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Numerous federal and state judicial decisions have established that environmental impact statements under the National Environmental Policy Act and its state equivalents should examine the impact of proposed projects on emissions of greenhouse gases. Administrative agencies and court settlements are now establishing the guidelines for the conduct of these examinations. This column surveys the emergence of these new guidelines, which is occurring against a backdrop of accelerated activity in both Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leading towards federal regulation of GHGs. The column looks at these guidelines on the federal level as well as within New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Hawaii.
This ordinance sets energy benchmarking requirements on buildings over 20,000 square feet. It also changes the enforcement process for individuals that do not submit an energy benchmark report by moving from accruing fines daily to quarterly fines. The ordinance formally creates an exemption for buildings used in industrial manufacturing, authorizes the delegation of enforcement authority, and authorizes the establishment of grace periods.
This bill requires owners of non-residential buildings of 10,000 square feet or larger and of residential buildings of five units or more to submit reports of their building's energy performance using the US Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Portfolio Manager Tool. The reporting requirement is phased in over a two year period, with larger buildings subject to these requirements by January 1, 2011 and remaining buildings by January 1, 2012. Upon authorization by the building owner, utilities providing energy service in Seattle will be responsible for providing customer billing data in a format compatible with the Portfolio Manager database maintained nationally by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Upon request, building owners will be required to disclose the energy performance of their building to current or prospective tenants, lenders, and buyers. The Department of Planning and Development will be responsible for developing and maintaining a database of all reporting buildings in the city, and for enforcement of the legislation.
This ordinance requires that all capital projects enacted by the county or to which the county lends or otherwise funds construction shall adhere to sustainable and green development and building practices. It establishes functional definitions of these projects and their core components as well as develops a clear and flexible justification for such policy.
The Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance requires landlords to register all rental housing units in Seattle, from single-family houses to large apartment buildings. Exceptions to the registration requirement include commercial lodging, state-licensed facilities such as adult family homes, and housing owned by government groups or by housing authorities such as Seattle Housing Authority. Landlords must register their properties according to a specified schedule and these registrations must be renewed every five years. The ordinance also requires that all registered rental housing units be inspected within the first 10 years of the program. This requirement does not apply to rentals that are already regularly inspected, such as public housing. The owner must hire certified private inspectors to do the inspections. All rental properties that have had two Notices of Violation or an Emergency Order issued within the past two years will be inspected early in the program. This ordinance was created after the passage of enabling legislation by the state legislature.
An ordinance relating to Seattle's Complete Streets policy, stating guiding principles and practices so that transportation improvements are planned, designed and constructed to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use while promoting safe operations for all users.
This ordinance prohibits any county contractors from discrimination between employees with spouses and employees with domestic partners in the provision of employee benefits. This ordinance vests in the County Executive the responsibility to create rules for its implementation, including penalties on contractors who practice discrimination between employees with spouses and those with domestic partners.
The ordinance, in order to achieve the 'fair and just principle' embedded within the countywide strategic plan, requires that equity and justice be applied to every county action. The ordinance establishes an inter-branch team to facilitate accountability of and coordination by all branches, departments, agencies, and offices of county government regarding implementation of the fair and just principle. The ordinance requires that an annual report be designed and published for elected leadership, employees, and the public on the status and trends in equity in the county and implementation accountability measures.
Seattle Ordinance 126035 (“Clean Campaigns Acts”) related to campaign finance regulations. The ordinance limits contributions to independent expenditure committees (CB 119730); prohibits contributions by foreign-influenced corporations (CB 119731); and requires greater transparency in political advertising (CB 119732).
The ordinance increases eligible sites for detached accessory dwelling unit construction; simplifies the renewal process for temporary use permits; increases flexibility to accommodate home-based businesses; allows a greater presence of residential uses at the ground floor of buildings along arterials in commercial zones that are outside of pedestrian-designated (P) zones and potential future P zones identified and mapped by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD); clarifies the capability to include accessory dwelling units in townhouses and rowhouses; raises State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) threshold levels for environmental review within Urban Centers and Urban Villages that contain a Station Area Overlay District while continuing to require transportation impact analysis for exempted developments and possible mitigation through a new section in Title 23; eliminates minimum parking requirements for uses in Urban Villages, Urban Centers, and the Station Area Overlay District; reduces minimum parking requirements within ' mile of transit routes with frequent transit service; and eliminates minimum parking requirements for new development in Major Institution uses, except for hospitals, in Urban Centers or the Station Area Overlay District;