• Rent control resolution fails on split vote by Seattle Housing Committee


    SEATTLE -  

    A resolution on state prohibition of rent control failed on a split vote by the Seattle Housing Committee on Thursday. Councilwoman Kshama Sawant says the move to lift the state ban will still go to full Seattle City Council for consideration.

    Studies of rent control are mixed on its effectiveness, but supporters believe it could help stop what they call economic evictions.


    The resolution urges state legislators to change the Washington State law restricting local governments from instituting rent control or regulating rents. 

    A news release sent to KIRO 7 News on Wednesday says if the state ban were lifted, Seattle would have the option to pursue rent regulation legislation locally. Current state law does not allow cities to limit rent increases. Seattle has seen rent increases of up to 145 percent during 2015.

    The resolution is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Sawant and Nick Licata. 

    Councilmembers Sawant and Licata support having rent control as an option as part of a bold and comprehensive set of solutions to preserve affordable housing in Seattle.

    They argued in a Town Hall meeting in July about the issue with Smart Growth Seattle Director Roger Valdez and state Rep. Matt Manweller.

    Valdez and Manweller said rent control would not work. 

    They warned that developers would not have the incentive to build as many apartment units and accused the council of cracking down hard on micro-housing with new rules. 

    Members of the public were encouraged to share their perspective during the public comment period at the Thursday morning meeting. 

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    Studies of rent control are mixed on its effectiveness, but supporters believe it could help stop what they call economic evictions.

    “Two and a half years ago, I was paying $750 a month for my rent. I'm now paying $1,250 a month for my rent,” Tom Bernard told a packed City Council Housing Committee Thursday morning.

    When Seattle talked about rent control decades ago, the state lawmakers quickly banned local jurisdictions from implementing it on their own.

    “I hate to tell you, but it costs money to have a rental unit in Seattle,” property owner Colleen McAleer told the council. “You have to pay the mortgage and interest, you have to pay the taxes, you have to pay the condo association and every time we all raise the taxes for parks, school, etc., that's a bill that goes to every land owner.”

    The committee vote was tied, but under the rules, the resolution asking state lawmakers to lift the rent control ban will still go to the full council.

    “Something has to be done to stabilize things so that people like me and others on moderate incomes will have a place to live,” Jacqueline Silver told councilmembers.

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