Seattle City Council Member Licata on Affordable Housing (updated to include Sawant’s response)

From his newsletter:

Licata lauds City Council passage of resolution in support of lifting state ban on limiting rent increases

The City Council did the right thing by passing a resolution (8-1, Okamoto) in support of local control of rent regulation, and asking the state legislature to lift the ban on cities limiting rent increases. The Council also requested that the Office of Intergovernmental Relations incorporate this position into the City’s forthcoming 2016 State Legislative agenda.

This resolution closely mirrors Resolution 31590, sponsored by Councilmember Sawant and myself, previously discussed in the Housing, Human Services and Economic Development last week. Both resolutions call for repealing or modifying RCW 35.21.830.

In a highly unusual move, the resolution was introduced for a vote at the same meeting, when exiting legislation on the same subject was being considered in committee. I can’t recall another instance in my time on the Council where this has happened. My resolution, co-sponsored by Councilmember Sawant, received a split vote with three in support and three opposed in the Housing Committee.

The pressure from citizens being pushed out not only their apartments, but often out of Seattle in search of affordable housing, filled the council chambers to capacity on more than one occasion. They changed the attitude of councilmembers.

The new resolution clearly adopts the core request of the original legislation, asking the state legislature modify or repeal RCW 35.21.830, which would allow cities to propose and pass legislation to protect tenants from sudden and dramatic rent increases. The repeated turnout of citizens asking the council to do something about our housing crises brought about this victory.

I’d like to thank Lisa Herbold from my office for her collaborative work on this, which set the stage for passage. I’d also like to thank Eric Dunn of the Northwest Justice Project, and Jon Grant, former director of the Tenant’s Union, for bringing this issue to the Council.

Update: Sawant’s response:

Kshama Sawant: “City Council Tells Olympia – Repeal the Ban on Rent Control!”

SEATTLECouncilmember Kshama Sawant released the following statement after Council adopted a resolution today that asks Olympia to lift the ban on rent regulation:

“I welcome passage of this rent control resolution as a huge victory for our grassroots movement for housing affordability.  Thirty five years after the state legislature sold out to big landlords by banning all rent regulation, the City Council has been forced to take a historic action, officially urging the repealing of the ban.

“Just days ago several of my fellow Councilmembers opposed the resolution from Councilmember Licata and me, which is substantively the same as what they supported today.

“Why is this happening now? The majority of this Council has been in office for years and has failed to act on housing affordability. This key victory is a product of the pressure our movement has brought to bear.

“The real estate lobby, the Rental Housing Association, and big developers are scared by our movement, so they want this resolution to disappear into oblivion. Our movement’s goal is exactly the opposite. We need to use the resolution to build real pressure on Olympia.”

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