1. Yesterday morning, during the city lobbying team's weekly update to city council on Seattle's agenda in Olympia, council member Kshama Sawant wanted to know how her 2015 campaign pledge for rent control was going. "I'm wondering if you’d done any advocacy with some of the legislators that we know have shown interest," Sawant said after reminding the lobbying squad that the council had put rent control on its priority list, "like senator [Pramila] Jayapal or speaker [Frank] Chopp...you know they’ve both spoken about it."
The update? The city was working with state representative Jessyn Farrell (D-46, North Seattle) on a bill that would tweak the infamous RCW that bans cities from regulating rents by allowing cities statewide to enforce a 90-day notice on big rent increases. (Seattle currently has a 60-day rule that landlords have never tried to challenge in court.)
“I appreciate that,” Sawant said, “but I’d also appreciate it if you—on behalf of the council and the priorities we have adopted—if you would also have specific conversations about what interest there is in repealing the ban on rent control.”
Farrell’s bill, originally proposed by former council member Nick Licata three years ago, also gives cities the right to make landlords pay tenant relocation assistance if landlords violate guidelines on paying the relocation costs; currently cities can only fine the landlords for breaking the rule, but can’t make them cover the displaced tenant’s costs.
Jasmin Weaver, the city’s lobbying shop deputy director, told Sawant she’d asked Farrell to reach out to Sawant and council member Herbold (who’s picked up her former boss Licata’s fight for the rent increase reform bill)
“We reached out to representative Farrell last week…and my understanding is that she’s going to be reaching out to [about her own 90-day notice bill]…I think we mentioned both you and council member Herbold as people she should reach out to as she moves forward with a press conference.”
At that, Sawant made a last ditch attempt for rent control, concluding, “maybe not in this session….but going forward I think it will be important.”
2. Speaking of the city's legislative agenda in Olympia: A bill supported by city attorney Pete Holmes and mayor Ed Murray for a pilot project in Seattle that would allow five of the current 20 licensed marijuana shops to make home deliveries got a hearing in the house commerce committee yesterday. Illegal delivery services, estimated at 24 operations, are undermining the success of the legal recreational pot industry created by I-502, the city says.
Holmes said: “The goal of I-502 was to create a legal system for producing, processing and selling marijuana to adults in Washington state. I support our proposals to legalize and regulate marijuana delivery, but businesses that currently deliver marijuana undermine our efforts to demonstrate that there is a regulatory alternative to marijuana prohibition. All current delivery services are engaged in nothing less than the felony distribution of a controlled substance and must be closed.”
The bill only affects Seattle. The local industry isn't 100 percent behind the bill, though. They worry that giving delivery to some stores and not others gives a few handpicked stores a competitive advantage.
3. Another Seattle bill—it was proposed by mayor Murray—would let cities give tax breaks to landlords who set aside 25 percent of their property for low-income families (people earning less than 50 to 60 percent of area median income—$36,000 to $43,000.)
The bill, which had a hearing in the human services committee this week, is being cosponsored by Seattle state senator David Frockt (D-46, North Seattle). There are six Democratic cosponsors and one important Republican on board too, the sponsor, state senator Joe Fain (R-47, Federal Way.)
The Republicans control the senate and Fain is the floor leader.