This is your case against rent control? the same old trope, rent control does not work because it is not strict enough. Welcome to State journalism, Sawant and Friends.


I was really interested to read the article based on the headline. (Hey, that's the benefit of good headline writing.) And Rich did make some of the cases that are made against rent control, and sited some sources which was great. Unfortunately, he couldn't help but swing the narrative back to the benefits of rent control. It seems that more balanced reporting, which based on the headline this was an attempt to be, would be to conclude that there is a lot of gray on both sides of this argument. So instead of actually encouraging further discussion and research by voters, it merely lets us believe what we already believe. I lived in New York with the realities of rent control and saw a lot of negative elements. So I get upset when I hear so many on the City Council seeing this as a necessary solution. It sounds good on paper and in a speech, but the realities of it are foggy at best. So I applaud Rich for going down this path, and the Stranger for running it, but I believe if fell a little short on "The case against rent control."


@2 yeah this is a stock standard rhetorical figure that gets employed by the ideologically pure when reality conflicts with their worldview.

My favorite example of it is when it is pointed out to stringent libertarians that all attempts at strictly libertarian states have failed in extremely short order. Their argument is always "wasn't pure enough."

Of course all data opposes this understanding, and considering current data, the statement wasn't pure enough is totally unfalsifiable. It is simply a priori speculation that is given precedence over what is real and has actually been experienced, because "my belief is that."

When Smith sees the other side doing this, he roasts them on a spit for conducting faux social science. But for himself it's always fair game. He's an unrestricted ideologue posing as a rational pundit. But of course we know this about him, and I do think he is certainly quite effective, so in a weird way I respect his ability to leverage opinion. I think the guy seems either fundamentally opposed to making a buck, or fundamentally too lazy to step up to the competition and grind for it. But I would hire him as a PR guy in a second, or to run a political campaign, or anything really in that vein.


The Stranger is the propaganda arm of the Socialist Alternative group, and it's primary spokesperson, Kshama Sawant.

Look forward to many more nonsensical and hilariously slanted lies from the paper about this topic, until Socialist Alternative gives Sawant new marching orders.


There's an article in the Olympian showing that freeloading landlords move to Thurston County due to lack of regulation (rather than homeless people moving here for services)

"Retiree Cindy Larsen owns six rental units in Olympia that she says barely break even. Larsen moved to Washington from California in late 2017 with plans to invest in rental properties to supplement her income.

She chose Olympia in part for its lack of regulations on rentals. But that could change soon."


Not going to care about free market dogma until the same free marketeers introduce ordinances to eliminate single family housing zones -- or even relent their entrenched opposition to mere accessory dwelling units -- and ordinances to eliminate taxpayer suppled free and below market rate parking, an housing unit minimum parking requirements.

None of these people have any faith in free market economics. They pretend they do, if you're talking about rent control or minimum wage or free college. But free parking? Corporate subsidies? Regulation to insulate homeowners from the free market? Then suddenly they never heard of the free market.

Not credible. Opposition to rent control is nothing more than the privileged protecting their privilege. If they can be selfish, why can't everyone else?


@11 MORE OF THIS. This rent control discussion is fine and important in a small way. But the real issue is the intentional ban on building more than one home per lot on the vast majority of our city. Then being surprised that there aren't enough homes.


@8 Fair point.


Seattle's unemployment went down after the minimum wage became $15 per hour. Inflation was rising faster before $15 per hour, and slowed after. Seattle's crime is at a 40-year low. The skyline is filled with cranes and the cities greatest challenges are of affluence, gentrification, inequality, and growth. Only boomers in the suburbs who haven't set foot in Seattle in decades think it's a wasteland. The US is full of business friendly, unregulated cities, and they're shitholes, with declining life expectancy that don't create any wealth. The welcome mat at Houston or Kansas City is out, if anybody is thirsty for that sweet, sweet Republican capitalism.

Here's how you know a city has become a wasteland: rents start going DOWN, not spiraling up. Pretty basic shit, Professor Economics. But do go on with your lecture...


I've seen San Francisco (and Bay Area) rent control from both sides - tenants who stayed in units for decades, paying a fraction of free market rates, even though they weren't poor,
and landlords forced to pay over $10K to bad tenants to get them to leave.
The fairest solution seems to be income-based subsidies- landlords get near market rates, and entry level workers aren't squeezed to death. Of course, overseeing and enforcing this is another matter.


How about this solution, pay your own fucking bills?


Also, bear in mind a reason apartments are converted to condos has nothing to do with rental pricing or availability.
Rental units are easier to build than condos, and developers face reduced legal liability when renting apartments (as opposed to selling new condominiums).
Then after several years of operation, the rental units are sold, and the developer and managing firm get their profit, and are done.


I just had an apostrophe!


@21 This is true. But the reason for it is mostly cheaper housing. This has a feedback effect because you can grow an economy just by adding people to it. I don't know how they make housing cheaper in Texas - lots of cheap land, maybe? So its a kind of weird irony to compare those places to Seattle in the context of a thread about rent control (i.e. creating cheaper housing.)

Also, the big four metros in Texas all have Democrat mayors. Last I checked, biggest city in America with a Republican mayor was Jacksonville Florida.


Corporate Media = Normalization


So why are rich renters choosing not to waste 50 percent of their income on rent when they can comfortably live on 10 percent instead a bad thing?

Who says it needs to be that high?

Other than rich landlords trying to gouge the public and become billionaires and run for President?


Oh and @11 hits the nail on the head.


Having lived under rent control for nearly 40 years in first New York City and now Los Angeles, I know firsthand the pros and cons.

Pros for me include being able to pursue a creative career and now live on a scanty retirement.

Cons include the sketchy neighborhoods in the past and a slew of biopolar Section 8s the landlady seeded the building with (most of whom were fine, if creating constant drama -- but a couple were nightmare psychos who made Trump appear sane, and created a Trumpian world the other tenants had to live in.)

Then, the state legislature bowed to the real estate lobby and eradicated even the possibility of rent control in the state.

There was a prop on the last ballot to offer areas the opportunity to create rent control, if they wanted it.

I'm still grandfathered in, but despite vague, scare ads on the internet (sound familiar?) I voted FOR rent control options for you younger folks.

(So screw you, "Okay Boomers.")

However, only 30% voted positively to bring back the possibility of rent control -- and every younger than me complaining about high rents I've talked to, didn't bother to vote in that election.

I'll continue to vote for that possibility for the rest of you (probably, despite the "Okay, Boomer" pieces in the progressive blogosphere.)

But if you won't help yourselves, there's not much I can do about it.


(By the way, there are also pros for the landlords: seeding the rent controlled building with Section 8s, was the way the landlady got "full market value" rents from the Federal gov.

And she sold the building for a tidy profit.

The new landlord was going to attempt to (illegally) evict the remaining rent-control and Section 8 tenants: until he realized the turnover, upkeep and upgrades in the high rent apartments was costing him a pretty penny.)


"Expanding subsidies wide enough to meet the need, however, would be expensive," Yes, it would. I don't see how you can note that it would be expensive even for society as a whole and not consider that it would be REALLY expensive if you forced a small group of property owners to shoulder the burden.


"That is, landlords bank on public investments such as parks, transit hubs, good schools, and beautification projects, which are paid for by everybody. And yet renters are getting taxed twice—once for paying for all that infrastructure, and then again for living close to it. In that context, evening out the playing field with rent stabilization seems just."

This argument makes no sense. Homeowners who live near that infrastructure are taxed for living near it, too, if it truly does increase their property values (if it justifies higher rents, then we'd expect it to also increase property values). Renters are not being "taxed," but they are paying more to live in a nicer area with more amenities, just like homeowners would. I don't see how this makes the playing filed "unlevel" in any sense.


This entire article is an argument for rent control, not against it. The arguments made against it are half-hearted and then are rebutted. Most forms of rent control are terrible. They result in housing shortages, horrendous architecture (I.e bad places to live in and sad-looking neighborhoods), and residents getting trapped into their current living situation. Instead, let’s build (subsidized and not) way too many units and watch rents fall. Seattle’s problem is not SF’s. SF is nimby-land and builds less than 10% of the amount of housing needed to stabilize rents. Seattle is building enough and rents are stabilizing. Once we have a recession they will fall, and if we then step in with subsidized construction, they will stay lower even when the recession ends. A vote for (most forms of) rent control is a vote to keep housing stock lower and therefore keep people out of our city. Thats not what we want in Seattle.


@11 is spot-on with the nimby single family zoning. Anyone who supports the existing zoning in this city while also being against rent control is the worst.


@21 What a dumb comparison, considering Texas is almost 4 times as big and has almost 4 times the population of Washington. Gee, why doesn’t a state with 7.5 million people have as many large metro areas as a state with almost 30 million people???!?


While it's fair to make arguments on both sides of the rent control argument, you should also point out that in various surveys of economists, the majority will say that rent controls have a negative impact on the quantity and quality of affordable housing. About 80% - 90% depending on the survey. There is also plenty of evidence to back them up.

Of course, you can say that in theory, rent controls can be implemented in such a way that they will provide a net benefit. However, who here thinks our city government is competent enough to succeed where so many others have failed?


Texas can have unlimited sprawl because cities are not constrained by anything (lakes, oceans, mountains). Housing fills up, build another ring of it farther out.


@39 Not plenty of room for sprawl in LA. It's all sprawlled up already, to the point of people commuting vast distances. LA's actually a great example of what happens eventually when you constrain people from building up but not out, and there's not much geographical boundaries to stop you.

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