Press Release: Seattle Rent Control Stunt Should Stay Dead
July 24, 2023
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Seattle Rent Control Stunt Should Stay Dead
OLYMPIA… This past Friday a Seattle City Council committee failed to approve an ordinance backed by Councilmember Kshama Sawant seeking to establish a flawed rent control policy in the city. Acknowledging that state law prohibits such a scheme, Sawant and proponents are still pushing for a full vote of the Council to create a massive local bureaucracyꟷthat would cap rents on new and existing housing unitsꟷwith a 42-person Commission made up of seven, six-member Boards to review rental prices and exemptions.
After the proposal failed by a 3-2 vote, the Washington Business Properties Association is asking that the council think twice about resurrecting it.
“We're pleased that the majority of members in that committee recognized the political antics and put the proposal down," said Chester Baldwin, CEO and Executive Director of the WBPA. “Not only has rent control never worked anywhere, proponents of this antiquated and failed idea are saying the quiet parts out loud - it's just a dog whistle to put pressure on state lawmakers."
Researchers recently modeled the impact of a rent cap in Seattle. Assuming a 7% annual cap showed that more than 20,000 units may not be built by 2030 and existing housing stock is at risk of falling into disrepair.
“Legislators knew 40 years ago that rent control wouldn't work and time has only proven that point," Baldwin said. “While some are stuck in the past, our organization and members are working toward solutions. Housing costs are skyrocketing because we aren't building enough units and regulatory costs supported by these same people add tens of thousands of dollars to the costs of projects. The City Council needs to send a message that they're serious about fixing our housing affordability crisis because any form of rent control will only make the problem worse."
The proposed ordinance would restrict rents to CPI-W (currently 3.6%) but not less than zero. The report indicates that more than 45,000 housing units in Seattle are considered vulnerable as operating costs grow but the ability of housing providers to provide adequate maintenance shrinks.
In addition, the study shows that financial impacts are staggering for the City with losses of $5 million in property tax revenue every year and possibly $50 million in lost sales tax revenue.