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Sawant and Licata will face-off with pro-development duo in rent control debate

11017071_997832463595084_4462568534337995994_oIt won’t be the decisive bout on the issue of rent control, but a Monday evening debate will be the first major event in Seattle to focus on the policy.

In the left corner, City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant and her Council colleague Nick Licata. In the right corner, Republican state Rep. Matthew Manweller of Ellensberg and Smart Growth Seattle director Rodger Valdez. Former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck will officiate.

Rent control has been a key campaign issue for Sawant in this years election. She elucidated some of her ideas on the issue here, including why many of her economist colleagues oppose the policy.

At the developer-backed organization Smart Growth Seattle, Valdez has spent much of his energy advocating for pro-density policies at the city level. He’s also written about how the city should use affordability policies already in place instead of pursuing rent control. Manweller is also not a fan:

The Town Hall Seattle event starts at 6 PM on Monday.

Should rent control be part of a bold and comprehensive set of solutions to the dire affordable housing shortage in our city?

On July 20th, Councilmember Nick Licata and I will debate in favor of rent control. The anti-rent control position will be presented by Washington State Representative Matt Manweller and Growth and Development Lobbyist Roger Valdez. The debate will be moderated by former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck.

With average rents in Seattle’s neighborhoods ranging from $1,063 – $1,871 per month and 47% of tenants “rent burdened,” more and more people are recognizing that the market has failed to deliver on affordable housing.

At the same time, big developers and corporate landlords are saying louder than ever that rent control is a failure.

Which is correct? Does rent control work? Will it solve Seattle’s affordable housing crisis? Is it even possible in Seattle?
If you support rent control, suffer from skyrocketing rents, or simply want answers to how we can solve our affordable housing crisis, please join us at this exciting debate.

This Rent Control Debate has been Endorsed By:

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Entre Hermanos, Gender Justice League, IBEW Local 46, LGBTQ Allyship, Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), Martin Luther King County Labor Council, NAACP, Seattle/King County Chapter, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA), Puget Sound Sage, Real Change, Seattle Displacement Coalition, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE), Socialist Alternative, Tenants Union of Washington State, Washington CAN, Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, 15 Now


Questions? Contact Adam Ziemkowski in Kshama Sawant’s office:; 206-684-8016

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23 thoughts on “Sawant and Licata will face-off with pro-development duo in rent control debate

  1. Judging by the sponsors and event description, clearly this isn’t a debate, its a Kshama big money pep rally.

    • A gigantic Sawant-supporter circle jerk. If anyone seriously believes this alleged “debate” about rent control will lead to anything, they clearly have way too much time on their hands.

      • As much of a circle-jerker as I am, objectively speaking, I think this could be a decent debate. Valdez is a staunch urbanist, and from what I understand, lobbies for developers of efficiency units (someone should correct me if I got that wrong). Manweller is an Olympian Republican and academic. I think it could shape up to be a good debate and if you oppose rent control, or want to hear pros and cons, it should still be worthwhile.

  2. Small business owners and many residents of this district will be happy to see her go. Hey Sawant, how about you stop littering my street with your promotional garbage. I don’t need to see EVERY telephone pole on my block with your name all over it.

    • We need to send the socialists an invoice for all of the cleanup and disposal involved in getting rid of her propaganda. She has no respect for the neighborhood or the environment for that matter.

      Should she win, I will be moving out of District 3 and I will be very disappointed in my fellow citizens.

      Here’s to the worst politician this city has ever seen.

    • Fully agreed. I take down the promo posters on the telephone poles by my house, and the next day there is another one in place.

      Seriously there was a shirtless, dirty, old white-headed/bearded man (who I’m pretty sure is homeless) who was putting them up on every telephone pole in my neighborhood…

  3. Debate? It remains to be seen if Sawant’s supporters can respect that format and refrain from shouting down other people. SEIU must be sending goons along to these events given the behavior of her followers.

  4. If anyone under the age of 25 votes, she’s going to win. Chances are she’ll win anyway, as she has way more name recognition than anyone else.

    That said, is there anything in her rent control proposal that would lower existing rents? Unless her intent is to halve all existing rents by mandate or take control of all housing, wouldn’t enacting rent control today merely control increases from their currently high level? How does that address the needs of the disposed, i.e. the poor and/or middle-class? Or is that addressed by a push toward more lower cost units in new or existing buildings?

    Unless it addresses current costs, won’t rent control primarily benefit the moneyed who can afford rent today? If I was a renter currently living at, say, Sunset Electric, I’d be totally pro rent control as it means my rent as percentage of income would likely decrease at a more rapid rate than my salary increases.

    This probably falls under, “well duh,” but it seems like you could accomplish more by offering credits or mandating X affordable units in new buildings (in exchange for increased height, whatever), add a new classification to help folks who can’t afford $2K/month but who don’t qualify for affordable housing credits (or whatever they’re called), and allow the high-end to remain high as a way to offset the reduced revenue from the lower-cost housing.

    In other words, let the tech workers pay more because they can afford it, and let them cover a bit of their favorite barista’s rent too.

    • Ding! We have a winner. Rent control hurts the poor, unless you’re lucky enough to have lived here already before it was enacted. Which is creepily medieval. Development will significantly slow down, and rents will go up by the maximum allowable year after year after year. Then, sure enough, the poor will be forced out anyway.

    • “…Chances are she’ll win anyway, as she has way more name recognition than anyone else.”

      There is a very good chance Sawant supporters might be in for a very rude surprise. This is a “top 2” primary; no doubt Sawant will be one of the 2. If she does not get a majority, it’s not a stretch the other winner might get the lion’s share of all the other contender’s supporters. There is not such extensive widespread support for Sawant as her fans think there is.

      • She clearly has a lot of acolytes. But the real question is how many vote in the district. Our district has a lot of people who own homes, renters with brains and central district residents who may resonate far more with Pamela Banks.

        The name recognition for many means that they are passionate about ensuring that anyone but Sawant is elected.

        The primary numbers should be instructive both in terms of who votes and where they live, and the relative strength of the two.

        Then post election, those who voted for one of the others who lost, will need to switch their loyalty to one of the two left. I imagine that the other candidates will endorse Banks or Sawant, but whether their voters will be significant enough to alter the primary results is not known.

      • With as polarizing and confrontational as Sawant has been, I will be very surprised if any of the other candidates endorse her over the other winner of the top 2.

      • I think you’re right, Jim. If the comments on this blog (mostly anti-Sawant) are any indicator, then she is in trouble. I agree she will get past the primary, but the general this fall will be another matter.

        As to hmm’s comment, under-25s do not vote much, especially in a primary, so that group is not going to have much influence.

      • I doubt the comments on this blog are representational of much of anything, as they’re a mix of reasonableness and trolling, and occasional reasonable trolling. They’re also a statistically insignificant sampling of people who care enough about whatever topic is being discussed to post something.

        As for the under-25s, yes, they normally do not vote. If they do, Sawant will win. They turned out in record numbers for Obama in 2008; not that Sawant is Obama, but she may represent a good enough reason for the apathetic to do the hard work of checking off a box and putting something in that… what do those old people call it? Oh right, a “mail box.” While they do that, they’ll wonder why there isn’t an app for that. And then they’ll get off my lawn.

      • People age 18-25 are not necessarily Sawant voters. A great many read and think intelligently. They get economics and vote based upon their analysis, not their age.

      • I don’t doubt that there are at least a few 18-25 year olds who get economics, but I think their own self interests (i.e. “I want cheap rent and to live in the Capitol Hill, and Sawant is saying that will happen!” will win out over logic.

      • You all are an angry, dying breed—Reagan-era anachronisms.

        People on the “progressive left” have no time to battle with developer/electioneering trolls, who come out from under their bridges when their already disappearing way of life is under further threat, because they’re out building movements and effecting change.

        We know you’re either retired and cranky (about garbage on your lawn), or under the employ of pseduo-“small business” owners and/or developers.

        The comments section of CHS turns into a mighty farce during election season. Your rhetoric—young people on Capitol Hill don’t understand [your frictionless modeling of] economics, don’t know that there’s a runoff general election, do not vote, rent without their brains—is rooted in fear, not fact. That is exciting because it means you’re well aware that things are changing (for the worst, in your opinion, which is awesome because it’s such a sad, pathetic perspective).

        Forget the socialist circle-jerk—yours is much more entertaining and sticky.

  5. I’m disappointed that the anti-rent control debaters are a Republican and a developer lobbyist. Makes it easier to dismiss their arguments out of hand.

    It’d be better if one of the, say, thousands of liberal economists who also oppose rent control were involved.

    It might be mildly entertaining to see how bad of a gong-show the Sawant people can make this, though.

  6. Does anyone know if this will be recorded for listening to for those who can’t attend?

    Sawant is the Donald Trump of the left. Loves to hear herself talk, and attracts a passionate fringe following.

    Found this interesting NY Times story the other day:

    Landlord charged with snooping. Tenant paying around a thousand or so (the portion paid by others is not clear) for an apartment whose market value is 7,000 per month. And adding to the mess is that the tenant is apparently able to stay put despite being “tens of thousands” of dollars in arrears on rent.

    This is a cluster fuck of the sort that would develop in Seattle if rent control were to take place; with entitled freeloaders stomping on the rights of owners and enjoying privileges that new and younger people could only dream of.

    One might not like this tenant or the landlord who is trying apparently to document ways to evict the tenant, perhaps proving that others are in the space or otherwise violating the terms in place. There is in NY rent controlled apartments, massive incentive for renters to not give up on their controlled apartments and re-rent space at a nice profit that rightfully belongs to the owner.

    Common sense economics would suggest that if we had rent control (I own a house and am not a rental property investor), that prospective investors will invest elsewhere, be less enthused about building or maintaining property, and that supplies will decrease while population increases. The same forces that allow one to market their talent scarcity and make more or less money, will impact housing prices for those unlucky enough to have shown up on the scene later than someone else.

    A new envy will emerge about those who are paying under market, while those who are newer will be paying even higher inflated prices to reflect scarcity and an attempt by owners to maximize the return they are allowed to make on unregulated units.

    • Seattle Channel will be recording it for air as well as live streaming it. You can watch at

  7. Finally an issue Sawant and I can agree on. Rent control will slow down the utter selling out and tear down of Seattle. This sort of growth reminds me of lemmings or micro-organisms and viruses. Simply put it on the ballot. It will pass.

    • You can put it on the ballot till the cows come home, but it won’t matter. Even if it passes, it’ll be tossed as quickly as a badly-worded Tim Eyman initiative. It’s still illegal with the State. And getting it changed through the legislature or via a Statewide initiative will never happen. The whole issue is a giant waste of time circle-jerk.