News Condo Conversion Confusion
posted by March 12 at 16:07 PMon
Housing activists have been pushing for a cap on condo conversions. A bill to regulate the terms of conversion for displaced renters (including providing relocation money) made it out of committee without the cap, but with the hope that once the bill was taken up again the cap idea would be reintroduced.
And indeed, Rep. Maralyn Chase (D-32, Shoreline) is sponsoring amendments that would give cities the right to cap conversions. Seattle liberals Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37, South Seattle) and Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D-11, South Seattle) have signed on.
While the cap provision isn’t as stern and sweeping as the activists want, the more limited protections it allows are at least targeted at poorer renters. The caps would only apply to developments where at least half of the units are rented at or below 60% of the fair market rent.
This idea was initially being pushed by Seattle City Council Member Tom Rasmussen, who is still pushing for the idea. Here’s what he wrote in an e-mail to state legislators today: “The majority of the Council supports giving cities the right to limit conversions and we appreciate the work of those who are proposing amendments that would give that local option.”
That’s cool. But this is weird. Despite Rasmussen’s note, Seattle’s lobbyist in Olympia, Rose Feliciano, sent an e-mail to legislators saying the city doesn’t support the amendments.
There are three amendments likely to be proposed by the prime sponsor Rep. Chase. Amendment 122 allows jurisdictions to provide limitations on the number of apartments that can be converted. We do not support having [that] amendment added to the bill.