In an inspiring triumph of the human spirit, yesterday small mom-and-pop housing providers – the unsung heroes of this city of woefully ungrateful renters – banded together to stand up to the tyranny of the City Council. These housing providers, including one “third-generation minority housing provider,” spoke truth to the power that has slowly made gouging renters more difficult, destroying the once fruitful profession of home-owning.
“You guys made a ‘housing crisis’ into a ‘housing chaos,’ and I’m going to quit, and I’m selling, and that’s all thanks to you. Thank you. Bye bye,” said one “small housing provider,” who finally crumbled under the council’s pro-renter agenda after 40 years in the lung-clogging mines of passive income generation.
Based on the public comments made during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, an average person could have reasonably concluded that Councilmember Kshama Sawant had proposed an ordinance to banish landlords to the gulag. But, no, the object of the landlords’ ire was the fallen savior of landed-people, Councilmember Alex Pedersen, who proposed saddling these selfless providers with the “undue burden” of twice annually reporting information such as the size and price of their “naturally occurring affordable housing.” O, the humanity.
Pedersen would never intentionally piss off landlords. He spoke carefully to his base, acknowledging the difficulties of “absorbing” new renter protections. He assured the landlords that he was not using his bill as a Trojan horse for rent control, but rather as a way to collect data to bolster the argument that they play an important role as providers of “naturally occurring affordable housing,” an argument landlords will make over and over again to counter upzone demands as the city deliberates its comprehensive plan.
The council ultimately voted 5-4 to pass the bill. Not only was the council more divided than usual, but the votes didn’t split neatly between conservative and progressive factions.
Pedersen’s conservative allies, landlord-whisperer Councilmember Sara Nelson and Council President Debora Juarez voted no. Juarez said she voted no primarily because it would put yet another stress on the Office of Planning and Community Development and the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections.
Nelson, on the other-hand, sided with the angry landlords. “I don’t support singling out a group of business owners to generate the data that we'll be using to make [comprehensive plan] decisions,” she said.
Councilmember Dan Strauss, a swing vote for progressives and conservatives, also voted no.
Not even the staunch progressives agreed on this bill. Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda voted no due to budget concerns.
Pedersen’s bill did garner support from Councilmembers Andrew Lewis, Lisa Herbold, and Tammy Morales. Lewis has been middle-of-the-road lately, Herbold tends to vote progressive on renter’s issues, and Morales would be the most pro-renter member of the bunch if not for the lone socialist on council, Kshama “Build-a-Fighting-Movement-for-Rent-Control-Now” Sawant. Though Sawant also supported the bill, in a moment of horseshoe theory she suggested the data would better support her point that landlords were screwing over their tenants.
“It is pretty ironic that in public comment landlords have simultaneously claimed that they charge low rent and also objected to actually disclosing the rent they charge. It’s not clear at all why it would be a burden to simply report the rent you are already charging. You’re already doing the paperwork,” she said.