Advocacy Update – September 2021

This month in state and local advocacy: getting serious about replacing the B&O; renaming single family zones; proposed Design Review changes; AIA's Housing Policy Statement; Seattle Budget School, and more!


Washington’s Tax System Overhaul Under Discussion
Washington has a multi-year Tax Structure Work Group led by a bipartisan group of legislators and charged with researching, evaluating, and conducting public outreach around developing a new state taxation system that is not the most regressive in the nation. (Legislation is not expected to be considered until 2023.) AIA has been following this process closely with respect to the B&O. The Work Group has now released actual tax system overhaul scenarios with varying combinations of taxes.  Two of these scenarios would leave the B&O unchanged; four would replace it with a new tax or combination of taxes. More info on the scenarios is here.

AIA member input is needed. Getting the tax right from the beginning will be critical for architecture firms. Please consider providing input in one or both of the following ways:

  • Send AIA|WA your initial thoughts on the alternative taxes by the Work Group. Although we do not yet have much information on each proposal, your initial thoughts will be helpful in guiding AIA’s path forward.
  • AIA Task Force: AIA is putting together a workgroup of architects and firms willing to review the tax proposals more closely and identify a preferred alternative(s) by architects. If you or your firm is interested in participating, please contact Kirsten.
  • The state’s Tax Structure Work Group is conducting listening sessions on its proposed scenarios across the state – and input from architects is critical. Consider taking part in one of the 90-minute sessions.

State Contractor COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
A reminder that all contractors working onsite at projects for state agencies, medical facilities, or in educational settings must provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status per Gov. Inslee’s vaccine mandate by Oct. 18. More info is available from AIA Washington Council here.


Legislation to Rename Seattle’s Single Family Zones Moves Through Council
Legislation to rename Seattle’s single family zoning category from “Single Family” to “Neighborhood Residential” will be voted on at a Sept. 24th City Council Land Use & Neighborhoods Committee meeting. This legislation 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. Please consider emailing your councilmember in support: more info here.

Seattle City Council Considers Revised Legislation for Affordable Housing on Land Owned by Religious Organizations  
In July, the City Council passed and Mayor Jenny Durkan signed legislation to allow religious institutions to access additional development capacity when they redevelop their properties for long-term rent- and income-restricted affordable housing. Donald King FAIA and the UW’s Renée Chang FAIA publicly argued that this change eliminated the ability of the Black churches that are working with the Nehemiah Initiative to utilize the program because projects at 60% AMI are so financially perilous that only large developers can secure the major grants and federal tax grants to develop them. Thanks to strong outreach by Donald and his coalition, the Council is taking the unprecedented step of considering new legislation to return to the original policy of 80% AMI. That legislation is up for a vote by the full Council on Monday, Sept. 27. Please consider emailing your councilmember in support: more info here.

AIA Seattle Coalition Releases Design Review Recommendations
AIA Seattle is participating in a coalition working to identify recommendations for reforming Seattle’s Design Review process. The list, containing a range of administrative and legislative changes, was recently released to the public. If you have comments, please let Kirsten know.

2020 ADU Production Report Released
Seattle’s Office of Planning & Community Development and Department of Construction & Inspections released a report on the first year of ADU production under new rules passed in 2019. The city issued permits for 237 AADUs and 276 DADUs in 2020, an increase of 53% and 112%, respectively, over units permitted in 2019. AIA would like to know what trends our members are seeing in terms of ADU design, permitting, and construction. Please send any comments to Kirsten.


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 AIA’s 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 Public Schools Clean Energy Task Force
In February, AIA Seattle supported a Seattle Public Schools Board resolution on transitioning the district away from fossil fuels, which passed. Now, the District is organizing the Superintendent’s Clean Energy Task Force to help chart a path to: 1) transition the district away from fossil fuel use for operations by 2040; and 2) transition to 100% carbon-free renewable energy. If you are interested in helping to move Seattle Schools forward on clean energy, apply to join the Task Force by Oct. 8. More info here.

Seattle Budget School
Seattle’s annual budget process kicks off on Sept. 29, with the mayor and councilmembers identifying and negotiating priorities for the coming year. You can learn more about the budget process and how citizens can have an impact from Omari Salisbury of Converge and Kevin Schofield of Seattle City Council Insight via their YouTube series. Episode 1 – What is the Budget? and Episode 2 – Budget and the Law are available now. Look for more episodes soon.


Check out AIA Seattle member David Mead’s video for the AIA Film Challenge. It’s time to MAKE IT ZERO!


Climate Advocacy Action – King County Energy Code
Climate Advocacy Action is back to provide support for local energy codes aimed at getting fossil fuels out of buildings. The 2021 edition will focus on King County’s effort to update its energy code for commercial and large multifamily buildings. King County’s changes will be similar to but slightly different than the Seattle Energy Code update that was the subject of last year’s Climate Advocacy Week. We’re looking for AIA members who live in King County and are willing to join a group meeting with their King County Councilmember. We’ll provide background info, talking points, and a group prep session. We’ll also be hosting a webinar with King County sustainability staff for those who want to learn more about the process.

If you don’t know who your King Council Councilmember is, this is a great way to find out!

  • Climate Advocacy Action Webinar: Oct. 12 @ noon
  • King County Councilmember meetings: October-November
  • More info or RSVP 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.

2021 Seattle Elections: Candidate Forums

Housing Development Consortium: Affordable Housing
AIA Seattle members are invited to attend the Housing Development Consortium’s Seattle Candidate Forum on Affordable Housing on Sept. 28th at 4pm. This forum will cover the mayoral race as well as Council positions 8 and 9. More info and RSVP here.

Seattle Times + We Are In: The 2021 Homelessness Debates
Seattle mayoral candidates Bruce Harrell and M. Lorena González will engage in a 1-hour debate starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29. Candidates running for Metropolitan King County Council District 3, Seattle City Attorney and Seattle City Council position 9. Thursday, Sept. 30 @ 5:30 pm. Register here.

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 |