Friends and Neighbors
Are there any affordable apartments left in Seattle? We won't know unless we get the data.
Seattle Fair Growth is urging emails by Friday July 1st to overturn Mayor Harrell's veto of a bill that would provide the amount of rent and number of bedrooms on every rental apartment in Seattle. The City Council voted 5-4 to pass the ordinance, with Councilmembers Sara Nelson, Debora Juarez, Teresa Mosqueda, and Dan Strauss opposed. If just one of them changes their vote, a 6-3 vote would overturn the veto.
Please email email@example.com with your request for reconsideration and copy the Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can, please call your Councilmember after you've written. Do this before Friday, July 1st, since that vote would be July 5th!
You can't manage what you can't measure. Councilmember Alex Pedersen sponsored CB 120325 because the City needs timely, reliable data on what rental housing is affordable and where, by zip code. This is the first step in fighting displacement and should be part of this year's Comprehensive Plan update. Yet the City has no definition of "affordable. It is in the eye of the beholder. When Dupre+Scott ceased operation, we lost the only reliable data we had. How can we expect the City to solve its housing crisis without an inventory?
Unfortunately, the Mayor relied on a letter from a Real Estate industry think tank at the UW, citing a cost of $2M to $5M and landlords' concern for proprietary data. However, other potential vendors estimate the cost of collecting this data as under $500,000. That's "budget dust" in a budget of more than $1.5 billion. If this isn't a priority, what is?
Concern for proprietary data that is advertised regularly on Craig's List is questionable. Adding a few fields (number of bedrooms, square footage, rent, date) to the Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) database that already includes every rental apartment's address cannot be as expensive as the industry source claimed. "Similar laws to collect the data are already in place throughout the nation," CM Pedersen said.
There is no excuse for failure to collect data on rents as we make policies presuming to provide affordability. Having this data by zip code will allow the City to build a model of its housing stock, to better plan infrastructure investment and to move forward with policies to prevent displacement wherever it is occurring, especially in BIPOC communities.
Seattle Fair Growth urges you to forward this letter or, better, to pick a few ideas and write your own. Either way, please do it now, so city planners will no longer be flying blind without a map of affordability and a plan to avoid displacement.
Seattle Fair Growth
Jon Lisbin, President
Sarajane Siegfriedt, Treasurer