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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Capping Condo Conversions

posted by on February 7 at 9:53 AM

An effort by the Seattle Displacement Coalition, the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, and the Puget Sound Alliance for Senior Citizens to regulate condo conversions is getting traction in Olympia.

In addition to provisions such as increasing relocation assistance for tenants and prohibiting landlords from starting interior construction until the last tenant is out, which the advocates had gotten into an initial senate bill, they’ve now gotten co-sponsors Sens. Adam Kline, Ken Jacobsen, and Ed Murray (all from Seattle) to add language that would allow cities to limit the number of condo conversions.

Seattle had 2,352 condo conversions last year—a 450% increase since 2004. The result, according to the Displacement Coalition: the loss of 3,900 lower-priced rentals in Seattle in the last two years. Indeed, the average price of new condos is $250,000.

As I reported last week, the advocates were also trying to get a bill going in the house (that would include the conversion-cap idea along with the conversion guidelines in the original senate bill), but Seattle-area house Reps. Jamie Pedersen and Mary Lou Dickerson gave them the cold shoulder.

Well, last night they announced they got Seattle-area liberals Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37) and Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D-11) along with Rep. Phyllis Kenney (D-46) to co-sponsor a comprehensive bill in the house.

Oh, and the house bill’s prime sponsor? Edmonds-area liberal Rep. Maralyn Chase (D-32).

RSS icon Comments


why not include a rider that acts like the 1% for art building about 2% for mass transit, on each condo built or converted? I think it is so stupid that we are creating density BEFORE getting transportation in place. Think of the benefit if this were in place.

Posted by acuteally | February 7, 2007 10:02 AM

Gee, no conflict of interest between Jamie's employer K&L Gates (yes, he STILL works for them) and this bill, is there? Oh, and Milgard Windows is a client of Jamie's. I doubt they'd like to see a conversion cap.

I can't believe he "represents" the 43rd. Thanks Stranger and Ed Murray!

Posted by DOUG. | February 7, 2007 10:12 AM

Uh Doug, the Stranger endorsed Stephanie Pure.

Posted by J.R. | February 7, 2007 10:16 AM

Ahh. The Displacement Coalition. They're a nice bunch of people working to solve genuine problems in Seattle, but a lot of their "successes" have backfired badly. Remember how they stopped the Seattle Commons park, thus preserving the South Lake Union neighborhood for low income housing? Yeah...

Condo conversion could be capped, but another way to slow it down would be to find a solution to condo association lawsuits against builders. The way the law works now is that the builders of new condominiums may be sued for construction deficiencies for up to seven years after a building is finished. However, if you convert an old building (or an apartment building that's eight years old) you can avoid the lawsuits. Many new apartments are planned as condo conversions from the beginning.
I don't know a really slick solution to this problem, because I don't believe that you should take away condo buyers right to sue for construction deficiencies. I'm just pointing out this is the reason there are so many conversions in Washington.

Posted by Sstarr | February 7, 2007 10:25 AM

Uh, J.R., the Stranger's "final three" was Pure, Street and Pedersen. They gave Jamie some credibility over better candidates like Bill Sherman and Dick Kelley.

The only "bad" press Pedersen got from The Stranger was Dan Savage's inoncuous catcalls.

Posted by DOUG. | February 7, 2007 10:38 AM

Im glad Sharon Tomiko Santos (37th) is doing the right thing here. I wish she would do the right thing regarding the predatory lenders. I can not beleive she is supporting douchebag Kirby's watered down bill.

Posted by SeMe | February 7, 2007 11:12 AM

Sstarr, how does that explain the recent >400% increase in conversions? Condo construction lawsuits have been common for many years (check out the Pearl District for some nightmare construction defect stories). Anyway, didn't the legislature finally pass a right-of-repair bill that helps builders when they are sued?

Posted by Juliet Balcony | February 7, 2007 1:33 PM

If you cap condo conversions in the city, all the people who want to actually own real estate but can't afford $400-$500k will end up in the damn suburbs. It's not a real solution to our housing issues. If you want more affordable housing in the form of apartments, rezone. If we had way more land zoned for apartments, rather than single family housing, and revised height caps (fuck your views), then we could have more apartments.

Posted by Gitai | February 7, 2007 2:45 PM

ummm josh feit, i know you said "edmonds-area," for maralyn chase, but she doesn't represent edmonds. give shoreline/woodway/lfp our due. we don't have much.

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