Advocacy Update - January 2018
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Capital Budget Passes
The State Legislature finally approved the state’s 2017-18 capital budget on January 18, sending the $4.2 billion construction spending plan for major projects to the governor. The impasse was broken when Democrat and Republican negotiators reached an agreement on a Hirst “fix” to address the 2016 Hirst state Supreme Court ruling on rural water rights. Governor Inslee signed both bills into law the following day. Legislators are expected to work on a supplemental capital budget at the end of session this year (early March) to account for higher project prices as a result of the delay. Thank you to all AIA Seattle members who met with or contacted their state legislators on this issue during the past year.
Thanks also to those AIA Seattle members who participated in AIA Washington Council’s Capitol Connections on January 18. Members met with legislators representing districts across Northwest Washington and talked about issues important to architects, including: affordable housing, increased funding for the State Building Code Council, condo liability reform, climate change, and public private partnerships. Architects also emphasized the need to pass the capital budget, and it may not be a coincidence that later that night legislators did exactly that.
2018 State Legislative Priorities
The passage of the capital budget shifts AIA Washington Council’s focus to other key issues up for debate in Olympia. Read about these and a report on the first two weeks of the legislative session on AIA Washington Council’s website. Key issues include carbon, affordable housing, State Building Code Council funding, condo liability reform, public private partnerships, and mass timber.
Seattle: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) EIS
The City of Seattle released a scoping report summarizing the comments it received during the public comment period on the ADU EIS last fall. The report is part of the city’s effort to review a change in Land Use Code regulations to increase the production of ADUs in single-family zones and allow flexibility for larger ADUs. The scoping report outlines how the city will evaluate the alternatives in the EIS. The next step is for the city to complete a Draft EIS, which will be followed by an additional comment period.
AIA Seattle submitted comments on the EIS, as did many AIA Seattle members. AIA Seattle’s comments were grouped around the following themes:
- Clearly identify the impacts to housing affordability as a result of each alternative.
- Include environmental impacts that are caused by any of the alternatives, particularly the impact to carbon emissions and climate change.
- Identify additional ownership structures that could positively impact housing affordability.
In the scoping report, the city indicates that it will study the broader regional impact of each alternative, and each alternative’s impact on the supply of housing. The city will also study the impacts to vegetation and tree canopies, and it will add a second action alternative in addition to the no change alternative and the original proposed alternative, although the second alternative is not identified. The city will also include a parking analysis that evaluates the potential impacts of removing off-street parking requirements for ADUs. The city comments in the report that it will not consider an action to limit development and change in single-family zones because the proposal’s objective is to increase ADU production. Please read the scoping report for additional details.
Seattle: Parking Reform
Last September, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections released draft legislation that could impact how new developments provide off-street parking. The legislation would allow building owners to make parking available for public use when the facilities have excess capacity. The draft legislation also clarifies regulations that allow applicants flexibility in deciding how much parking to include in development projects in areas with frequent transit, including urban centers, light rail station areas, and urban villages. After a public comment period on the proposal and a related SEPA analysis, former Mayor Burgess sent his recommended proposal for Neighborhood Parking to the City Council. The Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee began its review of the proposal this month, with a public hearing planned for February. On-street parking recommendations are coming as well; these will fall under the jurisdiction of the Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee.
Seattle: Fort Lawton Housing Proposal – Opportunity to Comment
The City of Seattle is accepting comments on its proposal to develop now vacant Army Reserve Center property near Discovery Park in Magnolia. The proposal includes developing supportive housing for homeless seniors, affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities for low-income families, and development of new park spaces. The city published a Draft EIS on the proposal in December. A 45-day comment period extends through 5:00 PM on January 29. Comments may be submitted via email to [email protected] or via mail to: Lindsay Masters, Office of Housing, PO Box 94725, Seattle, WA 98124-4725.
Seattle: Mandatory Housing Affordability – Opportunity to Comment
Seattle has announced MHA-related open houses by City Council District (please check later dates on the city’s website):
District 4 – January 30, 6-8 PM at Hamilton International Middle School
District 5 & 6 – February 28, 6-8 PM at Whitman Middle School Gym
District 3 & 7 – March 29, 6-8 PM at Washington Hall
District 2 – April 28, 10 am-12 PM at New Holly Gathering Hall
District 1 – May 9, 6-8 PM at Louisa Boren K-8
District 4 – February 12, Eckstein Middle School
Districts 5 & 6 – March 12, Northgate Community Center
Districts 3 & 7 – April 16, Broadway Performance Hall at Seattle Central College
District 2 – May 7, Franklin High School
District 1 – June 5, Chief Sealth High School
Citywide – June 25, Seattle City Hall
Just a reminder that AIA Seattle has three new Task Forces working on the following policy issues:
Housing: AIA’s Housing Task Force will help guide AIA Seattle’s housing availability and affordability priorities. Members will help define specific policy details related to design as they apply to affordable housing and density proposals, and will support AIA’s efforts to provide comprehensive responses to local initiatives.
Homelessness: The Homelessness Task Force will explore ways AIA can educate members and others on this pervasive issue, utilize our expertise as architects to advocate for those experiencing homelessness, and engage in meaningful action.
Mass Timber: AIA’s Mass Timber Work Group includes members and allies who are interested in promoting the use of wood in tall buildings, including advocating for regulatory changes to Seattle and state codes.
Futurama Redux: Urban Mobility After Cars and Oil – Current exhibit at the Center for Architecture & Design. Through February 17.
Imagineering a Postcarbon Seattle – Part 2 – Explore the challenges and opportunities that decision makers, creatives, and civil society face when taking on the responsibility to phase out fossil fuels. Friday, February 16, 4:00-6:30, Center for Architecture and Design.
Public Interest: Redefining the Architect’s Role in and Responsibility to Society – Emerging Professionals Travel Scholarship Exhibit. March 1 – May 26, 2018.
For more information on these or any other topics, or to join a task force, please contact: