SEATTLE - A resolution asking state legislators to repeal a ban on rent control will not go to the full Seattle City Council with committee approval.
Members of the Committee on Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency were split 3-3 Thursday on the resolution spearheaded by Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant.
The only other yes vote to move it forward came from Councilmember Mike O'Brien.
Three others, Councilmembers Jean Godden, John Okamoto, and Tom Rasmussen, all who are not in the running for reelection, expressed concern about the resolution.
"I believe this resolution is false hope," Okamoto said, adding he believes councilmembers should look to recommendations already given by the Mayor's HALA committee, which came up with dozens of suggestions about how to make the city more affordable.
Rasmussen said the chances of state lawmakers giving local regulation control were "very, very slim" considering the make-up of the legislature. He also didn't agree with how the resolution's language.
"The language in this resolution is replete with support for rent control as being one of the key answers for affordable housing. We don't have that information," he said. "That's never been objectively brought to us. It is debatable."
The 3-3 vote means it's unclear what will happen to the resolution when it goes before the full council, most likely on October 5.
If the resolution did make it to Olympia, some say the ban is unlikely to be lifted.
Both chambers, the House and Senate, would have to pass a measure to change the statute banning rent control and those chambers are split between Republican and Democratic control.
"That's not going to happen, and that's not going to happen for a variety of reasons," said Rep. Matt Manweller, a Republican representing the 13th District. "There's not the votes to do it and it's a bad idea. The legislature is not in the business of passing laws to hurt people, and rent control has serious detrimental effects as proven by 60 years of academic and scientific research."
Dozens of people filled the Seattle Council chamber, the majority of whom wanted to see local regulation as an option.
"In my neighborhood, big corporations are buying up all of our apartment complexes, building new ones. Rentals are going sky high," said Jacqueline Silver, a West Seattle renter. "People from Amazon, Microsoft ... all the big corporations are moving into those apartments. Something has to be done to stabilize things."
The crowd booed other speakers when they disagree with the resolution. Colleen McAfter, who owns a condo, was one of them.
"I hate to tell you, but it costs money to provide a rental unit in Seattle," she said. "You have to pay the bills. You have to pay the taxes. You have to mortgage. After that you have to pay the repairs."
Licata told the committee rents are outpacing people's incomes. He said an unprecedented $3.8 billion in private money was spent buying buildings in the greater Seattle area. He said those are often being built for the "top of the market."
"If you do not have fair housing, you have low income people and minorities being pushed out of the city. That's the definition of unfair housing," he said. "We're not talking about eliminating the ability to rent housing and make a reasonable profit. What we're talking about is stopping rent gouging. What we're talking about is stopping rents from going up 25, 50, 100 percent."
Licata and Sawant made it clear that they still believe having the state lift the ban on rent control could provide additional discussions about how to make living in Seattle more affordable.
"Passing this resolution does not in any way restrict your ability to strictly advocate for the HALA recommendations," Sawant told councilmembers. "I think the political leadership that this body needs to show is not to endlessly stymie this process by saying 'the state won't do it' and all of us being locked into inaction."
KING 5's Natalie Brand contributed to this report.