Summer is high season for Seattle King County REALTORS’ political activities

by Taylor Shanaman

Summer may mean a lull in activities for some organizations, but at the Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR) there is no hiatus. SKCR is abuzz with activity, including association elections, preparations for its 84th annual First Citizen Award Event (July 27), its first Real Estate Fair Housing Class under new Department of Licensing requirements, a young professionals networking event and a full slate of tasks for staff and volunteers focusing on governmental and public affairs.

For the Governmental and Public Affairs department, the months of June through August are filled with events and meetings, many in anticipation of important elections.

The association’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee (GAC) meets bi-monthly plus an occasional special meeting. These are opportunities for members to participate in grassroots political activity.

Typical agendas include RPAC updates (Realtor Political Action Committee), reports from SKCR’s housing specialists on current and emerging issues in jurisdictions within King County, legislative updates, and often, guest speakers. Speakers range from public officials, such as King County Assessor John Wilson and representatives from school districts seeking SKCR endorsement of their levies and bond measures.

June got underway with SKCR’s 28th Annual Housing Issues briefing, which focused on “missing middle housing.” The well-attended event, made possible in part by a Housing Opportunity Program grant from the National Association of Realtors and additional funding support from Washington Realtors, included elected officials, candidates, and policymakers whose constituents reside in King County, along with Realtors.

Featured speaker Karen Parolek, principal at Opticos, a team of urban designers, architects, and strategists that advocate for “walkable places that are critical for healthy, resilient and equitable communities.” Based in Berkeley, California, she is a zoning reform expert, educator, author, and well-known proponent of missing middle housing.

Parolek’s presentation included examples of innovative housing types that are visually appealing and cater to lifestyle-driven consumers. At the conclusion of her remarks, she joined Realtor Michael Orbino who moderated questions and follow-up observations.

Guests received a complimentary copy of the book Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to Today’s Housing Crisis, written by her husband, Daniel Parolek, with Arthur C. Nelson. Daniel Parolek, an architect and nationally recognized thought leader in architecture, design and urban planning, is credited with creating the concept of “missing middle housing” and is a leading practitioner of Form-Based Coding.

Along the “missing middle housing” theme, SKCR launched a Residential Zoning Taskforce this year chaired by Garrett Nelson, VP of the Governmental Affairs Committee and facilitated by Housing Specialists Randy Bannecker and Sam Pace. This group is taking a deep dive into residential zoning concepts with the goal of establishing and articulating the association’s vision for increasing density in single-family zones.

Also as part of its activities, GAC monitors growth management and comprehensive plan updates undertaken by various jurisdictions.

June’s GAC meeting was devoted in part to a legislative update (“a look back and a look ahead”) by Nathan Gorton, government affairs director at Washington Realtors. Committee members also considered early endorsements for selected incumbents and candidates with records of support for policies that preserve and expand real property rights and housing affordability.

Over the next several weeks, volunteer Realtors will be immersed in a series of interviews with dozens of candidates running for the state legislative and other positions in King County. These sessions culminate in ratings and, in many cases, determinations of Realtor funding for those who earn endorsements. SKCR publishes voter guides for both the primary and general elections – a valuable resource for members.

Taylor Shanaman is Director of Governmental & Public Affairs for Seattle King County REALTORS®.

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