City Council
An update on two Seattle housing bills that we reported on previously: the City Council voted unanimously to change the name of the city’s single family zoning category to “Neighborhood Residential.” This change does not make actual changes to the existing zoning (any changes will be part of the 2024 Comp Plan Update), but it will set the stage for future action by more accurately reflecting the reality that currently exists in single family zones and pointing to a need for greater inclusivity in land use policy. The Council also voted to revise previously passed legislation that provides development bonuses for affordable housing on land owned by religious organizations. At the urging of Donald King FAIA, the Council agreed to change the target for projects to 80% AMI from 60% AMI. Black churches in particular argued that the lower AMI threshold left them unable to participate in the program because only large developers can secure the major grants and federal tax grants needed to develop them. AIA supported both bills.

King County Council Considers Climate Legislation
King County’s Council is considering several items related to climate this month:

C-PACER: two years ago AIA worked at the state level to pass authorizing legislation to allow Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy & Resilience (C-PACER) financing programs. These private loans, administered as a lien on the property by a county, provide funding for building owners to perform deep energy and resilience-related retrofits. Importantly, these liens stay with the building when sold and not the owner, so the loans do not show up on an owner’s books. Each Washington county must authorize its own C-PACER program, and King County’s will provide critical financing for building improvements.

Green Building Ordinance Update: the King County Council is considering legislation to update the County’s 2013 Green Building Ordinance per its Strategic Climate Action Plan. The ordinance applies to King County-owned or -financed capital projects. The update places greater emphasis on equity and social justice in sustainable development; affirms the County’s carbon neutrality goals; and promotes green building in the private sector. More info here.

Building Code Update – Energy: King County has developed proposed updates to its building code to include stronger energy provisions based on Seattle’s recent energy code update. The changes are for new commercial or multifamily (4 stories or higher) buildings in unincorporated areas. Key improvements include restricting electric resistance and disallowing fossil fuel heating; requiring heat pump water heating; requiring 10% higher efficiency for lighting and windows; and eliminating substandard building envelopes.

The C-PACER and Green Building ordinances will be up for consideration in committee on Oct. 27. The Building Code update will likely be considered longer-term. If you are interested in reaching out to your King County Councilmember on any of these issues, please let Kirsten know.

Seattle Dept. of Construction and Inspections Updates
DADU Addresses: SDCI is now establishing separate, regular addresses and building numbers for detached accessory dwelling units. More info

Plan Review: SDCI announced that it will implement a new plan review process using the Bluebeam software application. The department plans to stop sending standard letter-based corrections for plan reviews and begin providing marked-up documents created with Bluebeam.


AIA Seattle Housing Policy Statement
AIA’s Housing Task Force and Public Policy Board have been updating our 2019 Housing Policy Statement. Once approved by the Board of Directors, this statement will guide our work on local and regional housing policy and policy-oriented programming. We are looking for member feedback on the draft statement. You may review the document here; please send your comments to Kirsten.

Seattle Design Commission Seeks an Architect Member
The Seattle Design Commission is looking for an architect member. The Commission reviews city-funded capital projects and projects that seek long-term or permanent use of a right of way. Commissioners typically serve 15 hours a month in meetings that occur during the day. Commissioners receive a small stipend for their time. For more information, contact Michael Jenkins, Executive Director of The Seattle Design Commission,

AIA|WA Advocacy Training
AIA Washington Council’s free Advocacy in Action series aims to turn you into an architect advocate on any issue that is important to you. It is designed for emerging professionals and students, but everyone is welcome. In this 3-part webinar (Nov. 4, 11, 18 | 12-1pm), you will discover how to navigate policy discussions in Olympia and elsewhere, build relationships with your elected representatives, and participate in AIA’s policy efforts. LU credits are provided.

Associates: Apply to join AIA National’s Associates Committee
AIA Washington Council is seeking candidates for appointment to serve as Washington’s State Representative to the AIA National Associates Committee (NAC) for a 2-year term. The NAC represents associates, in both traditional and non-traditional paths, by providing information and leadership to AIA components. The NAC representative will be involved in addressing local and national issues and will help to shape and dictate new policy. The appointed representative will also become an AIA|WA Board Associate and ex-officio member of the AIA|WA Board of Directors for the duration of their NAC term. Applications are due November 30, 2021. More information, including qualifications and how to apply, is available here.


AIA’s Public Policy Board Presents: Seattle Housing Policy Update
Seattle needs more housing, and fast. What is on the city’s short- and long-term housing agenda as we enter this pivotal period in our city? Join us for a review of current initiatives and a discussion of what’s missing and how AIA Seattle can help drive the agenda. Oct. 26 @ noon. More info.

AIA Seattle Committee Meetings
AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force meets monthly via Zoom on the second Thursday of each month at noon. All are welcome. For info on how to access the meeting, contact Kirsten.

Bellevue City Council Candidates Forum
Bellevue residents: the Housing Development Consortium (AIA is a member) is hosting an Affordable Housing Forum with Bellevue city council candidates on October 25, 3-4 pm.

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 |