Climate News

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Climate News

Seattle

Mayor Harrell announced that Greg Spotts will be the new head of SDOT. Spotts currently works for the City of Los Angeles where he is the Executive and Chief Sustainability Director at the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Management. He oversaw the spending for $600 million in America Recovery and Reinvestment Plan funds, and has led efforts in Los Angeles to make the streets more pedestrian and bike and transit-friendly.

Climate News 7.16.22

Seattle

The Climate Planning Resolution passed the Land Use Committee unanimously. This requires the City to develop, as part of its Comprehensive Plan, plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled, to improve climate resiliency in both natural and human systems, and to address environmental inequities. It comes before the whole council on July 19 at 2pm.

Parks Levy hearing held with many callers asking for resilient community centers to be included in the Parks Levy.

Jessyn Farrell was approved by the Sustainability and Renter's Right Committee as director of the Office of Sustainability & Environment. Full Council will need to approve. She gave a statement on how she views her role, video is here, it starts at 10:13.

Debolina Banerjee, Emily Myers, Andrea Ornelas, Deepa Sivarajan, Jess Wallach approved for reappointment to the Green New Deal Oversight Board. Full Council will need to approve.

I don't normally report on traffic incidents, but on Friday there were 10 separate traffic collisions where a driver hit a pedestrian or cyclist. One of them, by the West Seattle Bridge, was fatal for the cyclist. Thanks to Ryan Packer for the reporting on this.

Puget Sound Regional Council

The Growth Management Policy Board heard a presentation on the PSRC's Climate Work Program. Slides are here, video here starting at 18:56. Emissions Inventory for the region is scheduled to be completed in Dec. 2022.

Climate News 7.6.22

Seattle

The Comprehensive Plan is entering the scoping phase. The One Seattle Plan identifies 5 different conceptual approaches, summarized below and discussed at length in this article in the Urbanist (see also the draft Displacement Risk Map). These are the approaches:

  • No Action. This scenario is mandated by the GMA and describes outcomes if no changes are made – business as usual. OPCD considers this the minimum amount for satisfying the regional growth requirements.

  • Focused. This scenario would include new and expanded urban villages and/or new smaller neighborhood nodes.

  • Broad. This draft alternative would allow a wider range of low-scale housing options, like triplexes and fourplexes, in all Neighborhood Residential zones.

  • Corridor. This would allow a wider range of low-scale housing options only in corridors near frequent transit and amenities (i.e., along arterials).

  • Combined. Distribution of housing would be a combination of alternatives 2, 3, and 4, resulting in more areas identified as appropriate for more housing and mixed-use development. Total amount of housing production in this alternative would be significantly larger than the other alternatives.

OPCD is looking for feedback on these options; are there other options to be considered? Should some of these options not be considered? What are the criteria which should be considered for choosing between options? Click here to submit comments on the options. The comment period closes July 25.

Seattle City Budget is forecasted to have a $117M deficit in the General Fund, out of a total of $1.7B. The Mayor has directed city department directors to identify 3-6% cuts when submitting their 2023 budget requests. JumpStart revenues, by contrast are doing well. Alex Pedersen, in his recent newsletter, proposes raiding JumpStart funds to cover the budget deficit. Since Seattle's climate spending (as well as affordable housing money) comes from the JumpStart funding, this is essentially reducing spending in these areas in order to cover spending in other areas.

State

The State Building Code Council voted to move the new residential building codes for public comment and consideration. Residential building codes apply to new single-family homes, townhomes, and low-rise multifamily buildings of up to 3 stories tall. The new codes include requirements for:

  • Space heating using heat pumps, with allowance for use of electric resistance or fossil gas in very cold weather

  • Requires a heat pump system for hot water in one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses. Electric resistance is allowed for small water heaters and for systems integrated into heat pumps.

  • Increased ventilation for gas stoves: Requires new homes and low rise multifamily buildings to install differentiated ventilation requirements for gas stoves.

It is expected that a set of public hearings will take place in the fall of 2022, with the SBCC voting to adopt final code updates before the end of the year. All updates to the commercial and residential energy codes will take effect in July 2023.

Climate News 6.27.22

Seattle

The Green New Deal Oversight Board released its budget recommendations for how to spend the $6.4M in the 2022 Budget, as well as $22M spending for 2023. There were 15 different recommendations, including, broadly, increased funding for the Clean Heat Program (convert low income housing to heat pump), increased funding for workforce development, vehicle electrification of the City's fleet, and more staffing in the Office of Sustainability and Environment. For 2023, it includes, among other things, funding for climate resilience hubs, and public education. The 2022 recommendations are expected to be incorporated into a standalone legislation to be considered by the Council Budget Committee in the next few months.

The Office of Sustainability and Environment has just completed an RFP for workforce training (Priority Hire Program) that includes clean energy jobs as well as construction apprenticeship programs and work readiness. These are oriented to BIPOC, women, and people from distressed neighborhoods. This is an $1.8M program which will extend to 2024.

SDOT presented an update on Vision Zero to the Transportation Committee. Some astonishing statistics:

  • 1200 people have died in traffic accidents in Seattle since 2015. Fatalities are up sharply since the pandemic.

  • Those disproportionately impacted: walkers & cyclists (61% of fatalities), homeless (21%), and people of color.

  • 56% of all fatal accidents happened in District 2 in South Seattle (Seattle has 7 districts in all)

  • More than 80% of bike fatalities happened in places where there are no bike lanes.

SDOT released plans for a Rainier Ave S. makeover. It will include bus lanes for a subset of the length, northbound from Alaska to Walden, and southbound only from Oregon to Edmunds St. Buses come every 3.5 minutes during the morning commute hour, and this corridor has plans for a RapidRide line, so it is not clear why the bus only lanes don't extend for the entire route. Also there is no bike lane planned, and this is in spite of the fact that it is part of the Bicycle Master Plan. There have a been many fatalities along Rainier Ave. S., and it is the only direct, relatively flat route from South Seattle north to downtown.

The timeline for the Seattle Budget Process is as follows:

  • June: Departments submit "High Level Budget Memos"

  • July-August: CBO Budget recommendations, review by Mayoral staff

  • September: Final review, Mayor submits proposed Budget to City Council in end of Sept.

  • Oct.-Nov.: City Council holds budget hearings, offers amendments, final budget approved by end of Nov.

  • Nov.-Dec. : Mayor signs or vetoes

The Nov. ballot will include an initiative on approval voting. It may also include an initiative for social housing (signatures in process of being verified).

King County

The Executive has proposed a plan to preserve open space. This would increase the property tax slightly and restore funding for the Conservation Futures Program to previous levels. County Council is currently considering this.

The County Council is considering a Charter Amendment to move elections to even-year. This is expected to increase turnout.

Climate News 5.14.22

Seattle

Seattle has launched its major Comprehensive Plan Update with a campaign titled One Seattle. They now have an engagement hub, which has a Phase 1 Survey open till the end of the month. It allows you to give the planners a detailed picture of your priorities and your hopes for Seattle. This is your chance to let them know what is important to you and how climate ranks in your priorities.

SDOT released the Transportation Equity Framework, aimed at reducing inequities in transportation from displacement and inequitable access to transportation. "While communities of color contribute less to pollution, they disproportionately experience the long-term impacts of this racism, including limited access to opportunities and wealth. Incorporating this new Transportation Equity Framework (TEF) into department policies and operations is a step toward addressing these issues." The new Framework includes values, policies, and changes to SDOT's internal processes. It is a result of work that SDOT has done with the Transportation Equity Workgroup.

King County

At the King County Climate Town Hall it was announced that the K4C cities have hired a consultant who will be available to assist cities which are updating their Comprehensive Plans using a process as outlined in 1099 to take climate into account.

State

The Interstate Bridge Replacement committee chose Light Rail as the high capacity transit method for the new bridge over the Columbia River to Oregon. It is unclear as of yet where the new Vancouver light rail station would be sited.

Climate News 4.24.22

Seattle

The United States Coast Guard ruled that any new fixed bridges over the Ship Canal must be high enough to accommodate superyachts; this means they must allow for at least 205 vertical feet of clearance, or 70 feet higher than the Aurora Bridge. This will affect the Sound Transit Ballard line, the Ballard Bridge replacement, and the replacement for the Salmon Bay rail bridge. This is after comments from stakeholders, including the Port of Seattle and the National Marine Trade Org., who want to host superyacht service facilities in Seattle. For the Link, this may make a tunnel to Ballard the cheapest option.

Earth Day passed without the Mayor making any kind of Earth Day announcement, although there was an opening of the Miller Community Microgrid, which was started by Mayor Durkan, and of course, the photo op with President Biden. However, no substantive policy announcements were made.

King County

King County and Executive Dow Constantine will host a K4C Elected Official Town Hall May 10th at 4pm, so residents can hear about the recent work of the K4C and the region's approaches to addressing the climate crisis. Register here.

Puget Sound Regional Council

The Regional Transportation Plan was adopted by the Transportation Policy Board, and it will go before the Executive Committee, probably on April 28. Amendments adopted 4/14 include:

  • Work to model and develop steps for how to meet the goal of 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 passed by unanimous vote. Staff has begun soliciting data from reporting agencies, but has no estimate for when the modeling will be completed.

  • Increase capacity to analyze resilience and environmental justice impacts (possibly hire more staff)

  • Update the Active Transportation Plan with a goal of closing existing gaps, develop performance measurements for all-ages trails, and add trails as a "big idea" for the future

The Transportation Board voted down some stronger proposals, including these:

  • Aspirational goal to make each set of projects in a funding round be carbon neutral.

  • Require a Safe Systems approach on funded projects, and require all ages & ability for funded bike paths.

  • Require funded projects to show that they would reduce vehicle miles travelled.

Great article on all this by Ryan Packer in the Urbanist.

This is likely not the end of the story, as PSRC President Claudia Balducci has signaled that she will bring amendments to the Plan before the Executive Board for their April 28 meeting.

Washington State

The Washington Building Code Council passed a new stricter commercial energy code that requires efficient electric heat pump for most space and water heating. The new codes also will bring more energy efficiency and rooftop solar. The Council will next turn its attention to the residential energy code, starting this fall.

Climate News 4.9.22

Seattle

City Council has approved work plans for each council committee for the coming year. This details the work each committee chair is expecting to handle over the course of the year.

The Green New Deal Oversight Board is holding a listening session on April 18 at 5pm to hear public opinions on their budget recommendations for spending the $4.6M in the 2022 Budget that was set aside, and what their recommendations going forward should be. Click here to register.

The Seattle Jobs Initiative, the Office of Sustainability and Emerald Cities are holding a webinar April 25 at 12:30pm on how they are working to address the skills gap in the workforce for clean energy that is slowing down the transition in the three county region (King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties).

New bus lanes: SDOT is building an eastbound bus-only lane on 45th between Roosevelt Way Northeast and 15th Avenue Northeast, and a southbound lane along 15th Avenue Northeast between Northeast 45th Street and Northeast 40th Street to ease buses through congestion there. SDOT is also building a bus-only lane on Northeast 43rd Street between 15th Avenue Northeast and University Way, for buses traveling west to provide riders direct access to the U District Station south entrance.

U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recommended allocating $60 million to Seattle’s RapidRide J Line project. RapidRide J upgrades Route 70, and connects downtown, South Lake Union, Eastlake and the University District. It will also include pedestrian improvements and protected bike lanes.

Projected revenue forecasts have improved. The latest revenue forecast from the Office of Economic and Revenue Forecasts shows an increase of $32.5M in General Revenue Funds, and $57.5M in special funds (special funds are up mainly due to the Payroll Expense Tax, and secondarily the Real Estate Excise Tax).

Councilmember Tammy Morales launched a town hall series called Seattle Within Reach, about "how we build a Seattle in which everyone has the ability to live, work and play – within reach". It is aimed at how Seattle updates its Comprehensive Plan. Councilmember Morales hosted a Town Hall to introduce the concept, video is available here.

Sound Transit

West Seattle/Ballard Link Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) remains open for public comment until April 28. The Urbanist's monthly meetup featured a joint presentation with Seattle Subway, which detailed some of the design choices made, why they are made that way, and alternatives that Seattle Subway would like to see further explored. That presentation is not yet uploaded, but meanwhile here's a placeholder so you can find it later.

Sound Transit staff made a statement on the proposed alternative Gondola plan for West Seattle, saying that it had significant limitations, including compatibility with existing light rail system, lack of expandability, and funding. It lacks capacity to serve projected ridership, surge events, or future regional demand. And they believe that a gondola system could not be done under the existing Sound Transit authorization, but rather a new voter approval would be required.

Sound Transit is currently seeking feedback on the Everett link extension, from Lynwood to Everett Station. They project completing through to Southwest Everett Industrial Center by 2037, but said that completing the route to Everett Station would require either more funding or more time. When completed, travel time from Everett Station to downtown Seattle would be 60 minutes.

Regional

PSRC Transportation Policy Board is meeting on April 14 at 9:30am to discuss amendments to the Regional Transportation Plan. Amendments proposed include introducing the region's 2030 goal to reduce emissions by 50%, and do modeling to project how the region will do to meet the goal, many items around multi-modal transportation and safety, and more. Register here by 8am April 14th for public comment, or send comments via email to cmoreau@psrc.org.

PSRC's Growth Management Policy Board met with an interesting slide deck on Data Trends: the latest on population growth (it's going up), housing supply, prices, and inventory (rental & sales prices up, supply up but slower growth, inventory very low), economic trends and transit ridership.

Climate News 4.1.22

Seattle

SDOT has started gathering feedback on the Seattle Transportation Plan, The new plan will integrate Transit, Pedestrian, Bike and Freight plans, and will be used to inform funding choices in the next Transportation capital levy. Here's a link to the survey.

The Office of Sustainability and Environment is having listening sessions on a proposed new Building Standards program, designed to reduce emissions from larger buildings. Online Open House is April 5, 12:00 - 1:30pm.

The Green New Deal Oversight Committee will hold a Town Hall on April 18 to gather community input on the recommendations for spending on the budget for 2022, the $4.6M Green New Deal funding that is awaiting their recommendations, as well as gathering recommendations for the 2023 budget.

Seattle has launched the Comprehensive Plan update process, now named One Seattle. The State passed a law that pushed the deadline 6 months out to allow more time for climate planning, and also passed funding for climate planning, although 1099 was not passed. Several King County cities have announced the intention to abide by 1099 provisions. A survey for the Comprehensive Plan is here. Councilmember Morales is hosting a series of Town Hall on the plan, centered around the idea of the 15 minute community as part of a series titled Seattle Within Reach. The first Town Hall is an introduction and can be viewed here.

City Council approved a new ordinance sponsored by Dan Strauss and Alex Pedersen, requiring that arborists conducting commercial tree work register with the city. There are training and education requirements in order to be registered. The overhaul of Seattle's tree ordinance is on hold for a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review. An article in The Urbanist sums it up.

Other King County Cities

Redmond, Bellevue, Issaquah and Kirkland have launched a Climate Action Challenge. This is a public education campaign that aims to get people to calculate their carbon footprints, and create personalized reduction plans. People can form teams when view results online. There will be public training sessions in late April and early May, and people from other cities are welcome to participate.

Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC )

The draft Regional Transportation Plan is before the Transportation Policy Board, with a number of amendments to consider. Many of the proposed amendments relate to climate goals and transit/bike/walk. The Board will be meeting again on April 14 at 9:30am to consider amendments, and have a hard deadline in May for the Executive Board to approve a plan in order to be able to apply for Federal funds.

State

Thanks to Climate at the Legislature for help understanding the bills. Many bill descriptions are cribbed from there.

These bills passed both chambers, need Governor's signature

SB 5042. Eliminate the GMA vesting loophole. Part of Washington Can't Wait.

HB 2119/SB 5974 State Transportation Spending Package. Passed the Senate and referred to House Rules. Will need to conference.

HB 2118/SB 5975. State Transportation Revenue Package. Passed the Senate and referred to House Rules. Amended to drop export fuel tax introduced. Will need to conference.

HB 1663 Reducing methane emissions from landfill.

HB 1280 GHG emissions reductions in construction and leasing of public buildings. Includes the cost of greenhouse gas emissions and the consideration of all-electric systems in the analysis of buildings the State’s constructing or leasing.

HB 1793 Concerning electric vehicle charging stations in common interest communities. The bill prevents an apartment owners’ association from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in a designated parking space for the personal use of an apartment owner.

SB 5616 Allows using the energy efficiency account permanently for loans, loan guarantees, and grants that reduce greenhouse gas emissions for emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries.

HB 1753. Creates requirements for consultation with tribes on expenditures from the Climate Commitment Act.

HB 1768. Update definition of energy conservation projects. Expanding the definition of the conservation projects that the Department of Enterprise Services and school districts are to implement (if they’re cost effective) to include projects reducing energy demand or greenhouse gas emissions.

SB 5590. Eliminating the 2022 expiration date of the marine resources advisory council. Allows continued study of ocean acidification.

SB 5678. Provides for preliminary declarations by the UTC on whether proposed energy projects would comply with a utility’s requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Energy Transformation Act

HB 1619. Update appliance efficiency standards.

SB 5528. Allow taxing within sub-areas of Regional Transit District (e.g. Sound Transit) for better service.

HB 1644 School bus electrification. Allows funds from the Transportation Vehicle Fund to be used to purchase electric school bus and recharging infrastructure.

HB 1389 Reduce insurance requirements for peer to peer car rentals. Amended to require cars to have a twice the minimum level of insurance.

SB 5818 Limits review and appeals under the State Environmental Policy Act and Growth Management Act to promote housing construction in cities.

SB 5619 Protecting kelp forests. Develops a plan to conserve and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by 2040.

SB 5722 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. Creates a benchmarking and energy management program (and eventual performance standards) for multifamily buildings of at least 50,000 sq. ft. and other buildings between 20,000 and 50,000 sq.ft.

HB 1799. Concerning organic materials management. Increases food composting and reduces food waste.

HB 1988. Defer taxes for clean energy projects. Creates a ten year sales and use tax deferral for projects investing at least $2 million in clean technology manufacturing, clean alternative fuels production, generating renewable electricity, or storing it, with options for reducing or eliminating the deferred taxes.

SB 5849. Tax break for solar. Extends the reduced B&O tax rate for manufacturers of solar systems and components for five years; creates 10 year property tax exemption for new industrial or manufacturing facilities in designated areas. Passed the Senate, referred to House Finance.

SB 5714. Creating a sales and use tax deferral program for solar canopies placed on large-scale commercial parking lots and other similar areas. Passed Senate, in House Finance.


Failed right at the end

HB 1099. Add Climate Element to the Growth Management Act.

HB 1918. Exempts zero-emission outdoor power equipment from the sales tax. A provision to add a 6.5% emissions tax on non-electric equipment was removed.

Climate News 3.6.22

Seattle

City Auditors reported on the Sidewalk Audit in a meeting of the Transportation Committee (starts min 15:00). Nearly half of the City's sidewalks are in a state of disrepair that may impair mobility. Although the City is liable for injuries from sidewalk disrepair, property owners are responsible for keeping the sidewalks in good state. However, the City only very rarely issues citations for bad sidewalks. One recommendation was to require property owners to pass inspection before selling property. The cost of bringing all sidewalks to a state of good repair was estimated at about $500 million dollars. For comparison (as noted by Ryan Packer) this is slightly more than is estimated to be required to replace the Magnolia Bridge.

The comment period for the proposed tree ordinance has been extended to April 4. Hearings will be scheduled once comments are in.

PSRC

The PSRC will be doing briefing and feedback meetings on various aspects of the Comprehensive Plan, including one on Climate.

State

Thanks to Climate at the Legislature for help understanding the bills. Many bill descriptions are cribbed from there.


These bills passed both chambers, need Governor's signature

SB 5042. Eliminate the GMA vesting loophole. Part of Washington Can't Wait.

HB 1280 GHG emissions reductions in construction and leasing of public buildings. Includes the cost of greenhouse gas emissions and the consideration of all-electric systems in the analysis of buildings the State’s constructing or leasing.

HB 1793 Concerning electric vehicle charging stations in common interest communities. The bill prevents an apartment owners’ association from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in a designated parking space for the personal use of an apartment owner.

SB 5616 Allows using the energy efficiency account permanently for loans, loan guarantees, and grants that reduce greenhouse gas emissions for emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries.

HB 1753. Creates requirements for consultation with tribes on expenditures from the Climate Commitment Act.

HB 1768. Update definition of energy conservation projects. Expanding the definition of the conservation projects that the Department of Enterprise Services and school districts are to implement (if they’re cost effective) to include projects reducing energy demand or greenhouse gas emissions.

SB 5590. Eliminating the 2022 expiration date of the marine resources advisory council. Allows continued study of ocean acidification.

SB 5678. Provides for preliminary declarations by the UTC on whether proposed energy projects would comply with a utility’s requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Energy Transformation Act

HB 1619. Update appliance efficiency standards.


These bills passed both chambers but need concurrence

HB 1099. Add Climate Element to the Growth Management Act. Part of Washington Can't Wait. Amended in the Senate to remove climate mitigation, and only require climate resilience.

SB 5528. Allow taxing within sub-areas of Regional Transit District (e.g. Sound Transit) for better service.

HB 1644 School bus electrification. Allows funds from the Transportation Vehicle Fund to be used to purchase electric school bus and recharging infrastructure.

HB 1389 Reduce insurance requirements for peer to peer car rentals. Amended to require cars to have a twice the minimum level of insurance.

SB 5818 Limits review and appeals under the State Environmental Policy Act and Growth Management Act to promote housing construction in cities.

HB 1663 Reducing methane emissions from landfill.

SB 5619 Protecting kelp forests. Develops a plan to conserve and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by 2040.

SB 5722 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. Creates a benchmarking and energy management program (and eventual performance standards) for multifamily buildings of at least 50,000 sq. ft. and other buildings between 20,000 and 50,000 sq.ft.

HB 1799. Concerning organic materials management. Increases food composting and reduces food waste.

These bills affect the budget and are still in play

HB 2119/SB 5974 State Transportation Spending Package. Passed the Senate and referred to House Rules. Will need to conference.

HB 2118/SB 5975. State Transportation Revenue Package. Passed the Senate and referred to House Rules. Amended to drop export fuel tax introduced. Will need to conference.

HB 1918. Exempts zero-emission outdoor power equipment from the sales tax. A provision to add a 6.5% emissions tax on non-electric equipment was removed. Passed House, at Senate Way & Means.

HB 1988. Defer taxes for clean energy projects. Creates a ten year sales and use tax deferral for projects investing at least $2 million in clean technology manufacturing, clean alternative fuels production, generating renewable electricity, or storing it, with options for reducing or eliminating the deferred taxes.

SB 5849. Tax break for solar. Extends the reduced B&O tax rate for manufacturers of solar systems and components for five years; creates 10 year property tax exemption for new industrial or manufacturing facilities in designated areas. Passed the Senate, referred to House Finance.

SB 5714. Creating a sales and use tax deferral program for solar canopies placed on large-scale commercial parking lots and other similar areas. Passed Senate, in House Finance.


These bills failed recently

HB 1770 Strengthening energy codes passed the House, and made it to Senate Rules but failed to get a floor vote. It was amended in the Senate, as reported by Climate At the Legislature the bill "drops the requirements for net-zero readiness by 2034 and for an eventual 80% reduction in net energy consumption from the 2006 Washington State Energy Code. It eliminates the home affordability cost analysis. The bill now simply authorizes local jurisdictions to adopt a residential energy stretch code created by the Code Council to reach the 70% reduction in energy use currently required for the regular 2030 code three years earlier. (It would also require a 70% reduction in emissions, though.)"

HB 1660 Modifying the State’s limits on local jurisdictions’ ADU requirements. Passed the House, was scheduled for floor vote but no vote taken.


Climate News 2/21/22

Seattle

Mayor Bruce Harrell gave a State of the City address that (among other matters) noted that the city has a projected $150 million shortfall in next year's budget, as well as projected extra $31 million in revenue from the JumpStart tax. He proposes funding the shortfall using money from JumpStart, which would divert it away from the Council's current spending plan which has 9% for the Green New Deal as well as 62% for affordable housing, 15% for small business, and 9% for equitable development.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) recently published proposed legislation and environmental reviews for trees. This opens the way for City Council to again consider a new tree ordinance. This is expected to be taken up by the Land Use Committee. Further, City Council is also considering a separate proposal to provide a registration for tree service providers (CB 120207), also in the Land Use Committee.

Seattle is redistricting after the census. Four proposal maps have been posted, and the redistricting commission is taking feedback. There are a series of public meetings in the next month.

State

The Washington State Building Codes Council (SBCC) is considering whether to adopt two proposals that would require heat pumps for space heating and water heating for new commercial buildings. They are holding a public hearing on Feb. 25

The Transportation Package is moving along. SB 5974/HB 2119, the spending portion, passed the Senate and is before the House Transportation Committee, which has scheduled a vote on Feb. 22 (tomorrow, as of this writing). SB 5975, the revenue portion, is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Transportation Committee on Feb. 23.

These bills failed because they were not voted out of the House Origin before the cutoff date:

Climate News 2.14.22

Seattle

Three positions are open on the Urban Forestry Commission, applications are due by Feb. 24.

Seattle School levies, including $18M for clean energy (building and transportation electrification) passed.

City Council Transportation Committee will meet Tuesday Feb 15 at 9:30 to discuss new SoundTransit Link alignment and deep tunnel. Many people are concerned about the depth of the tunnel, especially considering how often the Link escalators are out of service. The current plan for a deep bore tunnel would require 10 minutes for people to get from the street down to the station platform. In case of emergency, it would be difficult for anyone who is not physically fit, and might be impossible to carry people up that far. One other point of contention is the location of the Chinatown station: Seattle Subway is advocating for a more expensive location on 4th avenue with a shallower tunnel. They point out that the 4th Ave viaduct will have to be replaced soon anyway, and that they can save money and reduce disruption to the neighborhood by doing both projects at once.

Puget Sound Region

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Community Listening Meetings in prep for new Strategic Plan.

Puget Sound Regional Council has an open comment period for the Regional Transportation Plan until Feb 28.

State

A draft version of the new Commercial Energy Code is open for public comment, now thru March 11. They are considering a proposal that would dramatically reduce emissions from new commercial buildings by restricting fossil fuel equipment and requiring clean, efficient heat pumps for space and water heating. Click here to sign petition by Feb 15.

A State Transportation Package has been introduced to the Legislature. It is Move Ahead Washington, a $16B 16-year plan with no bonding. It has significant new transit, bike, and pedestrian funding, due to an expected infusion of revenue from the Climate Commitment Act. It also has some very significant highway expansion projects. The package is separated into two bills, SB 5974 which relates to the spending, and SB 5975 which has the revenue portion. SB 5974 passed the Senate Transportation Committee. HB 2119, the companion bill for SB 5974 will have a hearing Feb. 17 before the House Committee on Transportation at 3:30pm.

HB 1099 Adding Climate to the Growth Management ActPassed the House and is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Committee on Housing & Local Government Feb 17 at 8am.

SB 5042 Closing the GMA Loophole – Passed the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Environment & Energy Feb. 17 at 1:30pm.

HB 1782, Middle housing near transit. Scheduled for a vote in the House today.

HB 1770/SB 5669 Building codes. Passed the House, scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology Feb 17 at 10:30am. Sign in Pro.

HB 1767/SB 5666 Targeted Electrification. Scheduled for a floor vote today.

HB 1644, State may fund electric student transportation. Passed the House, scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education Feb 18 at 8am. Sign in Pro.

SB 5510 Extends time for renewal of Transportation Benefit District sales tax to 10 years. Passed the Senate, referred to House Finance Committee.

SB 5528 – Allow Regional Transit Authority (such as Sound Transit) sub-areas. Passed the Senate, referred to House Transportation.

SB 5707 – Extend authorization of Seattle to use automated camera enforcement for transit lanes, crosswalks, and intersections. Passed the Senate, referred to House Transportation.

Climate News 1.31.22

Sound Transit

West Seattle/Ballard Link Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is open for public comment until April 28. Online public meetings are scheduled, as well as a possible in-person corridor wide open house on March 17 from 12-7pm at Union Station.

  • Tuesday, March 15, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Interbay/Ballard focused)

  • Tuesday, March 22, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Downtown focused)

  • Thursday, March 24, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (CID/SODO focused)

  • Wednesday, March 30, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (West Seattle focused)

King County

Council committees have been tweaked. There is now a Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee chaired by Rod Dembowski. Local Services and Land Use is chaired by newly-elected Councilmember Sarah Perry.

State

A draft version of the new Commercial Energy Code is open for public comment, now thru March 11. They are considering a proposal that would dramatically reduce emissions from new commercial buildings by restricting fossil fuel equipment and requiring clean, efficient heat pumps for space and water heating. More information from ShiftZero here.

A series of important deadlines in the Legislative Session are coming up. Deadline for passing bills out of their policy committee is Feb 3 (Weds). Deadline for fiscal committees is Feb 7. And deadline for passing house of origin is Feb 15.

SB 5042 GMA Sprawl loophole billpassed the Senate

SB 5510 – Extends time for renewal of Transportation Benefit District sales tax to 10 years - in Senate Rules

SB 5707 – Extend authorization of Seattle to use automated camera enforcement by two years – in Senate Rules

HB 2026 – Concerning vehicle per mile charge in House Transportation

Climate News 1.25.22

Seattle

Ballots have been mailed for the Seattle School Levies, and are due on Feb. 8. The school levies contain $18M funding for converting the schools to use clean energy – to convert from fossil fuel heating to heat pumps.

The Office of Sustainability and Environment presented on what Seattle is doing about climate, sponsored by People for Climate Action

The Green New Deal Oversight Committee is choosing 3 more members, applications are due by Jan 31. They will be making recommendations for how to spend the $6.4M that was allocated in the 2022 City Budget for GND, as well as making recommendations for the 2023 City Budget. Those two processes will run in parallel, from Feb to May. There will be a community engagement effort in Feb and March, and the board will finalize the 2022 recommendation at the April 18 meeting, for vote in City Council in May. This is a good time to let them know your priorities. They have established three sub-committees, one for the budget recommendations, one for engagement, and one for recruitment to fill up the three vacant seats.

Seattle City Light is updating their Climate Plan, and will be taking public input on a draft version in Feb.

Port of Seattle

A new cruise terminal is "off the table" according to Ryan Calkins, new Port Commissions President. Cruise ships are major polluters, both on their own and because they require aviation. The Port is now considering using Terminal 46 as a redeveloped cargo port. Seattle Cruise Control is advocating for using it as a staging area for offshore wind turbines.

State

HB 1099 Adding Climate to the Growth Management Act passed out of the House!

SB 5042 Closing the Growth Management Act Loophole scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor

HB 1770 Strengthen building energy codes. Passed out of Local Government Committee and sent to House Rules.

SB 5543 – Cash for clunkers for exchanging gas landscaping equipment for electric. Passed out of Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology, referred to Ways & Means.

HB 1767 Targeted Electrification. Passed out of House Committee on Environment & Energy.

HB 1766 Clean Heat Act. Hearing before the House Committee on Environment & Energy Jan 28 at 10am. Sign In Pro.

SB 5510 – Extends time for renewal of Transportation Benefit District sales tax to 10 years




Climate News 1.16.22

Seattle

City Council reorganized. Debora Juarez is now Council President. Of note, responsibility for Seattle City Light has shifted to Economic Development, Technology, and City Light, now chaired by Sara Nelson. Alex Pedersen is chair of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities. Dan Strauss remains chair of Land Use, Kshama Sawant is chair of Sustainability and Renters' Rights, Teresa Mosqueda is chair of Finance and Housing. City Council did establish a Select Committee on Climate, we are waiting to hear more about that.

Regional

The Puget Sound Regional Council has released the draft Regional Transportation Plan, and is accepting public comments on it from Jan. 13 - Feb. 28. Click here to sign up for a planning briefing meeting or to submit your comments.

The Puget Sound Regional Council Transportation Policy Board approved a new framework for allocating Federal funds (p. 22) to local projects, with new criteria for rating projects. According to TheUrbanist: "the policy was adopted in advance of a call for projects from across the region being issued next month, with a full list of projects expected to be approved by this fall." One of the big changes was strengthening equity and safety as criteria for project selection, and adding a 5% set aside for equity-focussed projects. No increased set asides were made for pedestrian or bike infrastructure. Typically the PSRC distributes $90M from the Federal Highway Administration for spending on roadway, transit, bike/ped, and other, and $200M from the Federal Transit Administration for transit-related projects.

State

HB 1767/SB 5666 which would allow public utilities such as Seattle City Light to do targeted electrification incentives, is before the House Environment & Energy Committee on Jan. 18 at 8am. The committee has scheduled a vote for it on Jan 20, 1:30pm. Hearing in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee scheduled for Jan 19 at 8am.

Hearing for HB 1770/SB 5669 would allow Seattle to adopt a stricter energy building code for new residential construction, scheduled in the House Committee on Local Government Jan 19 at 10:00am. Committee is scheduled to vote on it Jan 21 at 8am.

Hearing for HB 1782 to allow for missing middle housing near transit stops before the House Committee on Local Government Jan 18 at 10:00 am.

Hearing for HB 1682 on pathway for EITE businesses to reduce emissions before the House Committee on Environment & Energy Jan 18 at 8:00 am.

SB 5543 cash for clunkers for exchanging gas landscaping equipment for electric. Vote scheduled in Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology at 10:30 AM Jan 20.


Climate News 1.5.22

Seattle

City Council establishes Select Committee on Climate. Still awaiting news on committee chair and scope.

City Council approved new Energy Code requiring all water heaters in new commercial building to be electric.

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe fired. SDOT Chief of Staff Kirsten Simpson is taking over temporarily pending a national search for a new director who is "aligned with my [Bruce Harrell's] vision." Mayor Harrell's statement goes on to say "Going forward, my vision is for a Seattle Department of Transportation that centers equity throughout our transportation network across every street and sidewalk, in every neighborhood and community. We must create a balanced transportation ecosystem – increasing safety and decreasing travel times by bolstering transit, improving sidewalks, protecting bike lanes, and recognizing the role of cars and new electric vehicles." It's difficult to tell based on this statement why Zimbabwe was removed, and what policy changes may be ahead.

Office of Environment and Sustainability has been conducting outreach on the OSE dashboard. They have been able to get more detailed and more frequent reporting of some of the major components:

State

Gov. Inslee announced his climate agenda for 2022. It includes these priorities:

  • Decarbonize buildings

  • Climate Commitment Act followups: create an Office of Climate Commitment Accountability, a stronger, clearer consultation process with tribes on CCA investments, map out a plan for emissions-intensive trade exposed industry to reduce their emissions, and improved air monitoring in overburdened communities.

  • $100 million for EV rebates, including $7500 for new battery electric vehicles (BEV), $5000 for used BEVs and $1000 for zero-emissions motorcycles and e-bikes.

  • $450 million for cleaner fuel ferries, statewide EV charging network, clean bus technology, and improvements for transit, pedestrian, and bike infrastructure.

The Legislative Session starts on Monday. New bills we are tracking: