Seattle City Council takes another spin at resolution calling for end to rent control ban — UPDATE: Passed

In a surprising turn of events at City Council, president Tim Burgess introduced a resolution calling on Olympia to lift the state ban on rent control Monday afternoon. Burgess, considered to be among the most conservative council members, previously said he opposed asking the Legislature to lift the rent control ban. Burgess missed last week’s 3-3 vote on a similar resolution being carried forward by Kshama Sawant.

UPDATE 4:10 PM: The City Council passed Burgess’s resolution in an 8-1 vote with Council member John Okamoto giving the sole “no” vote. Burgess said he introduced the resolution after deciding the Council “needed a fresh start.”

“Dogmatic rhetoric blocked pragmatic steps forward,” Burgess said. “As Council President, I drafted an alternative resolution that better captures the intent expressed by most councilmembers: to request local control for local solutions.”

A stripped down statement compared to Sawant’s, Burgess’s resolution essentially asks the state to do same thing. The resolution argues municipalities should have the power to pass laws that “increase the supply of rent-restricted units and that protect tenants from sudden and dramatic rent increases, without causing a negative impact on the quality or quantity of housing supply.” Burgess ended discussion of the resolution by reiterating that it does not take a position on the actual merits of rent control.

In contrast to last week’s long and heated discussion of Sawant’s resolution, Burgess’s resolution passed with relatively little discussion.

“I don’t particularly care who carries the pen as long as the point gets across,” said Council member Nick Licata, who cosponsored the previous resolution with Sawant.

Sawant praised activists for putting pressure on elected officials and said that the city could not build its way out of its housing affordability crisis. “Why is this happening now? It is happening now because we, our movement, has brought pressure to bear,” she said.

Council member Tom Rasmussen said he didn’t support Sawant’s resolution because it made assertions about the experiences of other cities that he didn’t endorse. He also pointed out that it would likely take years for the Legislature to actually repeal the ban on rent control.

Resolutions are not binding law, they state the intent or opinion of the Council.

Earlier in the meeting, the Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the end of youth detention. Council member Mike O’Brien, who sponsored the resolution, thanked teen activists with Ending the Prison Industrial Complex for putting pressure on the City and County to address youth detention.

Original report: Burgess notified colleagues about his resolution just hours before Monday’s meeting, when rumors began circulating that he intended to put the measure to vote. Read Burgess’s proposed resolution, below:

In a media release sent just before Monday’s 2 PM meeting, Sawant called Burgess’s move the result of mass pressure that forced the “establishment to concede.” She also urged her colleagues to wait to vote on October 4th “when the public can be there to celebrate the victory and send a powerful message to Olympia.”

“If this resolution passes, it will be a major victory for our affordable housing movement,” Sawant said in a statement. “It is an essential step forward in lifting the ban on rent regulations and bringing an end to economic evictions in this city.”

Sawant and Council member Nick Licata were the sponsors of last week’s rent control resolution and were joined by Council member Mike O’Brien in supporting the measure.

Meanwhile, the City Council was also set to vote on two other Burgess measures related to tenant protection. One would require landlords to give 90 days notice when they plan to move into the unit or move in an immediate family member. Currently, landlords only have to give 20 days notice for such evictions. The other requires affordable housing providers give the City 60 days notice before selling properties. Burgess introduced the measures in May as Burgess’s top challenger in the citywide Council Position 8 race — former Tenant’s Union director Jon Grant — was gaining ground heading towards the August primary. UPDATE 3:35 PM: The City Council unanimously passed Burgess’s two tenant protection bills.

Burgess Rent Resolution by bchasesc

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9 thoughts on “Seattle City Council takes another spin at resolution calling for end to rent control ban — UPDATE: Passed

  1. Sawant’s blood must be boiling now that Tim Burgess (the “establishment” in her words) has usurped her pet issue by introducing this resolution. No doubt she will try to claim credit.

    This move does not mean that rent control is imminent. Olympia still has to pass legislation, and it is extremely unlikely that this will happen.

    • Yes, how terrible of her to take credit for years upon years of mind-changing campaigning, garnering public support so overwhelming even Burgess was won over.

  2. Dear real estate developers,

    I am going to pretend to support rent control for one day. I am going to get kicked out of office if don’t. I am hoping the voters will be fooled. It has no chance of passing at the state level so it costs us nothing. I will not be giving back your several hundred thousand dollars in campaign donations. I thank you for those and have not forgotten our “arrangement”. – Your Humble Servant

  3. Evil greedy landlords be warned: our local socialist leading the way, our liberal city wants our not so liberal state legislature to let our city council, in its great wisdom, price-control rents. (While we’re at it, why not price controls on other essentials, you know, food, clothing, entertainment – just kidding!)

    Meanwhile realtor’s ad, right next to these comments proudly announces house sale: “Sold! 11% over asking. Stunning Capitol Hill Tudor – $2,100,000” Really! Does it have anything to do with our rental prices, that demand is driving property values through the roof? And will rent control actually cause more units to be available which might drive down prices? Nope, but whoever is in a place with rent that’s under market right now, very good deal for them. Whoever comes after, even tighter market and even higher prices. And evil greedy landlords beware, our city council is on the case, because it’s our city council who knows how best to set prices!

  4. Good job on the meaningless resolution, city council. Do you all feel better now that you got that out of your system? Now why don’t you idiots tackle something that will actually help and that you can legally do.

    • They passed a bill requiring 60 days notice on sale of affordable housing, and extended notice to tenants to 90 days on eviction. All in all it was a pretty productive session.

  5. I agree that we need affordable housing and particularly affordable apartments, but I’m not sold on rent control as the answer. I’ve lived in New York, and have seen the abuses of that system (I sub-rented the dining room of a two bedroom rent-controlled apartment for a summer, and all four of us in there were definitely a profit center for the “real” renter). San Francisco’s rent control seems a bit better, but I don’t think it’s sustainable.

    There has to be a third way, or we are going to become a city of the very rich, the institutional poor (who will be treated essentially as pets) and the homeless.

    Of course, if we taxed the rich at the level that we tax the poor (proportionally) this wouldn’t be an issue, because very few could afford all this “upscale” nonsense they are building around here. Solve the income inequality and you’ve solved the housing crisis.

    • It’s really not that complicated, it’s just the City Council isn’t willing to do what they need to.

      This is a total deflection so they don’t have to address the original HALA recommendations of making any of the single family home neighborhoods in the city take any of the growth. God forbid we see more zoning for townhomes and duplexes/triplexes, because then a single family homeowner might have to live next to someone who previously couldn’t afford to live there. Even worse, it might be marginally more difficult to access their subsidized free street parking.

      Instead, the conversation has been moved to trying to punish those awful greedy developers, who we think will just magically keep building and maintaining their buildings once their current profit margin has been essentially eliminated.

      The best things about rent control? It’s an easy soundbyte, doesn’t require critical thinking, and fits on the bumper stickers Ms. Sawant hands out to her supporters.

  6. THE NEW PROGRESSIVE ENERGY COMING TO THE SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL IS ALREADY BEING FELT??? WITH GODDEN GONE AND TIM “ANGEL POLICEMEN” BURGESS GOING….GOING…..GOING……HOPEFULLY GONE, SEATTLE CITIZENS HAVE BEGUN THE TASK OF DISMANTLING THE ORGANIZED CRIME RICO-RACKETEERING-GANGSTERS / BANKSTERS THAT REALLY RUNS “LIBERAL”, ANTI-BLACK (ESPECIALLY BLACK BUSINESSES) GENTRIFICATION SEATTLE???

    AFRICATOWN / CENTRAL AREA HAS BEEN AND IS HERE TO STAY. WE JUST NEED TO ASK THE DUWAMISH NATIVEAMERICANS FOR THEIR PERMISSION??? WHOSE LAND??? THEIR LAND!!! WHOSE COUNTRY??? “INDIAN COUNTRY???

    HISTORY DOES NOT LIE, ONLY THOSE WHO WRITE IT??? THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES, Omari Tahir-Garrett, VIETNAM VETERAN (1967), WORLD TRAVELER,(AFRICA, ASIA, EUROPE NORTH AMERICA), HISTORY / ANTI-COLONIAL SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER (FRANKLIN, GARFIELD, IMMACULATE ALL GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL) AND CANDIDATE FOR SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL (2018)

    WEBSITE: OmariForCityCouncil
    WEBSITE; AFRICATOWN / CHINATOWN NEWS DIGEST
    WEBSITE: prison2president