Great article, and timely series, Rich! One thing:

"Crucially, the statewide scope of the bill allowed supporters to deflect arguments from rural lawmakers about rent hikes only [effecting] the big cities".

*Affecting, and here I'm gonna advocate for my idea of spelling both words "ffecting", which can be flexible in pronunciation, and covers all our asses.


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.)

Rent control was initially enacted in my city in Los Angeles to keep long-term residents from being priced out if the city. But the state legislature eventually bowed to the real estate lobby and eradicated even the possibility of rent control in the state.

And prices went wild in Los Angeles.

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 like my neighbors who ate paying double and triple my rent -- pricing which then often drives them out.

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

He recently did upgrades in the apartments of us long term, stable lower rent tenants -- but then again we save the landlord time and money.

Not as expensive, trendy, kitchen appliances and decoration as he's forced to do to get the inflated rents for the higher priced apartments -- but still, nice livable upgrades for us long-term, lower rent stable tenants.)


There isn't enough housing. Build more housing. Why are we determined to do such a complicated thing to solve a fairly simple problem? This is clearly an issue with a supply that's being, in my opinion, artificially constrained in order to secure higher profits for developers, financiers and landlords.

Cities must build residential housing. They should build everything up to high-end luxury housing. Private developers loath making "affordable" housing. It's simply not profitable. This is a great place for the City to step in and solve this problem. Private developers can still build hundred-million-dollar condos and 6600 sqft mansions in Medina. Plenty of money to be made there.

Build more housing. Rents will go down. Home prices will go down. No rent control/stabilization/complex legislation/bullshit needed. Side benefit: more construction jobs in the city!


@6 Your logic is unassailable. The market will not produce adequate transportation infrastructure, so we socialize it. The market will not provide effective protection from fires, so we socialize that. And the market is not producing sufficient housing so this too should be socialized.

That leaves the practical matter of authorizing the agency and raising the capital to do the job. It would be an immense project, requiring a ton of energy and political imagination. And it would face savage resistance from all the usual suspects. Its hardly surprising that no politician is going to make this kind of effort for the sake of the kinds of people who rent their housing.


If the Baby Boomers refuse to allow us to avail of the same things that they took advantage of- low cost college in their youths, affordable housing and unions- then I say we take the one good idea that generation ever came up with and put it into practice-

Logan’s Run.


Thanks for the deep dive, Rich.


"victories". Ha.


All 3 articles mention a lack of supply.
I can't stress enough, how well Captalism
works, as long as it is ALLOWED to work.

Seattle needs Land Owners competing for Tenants, not Tenants competing for housing.
We also need parking spaces, even if they end
as sub-lets, or turned into fenced storage.

But, our City Council continues to play the
wrong game. We need them to choose which
games are allowed to be played in Seattle.



Oregon also put in place that the rules regarding rent do not apply to new buildings. They only apply to buildings 15 years or older. It makes no sense. So Seattle could pass a similar law and it would affect very few people considering the rate they are ripping down old buildings and putting up new particle board boxed buildings.


@ 13 - the problem is the market has zero interest in making housing for lower income types. Everybody wants amholes making 150k straight out of college. Eventually, sure, there will be a trickle down effect that helps lower income folks. But it generally involves living in substandard housing or a 1-2hr commute. Sometimes not even that - many of the massive 'luxury' apartment structures in Seattle are sitting at 70-80% occupancy and they're ok with that if it means keeping rents up.


The market sucks when it comes to efficiently providing housing for economically diverse communities. It only balances out a bit when you introduce government incentives (ie, tax breaks/MFTE) that are very much the opposite of a free market.


@15 - part of that problem is that the relatively small areas zoned for apartments means that the cost of multi-family land is even higher than it should be. This means that developers have a hard time making less expensive housing pencil out. We need to zone much more of the city for at least medium density housing, and encourage construction of more affordable places on it.

But what Seattle REALLY needs is some public housing. There are a lot of people who are never going to afford even relatively modest rents, and if we are serious about wanting them to live in the City it is time for a public option. Capping rents so that the entire burden of providing cheap housing falls on landlords is unfair and ineffective.

Rich, in terms of "what we learn" from OR and CA, I'd suggest you come back in 5 years and see what really happens in their housing markets.


"But what Seattle REALLY needs is some public housing. There are a lot of people who are never going to afford even relatively modest rents, and if we are serious about wanting them to live in the City it is time for a public option. Capping rents so that the entire burden of providing cheap housing falls on landlords is unfair and ineffective." ---dvs99

Brilliant (gold star!) comment.

"Oregon's state capitol is kinda cute!"
It is 'cute,' if you like a little Brutalism.
Say, isn't that Matt Groening perched atop?


@8 Okay Millennial.
The Boomers also lived through 12% inflation, 13% mortgage interest rates, and 11% unemployment. Should we make that happen too?


More restrictive legislation creates more risk, screening criteria becomes more restrictive, reduces units marketed to general public, reduces diversity. Antithetical to a robust affordable housing market.


@17 Cities are in the business of whatever we say they are, because we are the Cities. Of, for and by the people, remember? We get to do whatever we want, and I guarantee if everyone woke up tomorrow and said, "God damn! We need the city to build us some more houses!" we would build them.

I'll compromise with you. I won't insist the city build fast food restaurants, or book stores or art galleries when we have the city build housing. Now we both get what we want.

Government has 1 responsibility: public health. Housing is a public health issue. There isn't enough housing. How do I know that? Because we have homeless people living in tents on the sidewalks and because the median rent is higher than the median wage can support.

Build more housing. It's so fucking simple.


@26 If the city council abolished SFH zoning this afternoon, how long do you think it would take before we saw a substantial increase in multi-family low income housing in the formerly SFH zones?


@24 I’m not a Boomer.
And all of the Millennials I know do drive. Nice assumptions though.

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