Not that it really ever went anywhere, but the ideological alliance between realtor groups and cops appears to remain strong as ever under the leadership of Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan and Seattle-King County Realtors association lobbyist David Crowell.
On Monday Solan delivered a presentation to members of the association of realtors at the organization's invitation. Chavi Hohm, a Team Diva realtor at Coldwell Banker Bain who attended the meeting, said SPOG's president made some questionable claims about racism and policing, and also about the relationship between Seattle protests and property values.
According to Hohm, during his 30-minute chat Solan issued the same fear-mongering claims he's always issuing, but he retooled them for an audience of realtors.
Russell Hokanson, CEO of the association, said he didn't have a recording of the meeting, but Hohm remembered Solan arguing the following:
• Black Lives Matter protests themselves are reducing property values, and any attempt to shrink the police department's budget will reduce home values further due to the potential for slower emergency response times. Also, people are leaving the city due to protests.
• BLM protesters will tell you policing is about race, but race has nothing to do with it.
• Insurance companies won't want to sell homeowners insurance to people who own houses where BLM protests occur regularly.
• BLM activists want to "take private property and give it to Indians."
• Members of the realtor associations should “run and fund more ‘police-friendly’ council members."
Hokanson responded to my request for comment from Crowell and didn't specifically address my request to confirm that Solan made these points.
I've written to two other meeting attendants to ask if their recollection of these points match Hohm's, and I'll update if there are any discrepancies.
I've also written to Solan and I will update this post if I hear back from him.
In the meantime, taking these points a little out of order, Hohm said the majority of realtors in the virtual room didn't live in Seattle, and so it was a little rich to encourage them to participate heavily in the city's politics.
That said, the realtors association obviously doesn't need much encouragement to back more conservative Seattle City Council candidates. In 2019, they endorsed all the losers and Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Debora Juarez.
And if the daily/nightly protests are depressing home values in Seattle, Hohm said her "top-producing team" isn't taking much of a hit. Hohm said her team had "no problem" selling two condos a little over a block away from the former perimeter of the CHOP, one of which they sold shortly after a police officer was caught on film rolling his bicycle over the head of a protester.
"My goal this year was to make $1.5 million. We're closing out the year with $1.8 million. So that's $300,000 we weren't expecting to make, and I don't think we're alone," she said.
However, in a Redfin survey Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reported on, 23% of Biden voters and 39% of Trump voters said protests in their area have made them "want to move away" from where they live or change plans of where they want to move to. If people still feel that way, Seattle's still-hot housing market and other data suggests that many aren't acting out on that impulse.
Hohm also said she's never heard of insurance companies denying homeowners insurance due to the number of protests in a given area, though insurers may decide to think twice before offering riot protection as part of their policies in the future. After all, we are talking about an industry that started pulling out of places in eastern Washington that have seen more intense wildfires recently.
An overwhelming amount of evidence points to systemic racism in policing, but hearing Solan suggest otherwise is no surprise. His refusal to admit that structural racism exists in law enforcement led members of the Martin Luther King Labor Council to vote to expel the police union from their ranks over the summer.
There may be a bit of telephone going on here, but I think Solan's description of BLM activists wanting to take private property and give it to Native Americans originated with a post Jason Rantz published on Monday.
In the post, Rantz suggested that BLM activists who seek reparations and a restoration of lands lost might learn from the more mannered approach of Moorish Sovereign Citizens, who have been walking around Edmonds and asking people to leave their homes so they can live there instead. I don't know who these Moorish Sovereign Citizens are, but, in fairness, the Duwamish say the U.S. violated the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855 and failed to uphold any of their promises, so it's not like the tribe wouldn't have a case to make. Meanwhile, the demands that emerged from organizations such as King County Equity Now involve handing over "underutilized public land" and combating gentrification, not taking private land and giving it to the tribes who have lived here since time immemorial.
In any event, judging from the realtor association's September 2020 lobbying report, Solan seemed largely to be preaching to the choir. The group listed the protests among its major lobbying challenges, claiming the demonstrations have created a dynamic that has "constrained policy discussions to a very narrow range of progressive and often irresponsible actions among a very narrow group of public voices and constituents." (I foresee daily marchers and participants in autonomous horizontal protest venues tattooing that quote on their foreheads.)
And during the meeting, the realtor association's Southend housing specialist, Sam Pace, teed up Solan to talk about SPOG's initiative with a hilariously precise leading question: "Is there an initiative in the works that would require local governments to adopt plans to deal with law breaking at protests, requiring the plans be implemented, and giving crime victims a cause of action against cities that don't implement the plans," Pace asked, clearly knowing very well that the cops had proposed the initiative.
Back in October, the realtors also invited Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht to discuss the potential impact of King County Charter Amendments 5 and 6 on the real estate market. That meeting led to Solan's invitation, Hokanson said.
The realtor's association plans "to continue exploring this topic and studying the trends in the housing market," Hokanson added, pointing back to the Redfin survey as evidence that something may be going on around here.
"We rely on the observations of our members about market trends, and we encourage all points of view regarding issues that have a potential impact on the housing market," he continued.