It's Ed's committee, so we should all expect long delays along with overwhelming support for big business.
Ugh. Won't this moron please just go away? Rent Control is the most studied of any issue in all of economics. Every single person who is capable of thinking their way out of a paper bag can tell you that rent control policies do far more harm than good for renters. A very small handful benefit while the vast majority suffer. If Jon Grant cared half as much about helping renters as he does about getting elected he wouldn't be pushing this disastrous policy. Or maybe he really is that dumb? Either way, he's convinced me that my vote is going to Roderick.
It's easy to shoot down controversial ideas. Until we have enough homes to meet demand we need policies to prevent Seattle and other cities from becoming unaffordable for people who don't have IT or manager jobs. Personally, I think we just need better wages for those folks. Better wages means we can afford the higher rents that will produce more units. This flow of cash is what fuels economy.
Have you or anyone else at the Stranger researched the outcome of rent control in other cities? What are the tradeoffs? Who are the winners & losers? Why have historically liberal states like Washington, Oregon, and Minnesota passed laws passed that restrict or prohibit rent control? What exactly are the goals of proponents of rent control in Seattle and are there more effective policy alternatives out there? Are opponents just meanies or do they have any valid points?
The only way to make rent go down is to build more apartments.

The best way to do that is to remove the cap on Property Tax, make the Land Hogs sell off.

And then rezone the open spaces like golf courses, and mansions, for more density.

You don't have to build apodments.

You do have to impose burdens on Land Hogs and start building according reality, not a lot of compromises to assuage the greed of Insiders.
Its totally a conspiracy, the evidence of rent control success is suppressed by the man.
76% of San Francisco's rental stock is under rent control. Obviously it's done great things for them.

Meanwhile in New York, anybody lucky enough to get into a rent-stabilized place knows full-well that you don't give up the lease when you move away. No, instead, you sublet the unit to your friends under the table for whatever you were paying plus a little bit for yourself.
The urban left's rent control guilty pleasure drives me crazy. Rent control is completely incompatible with urban sustainability and the laws of supply and demand. We have a problem in this city: too few available apartments. Build more, don't enshrine a problem. Indeed, it raises serious social justice questions for current tenants to fight for a locked in rent rate at the expense of future residents of the area.
Exactly #1. Since SHA is no longer in the business of increasing more affordable housing or replacing them in equal numbers with the demise of Yesler Terrace, Seattle needs to look at rent stabilization. The pro development crowd like to pull out rent control baddies using simplistic econ 101 when the situation and is anything but. There are good and bad side to rent control.

The San Francisco rent control argument only affects housing built BEFORE 1979. And even then, there are plenty of loopholes to get around it like this -…

Which is why Bay Area and NYC bedroom communities are re-examining rent stabilization given government isn't going to build them. And why would they do that? Because they realize people who service their masters and commanders need to live under a roof too!
For a far better discussion:…
Here's where you Suckers are wrong.

You assume that the guys who run this town are all looking out for you and your benefit. You assume that "oh if only Bad Evil Guys" would let them, the Democrats would create a paradise where artists and multiculturals could get a job and apartment easily.

Dream on. The people who run the Democrat Party set this who scam up to steal income, and to cram as many votes into as little space as possible while keeping the wealth of their big donors intact so they can continue their reign.

All I have to do is point to the facts. FL and TX, you can get a house for $100,000 in great condition. WA and NY, prices are heading into the millions. Now, tell me, which party if for the "average person"?

@4, Why would you trust Ansel to produce an objective piece? Never going to happen at The Stranger.

Most of your questions were answered within a series posted on the Seattle Transit Blog a few years ago. Disappointing that we have to rely upon a transit blog to be the best source of housing affordability research -- but it's a very thought and in-depth series.…
Thanks Asel for shining light on the seamy underbelly of HALA. How about posting a link to Jon Grant's white paper on rent control? Clearly HALA threw it into the shit can, but lots of people would like to see it.
Ah yes, seattle transit blog. Read Roger Valdez's contributions there. Objective perspective indeed.
And after such enlightened 2013 piece in the seattle transit blog, surely NOW in Seattle, where there is no rent control or rent stabilization and more and more rental units built and available, old Yesler torn down while new street cars track laid down, no linkage fees anywhere, up zoning, we must have answered affordable housing issue by now. Or at least a midge. It's 2015 after all. What exactly do we have now? Ah yes. More tent cities. More, carefree, shit anywhere 4 wheel living. HALA. And Sawant. And linkage fees mentioned by a non Sawant, no less. Eeek!

According to enlightened STB piece, rent control not only is bad for affordability, it forces landlords to racially discriminate against potential renters because you know, newly built, market rate apartments don't (alleged) do that in Seattle, like this ..…

Have we reached nirvana yet?
@13, Not sure if you didn't read the link or are hopelessly confused, but Roger Valdez had nothing to do with either the post or the blog. Nice attempt at a smear however.

Since you seem to perhaps have some reading comprehension issues, here's a link to the second post in the series:…

@12, Maybe HALA ignored Grant because they understand that there is already a HUGE body of research that proves beyond any doubt that rent control is terrible public policy. Maybe they realize that Grant is using this issue as a political stunt at the expense of renters in Seattle. Maybe they (unlike Grant) take their job seriously and want to find ways to help renters, not hurt them.


You didn't read what you wrote before you hit the button did you...
Grant lacks luster when the room isn't packed with Sawant supporters. But everyone knows that the Stranger will endorse Roderick anyhow, because the tired urbanist McGinn machine backs him due to his pro-developer stance. Why report on this race at all?
@14 , we're in an historic period of job growth where amazon alone just dumped 20k employees downtown over the past several years. Of course rents are going up, as there is no way the market can respond as fast to deliver new units. The fact that rents in buildings that were built prior to 2010 in Seattle only increased 5% annually in this environment is a good outcome; it would be much worse in SF. Blame amazon if you want, but it's not our housing policies at fault.
No smear. Look it's not personal. Valdez contributed his bits at Seattle transit blog. Slog has a slant so does Seattle transit blog. It's just back and forth chatter.

But at the end of the day, people are leaving this city because they can't afford to live here. First it was the poor, the retirees on fixed income, and the youngsters whose parents lived in their red line neighborhoods because that was were they were allowed to settle. Now their kids and grandkids are out in Kent and Federal Way. Lately, it has been the middle class feeling the pinch. Sure perhaps a transient, young, free spending, easily displaceable and replaceable population is ideal for developer's and big coporation delight.

However, IMO, to have a vibrant, thriving city, you need people to stay, make a home and create a livable, sustainable community. I like and value having the trash dudes, yard workers, teachers, line cooks, health care workers, bank tellers, retirees, and grocery clerks as my neighbors. Alongside IT, professional, and government workers. But I get it. That's my preference and if I don't like it, take a hike though not sure you can build a great city by showing its citizens the door when they don't have a fat wallet, outlive their usefulness, or are past their expiration date.

If this city was serious and value affordable housing truly, then it would at the very least kept its affordable housing units at par. Not losing these units and replacing them with fewer units. Apodments aren't the answer. Nor evidently is the constant building answering the need---…
Oh, who the fuck cares if they studied it or not? For one thing, it's been studied to death; it's a terrible policy that manifestly fails at producing affordable housing, except for a few winners of the time and place lottery (as long as they never need to move again). For another, Olympia isn't going to give us the option. Any discussion of it by HALA should be shot down, as there are plenty of things the city is legally permitted to do that work better and have fewer unintended negative consequences, and they focus on those, rather than wasting their time on this nonsense.
And, of course, anyone who can't see right through Grant (and other Seattle politicians touting rent control) is a complete moron. It's an easy, costless pander; it fools low information voters who rent into thinking this guy is on their side, but of course he (and other pro-rent control politicians) know it can't happen, so they don't have to run the risk of pissing off powerful interests and causing problems by actually voting for or passing the stupid policy. It's cheap and easy, but people who actually care about affordable housing who are cheering this crap along are getting played.
@2/15 you're full of crap. "most studied of any issue in all of economics"? Puh-leeze.
@20 - word.
@22, can you point to anything that I wrote that isn't true? Of course you can't. You're another one of those that Paul Krugman would describe as being desperate to maintain their obliviousness. Here's an article that he wrote that backs up what I wrote and does a pretty good job of describing people like you:…
"Rent control has in certain Western countries constituted, maybe, the worst example of poor planning by governments lacking courage and vision" --Gunnar Myrdal, socialist, member of the reality-based community, and architect of arguably the most successful social democracy the world has yet seen.
@24 Great article. Even better burn!
I want to unabashedly support Jon Grant. I really do. I think that his experience as a tenant's rights advocate would be great to have on the council. But I hate that he's doubling down on this non-starter rent control bullshit.
The rent control enthusiasts is too damn high!
Developers don't give a rats ass about rent control.

Landowners and Landlords do.

I don't understand all the developer hate. The developers aren't the ones who raised my rent and forced me out of 3 neighborhoods in a row. It was independent, landowning landlords.
@24 That Krugman article was from 2000. It's15 years old. And it's an opinion piece on San Francisco not a scientific survey of all rent control every where.

Berlin has forms of rent control they cycle in and out of. So does Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Many cities do all over the world.

And guess what? They work. These are the most livable cities in the world.

There are probably thousands of ways to implement rent controls. Not just one. And they shouldn't be permanent or just left in place without adjustments, reviews or repeals.

Yes. Tenants can game rent controls. So the fuck what?

Like billionaire developers and investment banks don't game the housing markets?

As is it stands now we rely on the mighty market and that also doesn't work. Giving developers total free reign is a disaster.

The idea that cities can merely build their way out of high rents by relying on egalitarian nature of developers is completely idiotic.

No growing city anywhere in the world has lowered rents by increasing housing inventory. No where. housing is a normal commodity. Supply and demand are not magical universal laws for every sector of the economy. Just like healthcare. Government is going to HAVE to interfere in the market.
Oops: housing is a normal commodity = housing is NOT a normal commodity.
@30 Berlin has seen it's average rent prices shoot up like 10% in the last year, something like 40% over the last 8 or 9 years Price caps in Berlin (from raising the rent over 10% of the average neighborhood price) went into enforcement TWO WEEKS AGO.

If anything, Berlin is in exactly the same bind as Seattle, and no time at all has passed to see if rent control will actually, you know, control the rent.

I didn't read the rest of your comment because your very first example was so totally flat out wrong.
@32 What the fuck are you talking about? That's the new price cap that went into effect.

Berlin had other price and zoning controls for over 40 years. They were part of post-war housing efforts. They were loosened mostly in the 1990's when Berlin was stagnant. Now Berlin is growing like crazy.

The term "rent control" is very broad. Only in the US do we think of it as price caps.

Berlin and Germany in general has some of the best most strictest tenants rights in Europe.

Read more here:…
@30, did I claim that the Krugman piece was a scientific study? I included it to show 22 that rent control is among the best understood and least controversial topics within economics. If you're looking for scientific studies, follow the links in 11 & 15.

You're claim that no growing city in the world has lowered rents by increasing supply is so incredibly wrong that it's laughable. A great long term example of the impact of land use policy and supply is Tokyo. Closer to home and more recent is the experience in DC in the past two years. This Bloomberg article gives a decent overview:…
@33 And yet Berlin, like Seattle, has had dramatic increases in rent prices. So what exactly is your point?

Let's totally disregard the new price caps. Has the rent control currently in place (for existing rather than new tenants) done anything at all to stop the skyrocketing rent in Berlin? No? Ok, thanks for proving my point!
@35 I said a GROWING city. Both Tokyo and DC went through job growth contractions. For fuck sake it was the second sentence in your article.

The only thing that lowers rents are market interference and/or economic contractions. Period.
@30: Rent control doesn't "work" in Germany, it's just pretty much harmless there. What works so well in Germany, and what makes it fairly unique, is an aggressive and efficient government strategy to ensure supply keeps ahead of demand for housing, including large-scale public housing and incentivized/subsidized private development. Rent control combined with that kind of policy is fine, but largely unnecessary. Sweden is a fine example of what happens if you don't aggressive attend to the supply of housing: the waiting period for an apartment is Stockholm averages about eight years.
@36 man. This is like whack-a-mole.

Berlin rolled back restrictions in the 1990's to encourage growth. They got growth. More than they could handle. So now they're trying price caps.

What? You think there's just one thing you do, clap your hands and walk away, and say "that's handled!" There is no fixed absolute one size fits all solution. Rent controls are not perfect. But neither is the market.

There are lots if cities that have no market restrictions and still have skyrocketing rents. Does that prove your "point," too?

Why must the bar on market restrictions be set so high that these laws have to be perfect. But the market itself goes without your same sence of skepticism.

It's the fucking market, how it games the system in reaction to any circumstance or ordinance we try, that causes rents to rise. But housing isn't like other commodities. People have to have places to live. It requires much more involvement in the market. That involvement can be a light touch. But sometimes a heavy hand is necessary.

This hysterical knee jerk against even trying tells me how threatening to wealthy interests even talking about rent controls must be. The second it comes up all the developer shills show up to AstroTurf. Which leads me to believe it's clearly the right course.
@37, Are you illiterate or more generally just stupid? The article very clearly states that job growth was 39,700 for the period.

It's sad that facts and data are so threatening to you. Not worth wasting my time with someone who is so firmly grounded in their own ignorance.
Oh fuck sake. from the first paragraph:

Washington is poised to be one of the only major U.S. cities with a decline in apartment rents this year after a surge in construction outpaced job growth

And later:
Washington is poised to be one of the only major U.S. cities with a decline in apartment rents this year after a surge in construction outpaced job growth, leaving the nation’s capital with a glut of properties.

The sequestration shrank the DC economy for nearly four years. The addional job growth was last quarter as sequestration cuts ended. The build outs were already planned before the bust and happened in the interim.

In fact the article went out n to say it was doubtful that rent decrease will outpace job growth.

You didn't even read your own article.

Dumb shit.
I'd like to give Ansel the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully we'll see a long-form analysis of the issue like the sort I remember from the 2007-2012 days.
There are at least a thousand different programs that are called "rent control". The fact that the HALA had a "conversation" tells me that they never seriously discussed it. Let me give you an example: Idiots like #10 above always tell us that landlords pay property taxes and include that in the rent they charge. That is true. It is also true that certain people are permitted reductions in real estate taxes in Washington State law. So if those people own a house, they get the reduction, but if they rent, they don't. Requiring landlords to give a proportionate rent reduction is a form of "rent control" which Ed and his minions refuse to consider. There are 999 more.
It is amazing how people can hate the government for failed policies and lack of action while begging for the government to control more of their lives. Rent control is a bad idea. Only those who are trying to get elected by people who actually think it means that they will get a cheap apartment downtown think it is a good idea. Sorry everyone the free apartment policy is closer to section eight or low income housing. Rent control is different.
@41, Wow, you are a profoundly stupid person. Job growth is growth. The city was growing, not shrinking. Are you honestly not able to comprehend that difference? The fact that an increase in supply that outpaces the growth in population has the effect of decreasing rents proves that just about everything that you've written above is fundamentally untrue.

You incorrectly claimed that "no growing city in the world has ever lowered rent by increasing supply". I gave you a concrete example. Just because you either don't understand the example or want to deny basic facts does not change the facts. Your entitled to your opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts.
@tkc: "Both Tokyo and DC went through job growth contractions. For fuck sake it was the second sentence in your article."

You're just making shit up. As CD Dawn notes, the article suggests housing growth outpaced job growth, not that job growth was negative. Your claim that the local economy was contracting at the time is not just a lie but an easily proved lie; I don't know why you'd think you'd get away with it. The pre-recession peak employment for DC was 310K in 2008, the bottom in mid-2009 was 303K. Employment hovered around 315K throughout 2010-11 and has been steadily growing since, now a 357K.

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