News Condo Conversion Bill
posted by January 16 at 15:05 PMon
In my Oly column this week, I wrote about several worthy bills that are in play this session—bills like expanding health care coverage—that show some Democratic members defying orders to pursue the low-expectations gameplan this session.
However, I failed to include a bill that I just learned today is in play: the condo conversion bill.
The bill, which would give cities the right to limit condo conversions, is getting a hearing in the House this Friday. A companion Senate bill is queued up for a hearing next week.
(A similar idea was stripped out of a condo conversion bill last year to make it more palatable to conservatives. But that bill ultimately failed.)
The bill would give cities authority to require developers to provide adequate relocation assistance to tenants displaced by condominium conversion and also give larger cities and counties in the Puget Sound area the right to restrict the number of low income rental units converted to condominiums occurring annually in their community.
Seattle co-sponsors on the bills are: Reps Sharon Tomiko-Santos, Bob Hasegawa, Phyllis Kenney, Mary Lou Dickerson, and Senators Jeanne Kohl-Wells, Ken Jacobsen, Adam Kline, and Ed Murray.
Low-income housing activist John Fox, who’s lobbying for the bill, makes the case:
Since the early 1980’s to 2004, the number of conversions occurring annually in the five county Puget Sound area (King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Thurston) averaged only about 300-500 units lost per year. Since Jan. 2004, in the five county area, over 16,000 rental units have been converted to condominiums with most occurring in Snohomish (4000) and King Counties (11,000). Seattle alone has seen a loss of over 6000 rental units conversion during that period. Last year we lost 1700 units to conversion, the second highest annual total in city history. Despite an overall slowdown in new housing construction, the problem of conversion shows no signs to date of slowing appreciably. As a result of conversions and given the fact that most new housing construction is in the form of condominium development, King and Snohomish County have actually seen a net decline in their rental housing stock since 2005.