Advocacy Update – September 2019

This month in state and local advocacy: local, state, and national action on climate; AIA's policy statement on homelessness; local transportation initiatives; your chance to "Taco-bout Justice" and more!


AIA Makes Big Move on Climate
This month AIA National launched an initiative to drive climate action within the architecture profession. As part of this effort, AIA called on architects around the world to support humanity’s collective call to climate action through a commitment to sustainable and resilient design. The Institute issued a statement, Where We Stand: Climate Action, detailing its initial path forward to support architects in making progress towards achieving net-zero emissions in the built environment by 2050.

AIA National’s immediate past president, Carl Elefante FAIA, testified on this topic at a Sept. 20 hearing of the U.S. House of Representative’s Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy. The hearing was on Building a 100 Percent Clean Economy: Solutions for the U.S. Building Sector. Carl spoke in support of achieving net-zero emissions in the built environment by 2050 and called for a “long-term commitment from every aspect of our society to incorporate these principles into the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the nation’s buildings.” You can watch the recorded hearing and/or read Carl’s testimony here.

AIA Washington Council and AIA Seattle both work on climate initiatives related to net-zero emissions in the built environment. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Kirsten.


AIA|WA Engages Clean Buildings Rulemaking
AIA Washington Council is participating in the Washington Dept. of Commerce’s rulemaking process for the Clean Buildings legislation (HB 1257) passed this spring by the State Legislature. The legislation directs Commerce to establish building performance standards categorized by building type for large commercial buildings (greater than 50,000 GSF). These building owners are required to undergo energy audits and, if below the standard, identify a path towards compliance or a set of cost-effective retrofit strategies. The legislation does not say how this will be done (although it does point to the ASHRAE 100 standard as a starting point for setting EUI targets); it asks the Department of Commerce to establish standard performance measures and determine a program of requiring building owners to meet it. To ease the burden on building owners, energy efficiency upgrades will not be required unless the investment will pay for itself in decreased utility spending. Additionally, the bill allocates $75 million in incentives to support up front financial investments for buildings that require major capital improvements. If you are interested in joining AIA’s efforts to help impact this process, or if you would like additional information, let Kirsten know.


AIA Seattle Homelessness Policy Statement
AIA’s Committee on Homelessness has developed a policy statement outlining the chapter’s advocacy goals, key messages, and proposed actions related to homelessness policy issues. Once finalized by the Board of Directors, a policy statement guides AIA’s ongoing policy efforts the issue. AIA’s Public Policy Board and Board of Directors have approved the homelessness policy statement and we are now seeking member input. Please review the statement here and send any comments to Kirsten.

MASS Transportation Package Supported by AIA
A coalition known as MASS – Move all Seattle Sustainably – submitted a package of transportation priorities to the City Council aimed at making “walking, rolling, biking, and using transit in Seattle safer and more accessible.” AIA’s Transportation Task Force and its Public Policy Board endorsed these priorities (although we’d like a greater focus on pedestrians and wayfinding) and, in particular, the three items considered by Council in August and September:

  • Bicycle Safety Ordinance: requires that SDOT, when doing major road work, make any improvements listed in the Bicycle Master Plan at the same time. If SDOT doesn’t follow the Bicycle Master Plan, it must explain to the City Council and the public why this isn’t possible.
  • Request More Funding for Bicycle Implementation Plan: a resolution requesting that unfunded projects in the Bicycle Implementation Plan be funded, including all South Seattle projects (currently only funded for study) and two-way bike lanes on 4th Ave. downtown.
  • Off-Sidewalk Bike and Scooter Parking: a resolution requesting that, in 2020, SDOT double the number of planned off-sidewalk bike and scooter parking spaces to ensure pedestrian access on sidewalks and continue to rebalance the allocation of street space for people, rather than just for cars.

All three were unanimously approved by the full Council on Sept. 3. Mary Wylie AIA, co-chair of the Transportation Task Force, spoke in favor of these proposals at the Council meeting.

Moving forward, the City Council’s Sustainability & Transportation Committee is currently reviewing additional MASS proposals, including:

  • A resolution requesting that SDOT develop policy options for the maintenance of existing sidewalks, create a public education program on snow and ice removal responsibilities, and develop a program to enforce snow and ice removal requirements by private property owners.
  • A resolution requesting that SDOT develop a traffic signals policy.
  • Free ORCA passes for all transit riders.

Climate Legislation Moves Through Council
The Seattle City Council acted on legislation related to climate change, including the tax on heating oil and the Seattle Green New Deal reported on last month. The full Council previously passed a resolution outlining goals for the Green New Deal and, on Sept. 16, passed an ordinance establishing an Oversight Board to recommend policies, projects, and programs based on the goals outlined in the resolution. The full City Council passed the legislation to tax heating oil and help low-income households convert to electricity on Sept. 23. In addition, the Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee has been holding hearings on legislation to prohibit new gas hook-ups in all new buildings permitted after July 1, 2020. AIA Seattle’s Public Policy Board approved support for all of these initiatives with clarification that we would like to see the Green New Deal goals prioritized according to how much each will reduce carbon emissions. Individuals interested in joining the Seattle for a Green New Deal effort can find more info here.

AIA Supports SEPA Reform
AIA joined environmental groups and housing activists to support City Council legislation that would amend the city’s State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) provisions to exempt certain appeals of completed environmental impact statements in accordance with new state law. The state legislation, aimed at promoting denser zoning in cities, allows municipalities to prohibit legal appeals under SEPA when they enact any of the bill’s optional major land-use changes, such as upzoning areas around transit stations and allowing duplexes, triplexes, and courtyard apartments on lots previously reserved for single-family houses. These changes would still need to undergo environmental review but the reviews would no longer be subject to appeal. The legislation would also limit the number of days allowed for remaining SEPA appeals. The full Council will vote on this legislation on Oct. 7. AIA Seattle sent a letter to Councilmembers in support of the legislation. In addition, Matt Hutchins AIA and Dylan Glosecki AIA testified in support of the legislation at Sustainability and Transportation Committee hearings.

Mayor Durkan Releases 2020 Proposed Budget
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has released her proposed budget for 2020, the second year of Seattle’s two-year budget biennium. Over the next two months, the City Council will review the Mayor’s proposed budget, with final adoption expected Nov. 25. More information about details in the budget can be found here. If you’d like to comment on any of the budget proposals, you may share your comments directly with Mayor Durkan, councilmembers, or AIA. Look for the city’s public input sessions over the next two months as well.


Housing Choices Survey
Seattle’s Housing Choices initiative aims to create more market-rate housing options, in more places, for more people. Read the Office of Planning and Community Development’s Background Report and take the city’s Housing Choices survey, which will help inform near-term actions and longer-term recommendations. One survey question specifically asks if you are an architect.

King County Strategic Climate Action Plan Workshops
King County is updating its 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan – the five-year blueprint for climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for climate change, and work with partners and communities on climate. The County is looking for public input at three workshops in October, where officials will share highlights of recent climate progress and challenges, initial ideas for what more the County might do, and get your input on priorities and solutions. Events include:

  • Wednesday, October 2nd, 6- 8 pm, Bellevue College (East King County)
  • Saturday, October 12th, 10 am – 12 pm, University of Washington (North & Central King County)
  • Wednesday, October 16th, 6-8 pm, Highline College (South King County)

To RSVP and for more information about the events and locations, click here.

Fall Quarter of Seattle’s People’s Academy for Community Engagement Accepting Applications
Learn civic leadership and navigating local government at the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE). Developed for the next wave of community leaders, PACE is taking applications for its fall quarter classes (Oct. 12 to Nov. 9). Participants will learn hands-on strategies for community organizing, accessing government, and inclusive engagement from experts in the field. More info here.



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: Oct. 8, 5:30-6:30. Pub planning session @ Fadó (1st & Columbia)
  • Housing Task Force Monthly Meeting: Oct. 10, noon-1:15 pm @ CFAD

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

Taco-bout Justice + Tour the Justice BusOct. 10, Seattle
The Committee on Homelessness and the Benefits Law Center invite you to join a taco-fueled happy hour to learn about the Justice Bus, a mobile public benefits legal center that meets clients wherever they are at.

City of Seattle DADU Fair – Oct. 19, 2-5 pm, Southside Commons, Columbia City

Northwest Green Building Slam and Summit – Oct. 25-26, Seattle
Learn from leading thinkers and innovators in the ecobuilding community. A lineup of fantastic speakers will inspire you for the year ahead.

AIA Washington Council Advocacy Summit – Oct. 24, Seattle
AIA|WA’s Advocacy Summit is your chance to help shape architects’ agenda for the 2020 state legislative session. The Summit will kick off with a deep dive 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. We expect to have CE credits available for this event.

Lid I-5 Open House & Panel Discussion – Oct. 28, Town Hall Seattle
The event will include presentations from a number of renowned public space and landscape experts from across the nation.

Energy Leadership Summit – Nov 19, Seattle
The Energy Leadership Summit is the region’s must-attend clean energy event. Presented jointly by the CleanTech Alliance and the Northwest Environmental Business Council, this unique event connects policy with practice and addresses the industry’s current challenges and future opportunities. This year’s summit will explore the nexus of energy, climate change, and the region’s economy with more than 400 industry leaders and policymakers from across the Northwest.


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 |