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 35.321.830.
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.