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Capitol Hill EcoDistrict | Rent control, yes or no and why?

15-0709 POLL on Rent Controlby Joel Sisolak, Capitol Hill EcoDistrict

How do you feel about rent control? We want to know. Participate in the Dialogue.

Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata are squaring off against Smart Growth Seattle Director Roger Valdez (and a player to be named later) on the topic of rent control. Scheduled for July 20th, this free-to-view cage match (kidding about the cage) promises to be bloody.

Both sides are passionate and articulate advocates from opposite sides of one of the most hotly debated topics in Seattle. Rent control, love it or hate it, is a possible intervention being considered for addressing the skyrocketing rents in Capitol Hill and across King County.

Where do you stand?

Mr. Valdez contends that we don’t need rent control; that rent control feels good (“who doesn’t want to the cost of rent to just stop?”) but actually makes housing prices go up and is, by the way, prohibited by state law.

Councilmember Sawant wants tenants, unions and community organizations to organize to pressure the state to remove its ban on rent control. Councilmember Licata agrees.

There are thousands of people in Seattle already living in rent controlled apartments, also known as affordable or subsidized housing, like the 47 buildings operated by Capitol Hill Housing. But there are far more apartment buildings that are not subsidized where rent rises and falls with the market.

How do you feel about rent control? Do you believe the City of Seattle should institute rent control as a partial solution to skyrocketing rents?



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14 thoughts on “Capitol Hill EcoDistrict | Rent control, yes or no and why?

    • No kidding. We are not special or above the law. It also doesn’t work. I guess that never stopped us before though.

      • Seattle’s last attempt at rent control, Initiative 24, was beat in 1980 due to a wealthy landlord lobby fighting a small tenants union.

        In response, the stated passed RCW 35.21.830 a year later.

        The ban was not about what works and what doesn’t work for working class people.

    • The only people who will show up to this will be pro-rent control people. There will be a lot of screaming and foaming at the mouth and preaching to the choir of people in favor. Nobody opposed will show up because they know nobody would be convinced otherwise anyway, plus as mentioned it’s not legal in WA.

  1. Ignoring whether the state will allow rent control or not, it’s a discussion worth having. However, this will not be a discussion; this will be a shouting and grandstanding match.

    There will be no one asking to give examples where it actually works, or that will bring up that Manhattan and San Francisco are the two most expensive places to live and also have rent control, and why that occurs. And how it reduces mobility because you’ll lose your sweet rent controlled place, rewards those who here when rent control starts at the expense of those who come later, reduces supply as the push toward density will stop, will push ahead conversion to condos, and will do exactly nothing to lower rent for anyone right now.

    A reasonable discussion could be had about ways to keep developers from exploiting loopholes, from kicking people out and remodeling, from giving people longer notices of increases, of reducing the percentage increases allowed, blah blah blah. Or someone could be discussing the real problem, how there are no real middle class jobs outside of tech that allow people to keep up with these increases. You’re either making good money in tech or making shit wages in a service job.

    But this isn’t a time or place for reasonable discussions. Elections are coming, and people need the simplest answers to complex problems.

    • Or making shit money as a teacher or a program administrator at a non-profit. The disparity between types of jobs and level of pay isn’t as stark as you make it sound. There are many people of many career paths, struggling to pay rent. Seattle’s middle class is eroding quick.

      People will shout at this event because residents are frustrated and a movement is building.

      Besides, you don’t need the shouting to end the conversation—your position on the matter is already quite clear and seemingly immutable.

  2. Hmm, let me guess. Sawant supporters will show up and shout over anybody who isn’t Sawant. There will be no actual “debate.”

  3. Rent control only works for the people lucky enough to get into a rent controlled unit, and they stay there for decades. Or, in the case of New York, they sublet it and become mini slumlords (A friend of mine was paying $800 a month for a dining room of a rent-controlled apartment by Columbia in the 1980’s) .

    San Francisco’s method is a little better, but even that is going to fail as land becomes more valuable.

    A few months back everyone blew a gasket when it was revealed that a building was being built in Seattle that had both “affordable” housing and “market rate” housing BUT – horrors of horrors – SEPARATE ENTRANCES!!!!

    To me, it seemed like a fine idea. Let the people who want and can afford the views have their schmaltzy entrance and units on the upper floors (with their rent subsiding the affordable units), and let the folks who want an affordable place go in a separate door. It’s probably one of the most workable ways to provide affordable housing. Sure, it’s elitist, but so’s most of the stuff in this country.

    • Separate entrances? Apartheid much? Ummm, no. BTW, that poll is AWAFUL. It is a fantastic, FANTASTIC example of socially-dysfunctional, clue-less tech nerds run amok without any idea of what makes things friendly to users. The survey is a joke, right? Hahaha.

  4. Separate entrances? Apartheid much? Ummm, no. BTW, that poll is AWAFUL. It is a fantastic, FANTASTIC example of socially-dysfunctional, clue-less tech nerds run amok without any idea of what makes things friendly to users. The survey is a joke, right? Hahaha.

  5. Rent control can and does work. Look to a combination of NYC and Québec for answers. And, tell 1 million people in NYC that rent control doesn’t work. What are you smoking?!!! I’m tired of ignoramuses in Seattle with little real-world experience regurgitating misinfo and anecdotes from petty cry babies who pay more rent than their less-off neighbors. Boo. Hoo. Humans are so lame, greedy and petty.