Features Apr 5, 2017 at 4:00 am

The Pacific Legal Foundation Hates Big Government, Loves Landlords, and Wants to See Your City in Court

George Pfromm


I wonder if this buffoon knows that Rand believed that religion was a type of mental illness, also she was pro-choice
@#1: Really? You're not smart enough o see the difference? Really?
I hope his "presumption of Innocence" argument is just for the rubes and he doesn't try to roll that out in front of a judge. Because that'll sting.
"If a white woman and a black woman apply to rent an apartment, and the landlord doesn't want to rent to the black woman... the black woman never knows that's the reason she didn't get the apartment,"

What's the full quote here, the ellipsis looks like it could have replaced "because she had 50 cats," or "because she was rude".

Since the city where the lawyers work is so important to the story it might also be worth noting that Bellevue is more diverse than Seattle. Maybe even reword the title to "Meet the lawyers from the only minority-majority city that are fighting Seattle's encroachment on fundamental rights."
@4 -- Because there is a difference between a good employee and an outstanding employee. An outstanding employee will make the company way more money than a good employee.

But there is no difference between a good tenant, and an outstanding tenant. Once you have reached the level of good -- pay the rent on time each month, don't cause damage, don't piss off the neighbors, etc. -- there is no where else to go. Thus the nature of the regulation, which says "fully qualified".

Do you get it now, or should I break out the puppets?

While your statement is technically correct, one would have to dig just a bit deeper to note that nearly a quarter of Bellevue's population (as denoted in their 2010 Census profile) comes specifically from four Asian subgroups: Asian Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. In other words, these four demographic groups represent more than 60% of the total minority population of Bellevue. Given that these countries also highly correlate to the countries of origin for H1b visa applications, where these nations represent approximately 43% of the total number of visas granted, one could safely conclude from this that Bellevue's diverse population is due almost exclusively to its proximity to the many high-tech firms located on the Eastside.

So, while Bellevue may be more racially diverse than Seattle, much of that diversity is driven by recruitment for relatively high-paying tech industry jobs, and presumably those workers aren't going to have much problem renting, given landlords are falling over themselves to offer preferential treatment to employees from many of those same firms (Seattle banned the practice last summer, but the City of Bellevue still allows it). It's the minority citizens in Seattle who don't work for those companies, but who otherwise would qualify based on income, who are getting pushed aside.
@6 If the prospective tenant has 50 cats and the landlord specifies that only 1 pet is allowed, then that is not a qualified tenant. "Rudeness" is highly subjective and easily used to mask racist/xenophobic motives, so shouldn't be a disqualifying factor. Only if you ignore neighborhoods south of Yesler could you construe Seattle as being less diverse than Bellevue.
@2: So one must subscribe to a philosopher's views on religion in order to legitimately adopt their political philosophy?
@8 Are you saying that Bellevue's diversity isn't the right kind of diversity?

@9 Thought police much? Someone might use "rudeness" to mask racism so it must be stopped. You'd only think Seattle is more diverse than Bellevue if you ignore facts and even some of the "reporting" done by the stranger.
@11: No # 7 nailed it, but I would be fascinated to hear what you think the difference between a good tenant and an outstanding tenant.
@13 and not just the difference, but the difference that's detectable when neither one IS your tenant yet -- i.e. how can you tell the difference between a good prospective tenant, and an outstanding prospective tenant?
I think the issue is more trying to distinguish "95% likely good tenant" from "98% likely good tenant". A bad tenant can be a real shitshow, and cutting from 5% to 2% would matter. You can always get surprised, but landlords hope they can limit the odds by going with their gut feel about a person.

Can they actually? That's another question. How about this: landlords get to submit a form saying "this guy was first, but I have a bad feeling", and we all get to see if badfeel tenants are really a higher risk.

No, I'm saying that your attempt to use Bellevue's comparatively greater diversity as a deflection from issues relating specifically to Seattle's rent situation is just that - a deflection that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at-hand.
@16 There's not need to qualify it, Bellevue is more diverse. In fact, as you had pointed out, that diversity was achieved without forcing landlords to rent to the first qualified applicant. Since the article specifically mentions racism as why someone wouldn't be rented to, how is it not relevant to include that a neighboring city (full of racist republicans) didn't need a similar law.

More importantly, its not any city's responsibility to ensure that anyone can live there. If shits too expensive move. And if your commute is too long after the move then get another job. And if you can't be bothered to do either, quit bitching that changes has come.
"a group of people with really good intentions who think that government is the great panacea for all our problems."

I take issue with Blevins basic premise. There is far more proof that our government has been a panacea for most of our problems, than there is proof that it isn't. We wouldn't have survived this long and become such a great and powerful nation without a government that's fairly competent at solving very large and complex problems.

Is government the cure for every problem? Of course not, but it's solved more problems than it's caused, the very fact that we're all here reading and talking about the subject in the comfort of wherever we are is proof of that. Government, just like the people who run it, is far from perfect, but it is 100% human, and it's composed of the very same mix of good, bad, and ugly that we all are.

In short, our government is no better than we are, because we are our government.
HALA/MHA and the "Grand Bargain" are built on a lie. Specifically, that it will provide affordable housing in expensive and desirable neighborhoods. It won't. I hope the Pacific Legal Foundation lawsuit kills HALA.

That doesn't make sense. ALL of Seattle is expensive and desirable -- that's the whole point of MHA. The affordable housing is required in all developments over a certain, relatively small size. And even if the developer chooses to pay into the fund, the city will be turning over that money to local non-profit developers to leverage those funds for even more funding for affordable units in transit-oriented developments (TOD) near mass transit and light rail throughout the city. And TOD is some of the most highly-sought real estate in the city.

If 40% of the listings are now selling for a million dollars in Seattle, please tell me the difference between living in Madrona, Ballard (a $1.1 million sale around the corner from me), Magnolia, Laurelhurst or your neighborhood of choice.

The 67 people moving here each day prove that Seattle is desirable on its face. I doubt they give a hoot which neighborhood they live as long as its within the city limits or their commute is under an hour...
"I doubt they give a hoot which neighborhood they live as long as its within the city limits or their commute is under an hour..."

Exactly! And even if, as you say, the developer chooses to pay into that fund (and it's not a question of "if" when it comes to MHA in desirable neighborhoods; they WILL pay the fee in lieu of MHA), the city can get far more affordable housing for their buck if they build it in less expensive areas. So why not build it in Georgetown, Beacon Hill, Biiter Lake, Delridge, South Park, on Aurora etc...? All are relatively close in to the city.

I'll tell you why the YIMBY's aren't satisfied with building in those places. It's because it wouldn't destroy any apparently over-privileged, white, racist Trump voting neighborhoods single-family neighborhoods in the process.
Ah, Libertarians.

Most often old white dudes who mistake their own privileged delusion for ideological currency.
They should do something socially useful and fight Seattle's stupid regulations that have basically killed micro-housing. But that would (gasp) actually help the poor, and right wingers have little interest in that, even if doing so can be done in ways consistent with less-government-is-best principles.
On the one hand, government micro-regulation should always have a check on it, to make sure some power-mad petty bureaucrat isn't stuffing in some badly-thought-out regulation that just makes everything worse. On the other, the notion of libertarianism in big city regulation is ridiculous. You want to live without rules, find a cave somewhere. When you live with lots of people there have to be some rules to ensure basic harmony - be it agreed-upon quiet hours and chore-scheduling with roommates, or housing regulations for cities that let them sort your garbage more efficiently.

So, this law. I get what they're trying to do with it, but I'm not sure that revoking a Landlord's right to choose their preferred tenant is the right way to do it. I dunno, I think I'll agree with the libertarians on this one.
Wow this article has a heavy slant against these Libertarians. I say who cares that they are Libertarians. Is that what is really important about this lawsuit? No - the important thing about this case is it takes away the rights of the property owner to decide who will be allowed to live in his property - who he/she will be willing to take a risk on. There are lots of people who can pay but if the person who can pay the rent doesn't take care of the place the landlord loses money on their investment. The landlord should have some leeway to decide who they rent to and rent to the best person that qualifies - and that may not be the first application received or the first application that qualifies.

See @22.

As I stated previously, Bellevue is diverse precisely because major Eastside tech firms ship in thousands of H1b visa employees every year, pay them well into the six figures, and provide them with all sorts of amenities, including sweetheart deals with landlords for habitation they could all easily afford without incentives - AND a 15 minute commute to campus, often on company provided transportation. So, again, none of the issues you cite are relevant to these people who live in a city that isn't the focus of the OP in the first place.

Now, if you want to actually address the subject and specifically discuss racial profiling in the rental market in SEATTLE, then let's talk about that.


Does owning rental property imbue a landlord with psychic powers? Does it suddenly grant them the ability to predetermine who among a group of otherwise equally financially-qualified prospective tenants would be the ones "who can pay the rent (but not) take care of the place" BEFORE actually renting to them? Upon what criteria does a landlord make such a precognitive assessment? I'm sure the rest of us would be eager for your expert advice on exactly how this is accomplished.
WOW, Seattle has changed since 1997! Bellevue conservatives are hell bent on suing Seattle over rent issues? Seattle needs to stay affordable to stay sustainably livable (how many $2 million dollar luxury condos does the downtown core need?). I'd be interested to read and hear what Mayor Ed Murray and AG Bob Ferguson say about this.
@26-We're not psychic, but we are people (yes, even landlords). Anyone who has been on the planet any length of time does have some ability to decide who is going to be trouble and who is not. And there are plenty of people who qualify on paper but would be disastrous tenants. Imagine you have a four-unit building, and two of the tenants are single women. A guy comes in who can pay the rent and has an OK credit rating but leers at the other tenants while he's touring the property. Should we have to accept someone who has a very high likelihood of making everyone else in the building uncomfortable? This law would say yes, you are stuck with him. Doesn't that seem wrong to you on some level?

"pay the rent on time each month, don't cause damage, don't piss off the neighbors, etc. -- " IS pretty outstanding. The problem is that plenty of people who are qualified on paper won't do those things.
"pay the rent on time each month, don't cause damage, don't piss off the neighbors, etc. -- " IS pretty outstanding. The problem is that plenty of people who are qualified on paper won't do those things.
My Mom used to own a duplex. This law means she cannot turn down a guy who has KKK tats all over his arm and a skin-head bumper sticker. On top of that he plays drums after work. He usually get off work at 9pm. The other tenant is a young Jewish couple with a baby.

While this might not win in Seattle or the 9th Circuit, it they WILL win.

Sidenote: Be careful mocking libertarians.
1) In a snap many liberals have become strong Constitutionalists (10th amendment for one).

2) It's the DEMS in Oly who killed Asset Forfeiture Reform killed. (They sided with the POLICE unions).

3) It's the House Dems in Oly who won't give the indefinite detention bill a hearing.

4) It's the House Dems who won't pass Eminent Domain reform to prevent forcing people to sell their land to build condos or stadiums! (Those being 'economic development').

BTW, where has The Stranger been on these bills? All crickets because libertarians with a small L have sponsored these bills. SMH.

"The organization hasn't shown any interest, for example, in taking on the Tacoma Police Department's use of a Stingray device to monitor cell phones or the Seattle Police Department's use of software to track social-media posts. PLF has no position on those programs, Blevins said, or on how police departments handle data collected from body cameras, one of the hottest ongoing privacy debates in Seattle and cities across the country."

In other words, PLF likes big government just fine when it's the repressive hyper-security state.
Beyond the U.S. of A., the word "Libertarian" is PRIMARILY used in its original way: as a synonym for the word "Anarchist". What those assholes in Bellevue are is rightfully labeled " Individualists" and " Selfish Pricks". --- http://flag.blackened.net [ (A) ].

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