Olympia Dispatch

State Will Uphold Its Ban on Rent Control

Nicole Macri's bill to repeal the state ban failed to make it out of committee on Friday.

By Hayat Norimine February 5, 2018

Rent control affordable housing kshama sawant sokp8s

State representative Nicole Macri's bill that would have repealed the ban on rent control died in committee on Friday.

Activists who want to see rent control enacted in Seattle packed the public hearing last month, optimistic that a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate gave them a better chance this year. State law currently makes it illegal for local jurisdictions to implement rent control. 

Still, city officials Monday morning said this year's attempt showed the movement gained momentum on the state level. 

"Given the gridlock on this issue for so long in the Legislature, the fact that it was heard in both chambers is a remarkable achievement," said Lily Wilson-Codega, acting director of the city's Office of Intergovernmental Relations, during the council briefing Monday. 

Rent control in Washington state has been illegal since 1981. But supporters are pointing to the housing shortage in the state and arguing for local cities to make their own policy decisions when it comes to regulations by removing the preemption on rent control.

Opponents in Olympia say rent control only reduces the housing supply, therefore increasing costs and accomplishing the opposite of what it's intended to do—help provide affordable housing options. 

Council member Kshama Sawant said while the bill didn't move forward, she believes the advocacy made a difference this year. 

"There were many people who were asking, 'When was the last time we talked about it?'" Sawant said Monday morning. "I think it could have quite a bit of an impact."

Updated 10:56am on February 6, 2018, to hyphenate Wilson-Codega's name and clarify a quote.

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