Slog

Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is This the Most Important Blog Post You'll Ever Read About Seattle's Skyrocketing Rent?

Posted by on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 11:19 AM

This shit is so serious we busted out a stock photo.

shutterstock_money_house.jpg

Everybody in this town kvetches about the ransom we pay for rent around here. Goddamn, do we love to complain about housing stuff. We have kittens when a landlord raises our rent, we shit entire shit-houses of bricks when someone builds an aPodment, we break out in hives on the first of the month.

And rightly so. Rent increased 5.5 percent last year, on top of hikes the years before. So the average one-bedroom now costs more than $1,200 a month—and close to downtown, where the jobs are, the average one-bedroom rents for $1,436. Let's be clear: That is fucking RIDICULOUS.

But when it's time to do the boring, practical shit actually required to make housing affordable to the workers who make this city tick—sexy stuff like negotiating construction incentives, examining bawdy pro formas, debating the merits of ass-fucking rent control? Everyone pops an Ambien. So this blog post features an attention-grabbing Buzzfeed-y headline and a preposterous stock photo. Because if the jacked-up rents in Seattle are going to get fixed, it's not gonna be by those typical neighborhood busybodies who hate density and attend every other community meeting; it'll be because average renters finally popped a NoDoz, embraced good development, and started paying some fucking attention.

SO HARK! The sex-tastic Seattle City Council is holding a blow-your-mind forum from noon to 8 p.m. today at City Hall about the "best ways to meet Seattle's affordable housing needs"! Don't fall asleep yet—wanna know the best part? They'll be releasing brand new reports, which they commissioned last year, about SPECIFIC WAYS WE CAN ACTUALLY HELP FIX THIS PROBLEM. Check it out:

  1. A comparison of Seattle's actual strata of income compared to Seattle's inadequte supply of housing.

  2. How we can tweak incentives to get more housing affordable to working-class denizens.

  3. A compendium of best practices for workforce housing used in other cities that we could use in Seattle.

Today's mindfuckinglyawesome forum features experts from around the country who will talk about what we can do here. But even if you don't go, there's plenty you can do. Read the reports. Write to the council. Learn about this shit if you care about this shit. New incentives, tax breaks, levy funding, pro forma studies, more microhousing, taller buildings, expanding zones for multi-family housing, and other policy ideas should all be on the table. Are the speakers today the final word? No. Are these studies the definitive answer? No. Is this incomplete? Absolutely. But it's a step in the right direction, so pop a NoDoz right now and jump into this discussion. Your ability to afford the basic need of shelter depends on it.

 

Comments (51) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
Yeah, Dominic, all-heat-and-no-light rhetoric will surely advance the cause of lower rents. You betcha.
Posted by Citizen R on February 13, 2014 at 11:28 AM · Report this
Dominic Holden 2
@1) Advocating for robust policy discussion, years of writing about specific zoning plans, incentive programs, zoning adjustments, housing levy dollar allocation, preservation districts, and more = all heat. Uh huh.
Posted by Dominic Holden on February 13, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
3
You're piece today is all heat and no light. Yes.
Posted by Citizen R on February 13, 2014 at 11:48 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
No matter what we do, the tax-subsidized rich wastrels in E WA will shoot it down.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on February 13, 2014 at 11:54 AM · Report this
5
Building 3 story townhouses instead of multi-unit apartments/condo buildings is a big part of the problem. Given the choice, most developers will build the most upmarket that they can. When was the last time you saw a project that didn't have the word luxury on the sign?

Much of the new construction involves tearing down older, cheaper housing units. There are just so many surface parking lots and 1 story commercial buildings out there that can be utilized for new construction.
Posted by phil1234 on February 13, 2014 at 12:02 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 6
@5) You have it totally right. I think the city could create incentives for building slightly dowmarket housing where, right now, developers and banks go for luxury.
Posted by Dominic Holden on February 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM · Report this
7
NoDoz is SO 80s!! All the cool kids are into Sprayable Energy now!! http://sprayable.co/
Posted by DannyG on February 13, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 8

@3) Linking to new government studies on housing data = all heat. Yup, yup. I also think you're willfully ignoring the point of a crazed blog post on an arcane policy issue.

Posted by Dominic Holden on February 13, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Report this
9
If The Stranger actually cared about this issue, they wouldn't have endorsed districts for the city council, which is going to turn the council in an even more NIMBY-serving anti-density direction. The big thing is supply: Let housing stock rise with or even slightly surpass demand and the landlords won't have the upper hand. Rent Control is a dysfunctional distraction. Tweaking development in particular ways can help at the margins, but the key issue here is supply.
Posted by david jw on February 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM · Report this
10
The rent is too damn high.

What do think about getting much more creative with co-housing projects to create higher density spaces for single people and couples without children...or for artists...or for activists?

...what if we made property taxes progressive based on occupant density and income? ...and included quality of life in the equation?
Posted by The Rent Is Too Damn High on February 13, 2014 at 12:40 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 11
This is great - the story's absolutely worth every stock photo, all-caps, hyphenate, bolding, bullet, and link there is, in hopes we readers might actually do something.

(Note to self: yes, you commented. Now do something.)
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on February 13, 2014 at 12:48 PM · Report this
Dr. Z 12
Just a thought, the city could create incentives for single-family homeowners with obsolete, 1920s-era detached garages to convert those structures to affordable tiny houses. Everybody wins.
Posted by Dr. Z on February 13, 2014 at 12:56 PM · Report this
13
"the average one-bedroom rents for $1,436. Let's be clear: That is fucking RIDICULOUS."

As a Bay Area resident, I can only say: LOL. I'll take some $1.5K rent, please. At least you folks over there are smart enough to actually build something in response to population growth, unlike the idiots over here.
Posted by Morosoph on February 13, 2014 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 14
We've seen this cycle many times in San Francisco and New York City and it's happening in Seattle:

1. Make it hard for developers to build new housing
2. Prices go up due to supply not meeting demand
3. People complain that rents are going up

If you want lower rents you have to build more housing. This is really easy stuff. Height restrictions, restrictive zoning and parking requirements are responsible for most of the problem. Focusing on specific rents in downtown Seattle doesn't make sense because if all the upper middle class and rich people move there *other housing is freed up*.
Posted by Sam Levine http://levinetech.net on February 13, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
15
@12: If those 1920's era detached garages are anything like the ones in my neighborhood, they're not things that can be converted to decent living accomodations--no plumbing, often dirt floors, old, moldy, etc. You could raze them and then build a tiny house on them, sure, and I think that'd be a great idea. Of course, the locals will start whining about how there's not enough street parking for their 2+ cars.
Posted by tiktok on February 13, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Report this
16
I can't afford to live in Seattle so I didn't. When I worked in the ID I drove to the bus stop and took the bus downtown. Then I got a better job, so I moved further south and got a better rental house. But I still take the bus to work because I don't want to pay what I pay in rent for a 600 square foot condo or some shit.

It takes a bit of time out of my day and I get to live a lot nicer with fiber internet instead of Comcast.

In a decade or something maybe I'll make enough money to live in Seattle proper again. In the meantime living 20 minutes away is really not that big of a fucking deal.
Posted by The CHZA on February 13, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 17
@13,

I think that's what two of my friends pay for a craphole apartment in a huge, hideous apartment complex in Santa Clara. For all of those who aren't familiar with the area, that's like paying $1,500/month for an apartment in Federal Way.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 13, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
18

The answer for NYC and San Francisco seems to be move to Brooklyn and Oakland, respectively.

Then this occurs:

Manhattan Rents Drop for Fifth Straight Month

http://www.worldpropertychannel.com/nort…
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on February 13, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 19
I don't see why it is ridiculous. It's no more "ridiculous" than free range eggs going for $4 a dozen.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 13, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
20
@16: Until the anti-transit folks take away the funding for your bus ride, sure.
Posted by tiktok on February 13, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
JF 21
What's ridiculous about that dollar amount for rent? Seems pretty normal to me. Just like rent in Tukwila is much less expensive than rent on waterfront property on Mercer Island.
Posted by JF on February 13, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
22
#14 is right. Build, build, build. Don't do what we did in San Francisco. You really don't want to be paying $2500 a month for tiny 1 BR apartments (albeit in a new high rise with a nice view of the Bay Bridge). SF is in the midst of a rental apartment boom, but it's too little too late. The restrictive development environment plus rent control have screwed everyone over here.

The solution is simple. Density. You live in a city, don't whine about density. Cities are ABOUT density. Build smart high rises, but build them, live in them and your problem will be solved.
Posted by Mike Friedman on February 13, 2014 at 2:21 PM · Report this
23
#22

Or move, move, move....

If we had built out LINK instead of wasting $6 billion to dig a tube and stick a giant metal butt plug in it, people would be able to live in lower cost areas and glide in on a fast train.

This is what we were lead to believe would happen when we voted in light rail back in the 1990s.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on February 13, 2014 at 2:32 PM · Report this
24
I still haven't grasped how tearing down an older 12-unit building with rents in the $800-900 range, and replacing it with a 48-unit building with units renting for $1,800 per, how that leads to lower rents.

If new construction rented for anything less than what it does today, it wouldn't get built because developers wouldn't get financing. Building costs are what they are, and if rents won't cover costs -- poof. Nothing.

The market is great at tearing down older affordable units, but it doesn't replace them. We leave that for government housing.
Posted by Citizen R on February 13, 2014 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 25
I just read those city documents. I can't make it to the meeting, but everyone be careful: they are trying to change the debate. It's all about what type of housing we should force developers to build, and how much per unit we should increase the taxes on building. All of the implied solutions will lead to higher rents.

@19 Where do you get your free-range eggs for only $4? They're at least $7 at the farmer's market.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on February 13, 2014 at 2:49 PM · Report this
ChadK 26
@ 23
"If we had built out LINK instead of wasting $6 billion to dig a tube and stick a giant metal butt plug in it, people would be able to live in lower cost areas and glide in on a fast train."


Wow. What witchcraft is this? For once I agree with you, Bailo!
Posted by ChadK on February 13, 2014 at 2:59 PM · Report this
27 Comment Pulled
28
I still haven't grasped how tearing down an older 12-unit building with rents in the $800-900 range, and replacing it with a 48-unit building with units renting for $1,800 per, how that leads to lower rents.

Obviously, it doesn't reduce rent for those 12 renters. And that sucks, and it's a problem, and we should do something to help them. But preventing the development (and others like it) from occurring hurts a lot more people across the market.

Because it improves the ratio of renters to units across the market. You take those 48 people willing to pay 1800 out of the market for slightly less nice apartments, reducing the competition for them ,and so on. This isn't complicated. As my link below demonstrates, there's a strong correlation in Seattle between three things: new units built, vacancy rate increases, and stable or declining rents. When fewer units are coming on line, vacancy rate goes down and rates go up.

In a restrictive development environment where only a tiny fraction of demand is allowed to be met, of course the units that are built will target high end consumers. (If we only allowed a tiny fraction of cars to be made relative to demand, do you think anyone would bother to build a Ford Focus?). Than answer is to let all of demand be met, not just a fraction of it, but the more the better. The higher the vacancy rate is, the less landlords can get away with raising rents. The best way to move the vacancy rate is to improve the ratio of units to renters.
Posted by david jw on February 13, 2014 at 3:20 PM · Report this
Posted by david jw on February 13, 2014 at 3:20 PM · Report this
30
You know what lowers rent? Black people.

....and crime.
Posted by The two together are very effective on February 13, 2014 at 4:04 PM · Report this
31
@ 28, Not only are you right, but your case is dramatically understated. The ratio of new units to destroyed units isn't anything close to 4:1 (as @24 speculates), but in reality closer to 40:1.

Just think about all of the new construction in the Pike/Pine. The Mercedes project, the BMW project, the never-ending project at 10th & Union, the project across the street from the Stranger (11th and Pine), the massive project stretching between 10th & 11th and Union, the project at 13th & Pine, the project at 15th and Pine, the 12th Ave Arts project. In total those projects represent probably close to 1,500 new units -- and not a single existing unit was destroyed to build them.

There are absolutely examples of 4:1 (or less) displacement (the Underarms and Pinevue spring to mind), but on balance there are dozens and dozens of people taken out of the rental market for every one person that loses their $800-900 apartment.
Posted by CD Dawn on February 13, 2014 at 4:59 PM · Report this
32
@9 beat me to it: When district City Council elections start happening in two years, we're going to start seeing NIMBY as never before. Goodbye visions of density, let alone anything encouraging it like flexible parking requirements. I suspect even MIL apartments-over-garages will be a battleground.
Posted by crone on February 13, 2014 at 7:50 PM · Report this
33
height is coo but not the only way toward density. in Hong Kong they pack in tight. I'd like to see the stranger do some articles about how the burbs should be facilitating that, too, like in Eurp
Posted by alfresco on February 13, 2014 at 8:17 PM · Report this
seattlegrrrl 34
No 24, agree with you totally. When housing development exceeds potential renters looking for housing, you do NOT magically get lower or even affordable rent. When you have nothing but high-rise "luxury" developments there is no consideration for low-income renters, they are not even in the equation, especially with developers the likes of Paul Allen's Vulcan. What you get is Florida, specifically metro Miami. Thousands and thousands of "high end" condos sitting vacant while thousands and thousands of Floridians, most of whom are working poor, raise their children in weekly motels.

Oh, HELL NO.
Posted by seattlegrrrl http:// on February 13, 2014 at 9:13 PM · Report this
35
@34, thank you for posting a realistic refutation to the "more housing = lower rents" crap.
Posted by sarah70 on February 13, 2014 at 9:51 PM · Report this
36
Well, before you all get your panties in a bunch over those "typical neighborhood busybodies who hate density and attend every community meeting" and turn your fate over to the 'market', I suggest...
Take a close look at the past couple months of that Paul Dorpat feature in the Times, Then and Now. Almost every week you see evidence of a once gracious city being swallowed by brutalist modernism. The 'now' pictures will be in color whereas the 'then' pictures are in b&w, but if you reverse that in your mind, the contrast makes it appear as if we had all collectively decided to embrace our inner Soviet.
Those 'neighborhood busybodies' are the ones who actually have to live with the squalor and hideous soul-destroying monoliths that a serious push for cheap housing would produce.
Your plea for 'good development' is exactly what those idealistic activists have been wanting to see. Neighborhood community councils are not a villain- they have all pretty much accepted GMA and the need to accomodate increased density. But exactly where and with what design restrictions makes the difference between a liveable city and a shithole.
Posted by kallipugos on February 14, 2014 at 7:30 AM · Report this
37
When housing development exceeds potential renters looking for housing, you do NOT magically get lower or even affordable rent.

Nobody is saying it's magic, but it happens. We actually have empirical records of this: After a supply increased from a minor building boom 1999-2003, rents were stable to down down slightly for several years. After demand dropped dramatically in 08-09, due to fewer people looking for their own place because of the shitty economy, rents dropped sharply. The periods that coincide with steep rent increases coincide with fewer markets added to our housing stock. The rental spike of the last couple years followed a period of little new housing (due to relatively few starts during the depth of the recession). By the end of 2013, we've got a healthy number of new units coming on line, and lo and behold, rents have stopped going up! (See link below)

I don't have much sympathy for the kind of argument kallipugos is making--essentially, "the needs and interests of poor people, renters and the environment are less important than my desire to be surrounded by buildings I think are pretty." But at least that position doesn't entail denying reality. Your comment is just false, directly refuted by observational data about the Seattle rental market over the last 15 years.

http://www.betterinstitutions.com/2014/0…
Posted by david jw on February 14, 2014 at 7:59 AM · Report this
38
Also, the phenomenon you identify in Miami is a product of a spike in speculative investment in condos, not high-end units being built. This happens in a very small fraction of rental markets (Miami and Vegas, mostly) during particularly fast-inflating bubbles. It didn't happen during the Seattle bubble, it isn't happening now, and it's not a relevant concern for our market.
Posted by david jw on February 14, 2014 at 8:04 AM · Report this
39
#37- an inaccurate paraphrasing. How about "the needs and interests of developers are less important than my desire to be surrounded by buildings I think are pretty."
I would agree to that- you have your values ($$$), I have mine.
Because if you are a developer and you are identifying your interests as being the same as those of poor people, renters and the environment, I am calling you a liar.
Your interests may overlap, and when they do, fine, but save us the sanctimonious b.s. about serving the interests of the poor, the renters and the environment when you are as absorbed with self-interest as anyone.
Posted by kallipugos on February 14, 2014 at 8:50 AM · Report this
seattlegrrrl 40
No 37 - "After demand dropped dramatically in 08-09, due to fewer people looking for their own place because of the shitty economy, rents dropped sharply."

Are you stoned?

I said it in another thread on here and I'll say it again: I lived in so-called "low income" housing (aka a 400sqft studio) mis-managed by Capitol Hill Housing for nine years. Before the Recession (aka Depression), our rent increased $10-$25 annually. In Dec. 2008 we received our first $50 increase. Again in spring 2009 -- while the Tully's next to my building and the restaurant on the corner closed -- they jacked the rent AGAIN. By Jan 2010 everyone in my building, including retirees on social security, two people in wheelchairs on permanent disability, saw their rent jump another $100. Everyone that could afford to get out of CHH started to. I left last year. When I bailed my studio apt had jumped from $425 to $795, nearly double. I'm sure it's over $800 now.

Why should anyone care about one "non-profit" rental group? Because they are, aside from SHA, the only "low-income" rental provider in all of Seattle. And last year they got the green light to manage the nightmare that Yesler Terrace will be when Paul Allen's Vulcan gets done bulldozing all the current affordable housing (a lot of it Section 8) and high-rise "luxury" CONDOS and apartments replace the old buildings.

I looked into a "low-income" unit in an ugly, new apartment building over near Minor and Yale Ave just north of Denny Way in early 2009. (This is the South Lake Union area that Allen and Vulcan are so proud of.) The conversation went like this: I asked if they had any designated "low-income" units and the manager said 'yes', that they were required to have 1 or 11% or whatever designated as "low-income". I said "Great, how much is the unit?" She said "$995 a month." I said "No, I mean how much are the "low-income" units?" and she said "That is the low income unit." I'm positive it's even more now.

"Low-income" as defined by the WA statutes is a joke. And someone else on Slog mentioned that there is no rent control.

No 38: "the phenomenon you identify in Miami is a product of a spike in speculative investment in condos, not high-end units being built. This happens in a very small fraction of rental markets (Miami and Vegas, mostly) during particularly fast-inflating bubbles."

Again, ARE YOU HIGH?

It wasn't a speculative bubble, it was predatory lending which has now put millions of people INTO crappy, over-priced rentals. It happened NATION WIDE, not just to Florida. Hello, ever heard of California, one of the most populous states? The Central Valley is STILL having massive foreclosures.

Most of the people I know who bought homes (or if in cities like Seattle, condos) in the 1990s did so because THEY COULDN'T AFFORD RENTAL RATES. It was cheaper to buy, if you magically had good credit. Thanks to predatory lending, a lot of people had good credit. Since the home loan scandal and the Recession started, most of the people I know who owned homes (or condos or co-op apartments) lost them when their loan rates skyrocketed.

Real estate developers are NOT your friend. They do not have your best interests at heart. They're not interested in setting aside a certain percentage of their new apartment, condo or housing developments so the "poor" (aka anyone who is not on a trust fund or making $150,000/yr) can move in. Their only interest is profit.

The foundation of this whole "free market", "greed is good" batshit economy is your investments must always see a higher return, no matter what. Why would any millionaire buy stock in or a certain percentage of a new housing development if he did NOT expect his annual dividends to increase over time???

More...
Posted by seattlegrrrl http:// on February 14, 2014 at 9:28 AM · Report this
41
@40--Good post. Advocates of growth über alles are not dealing with reality (or they're just doing their jobs on behalf of the 1%). Dominic does a great service posting links to useful info (not so much with his opinions ;-). Here are three pieces I recommend:
Beyond Growth or Beyond Capitalism.
The Macroecology of Sustainability.
Energy, EROI and the Quality of Life.

If you don't think these higher level resource issues are relevant to Seattle's growth arguments, you're not paying attention. Or you're paid not to.
Posted by TobyinFremont on February 14, 2014 at 10:43 AM · Report this
42
kallipugos, the insinuation that I because I hold economically literate views I must be a "developer" is hilariously paranoid. As it turns out, I'm a rent-paying schmuck with a part time job.

Seattlegrrl, 1) you're right in your characterization of the general causes of the bubble. The phenomenon of speculative empty-condo buying made the bubble worse in a few places, including Miami, but was not a phenomenon found here and elsewhere and it irrelevant to evaluating developments in Seattle. Regarding your rental experience I'm looking at data on rents across the city over time, and you're generalizing from the experience of rent increases in one apartment building. I trust it's obvious why my data gathering strategy produces more useful information than yours.
Posted by david jw on February 14, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Report this
43
@42 -- What useful information? I looked at the data you referenced @29: The methodology is not clear and the % drop in rents is not translated into $. Yup, rents dropped 3% in 2009. The time period and the geographical scope and any other relevant assumptions are not mentioned, linkage to supply as the causation (wasn't there a big economic downturn at the same time?), a discussion of how a 3% drop affects affordability... nothing.

What the article does is confirm that increasing supply (almost all at the higher end) does little more than moderate increases ("rents will basically have to flatten out"), and does nothing to make housing more affordable for those not in the upper quantiles of income.
Posted by TobyinFremont on February 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Report this
seattlegrrrl 44
David, I'm not "generalizing" from one apartment building. You want figures? I got yer figures right here:

The Capitol Hill Housing building I lived in had about 50 units. 95% of those were studios (500sqft or smaller). If the average (and I'm being conservative) rent was $750/month per unit --

50x750.= $37,500/month gross

Yes, this is before they pay for their whopping office staff of five people. And, no, they don't pay their onsite mgrs, IF they even have one in every building, which they do not. I knew three onsite mgrs, they all had 2nd jobs. None of CHH's buildings have any sort of security/doorman, what-have-you and it was a SERIOUS problem. The cleaning/maintenance in the buildings is all done by either a) an asst mgr (again, if there is one) or b)private contractors who CHH was forever "forgetting" to pay.

$37,500 x 12 = $450,000/year

This is off ONE rental property!!! It's a 100+ year old building.

CHH lists on their site as having 44 properties. Yes, some would be only 10 units, others might be 80 units.

But even using my average of 50 units --

44 properties x $450,000 = $19,800,000. gross annually

http://www.capitolhillhousing.org/ourpro…

And yet this outfit is listed as "non-profit"?

The alternative to the CHH building I lived in is what my friend S. lived in off Aloha in CapHill. A nice privately-owned fourplex. It was well maintained, the owners were nice. She paid $850 in 2008 for a two bdrm/1bath. Then it was 950. Then in 2010, it was $1150, then she moved.

Again, when the Yessler Terrace project is finished, Capitol Hill Housing will be managing thousands of rental units throughout metro Seattle.

There will be no competition, no "free market".

More...
Posted by seattlegrrrl http:// on February 14, 2014 at 1:12 PM · Report this
45
Seattlegrrrl, why don’t you move to Tukwila or Seatac and take the train in? Why do you have to live downtown when you’re obviously incapable of earning enough?
Posted by You act a little entitled wouldn't you say? on February 14, 2014 at 3:41 PM · Report this
46
@45--My responding question: Why do (some) landlords raise rents far in excess of the rate of inflation or the needs of maintenance or capital amortization? Because they can. Great reason.
Posted by TobyinFremont on February 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM · Report this
47
it helps if the discussion is at least partly fact based.

1. housing is in some respects a market; tens of thousands of providers. to some extent then, high rents call forth building producing more supply, etc., mitigating rent. not lowering! mitigating. iow the $1400 would be $2400 without the new 40 to 1 replacement buildings.
2. high rents aren't ridiculous -- you have them in every single ultra desirable urban location. rents are low in Asotin county, Detroit, outer Greenland, and other less desirable places. all the things you and I LOOOOVVVVE about seattle, make the rent high.
3. add in ultra high costs of building with policies like mandatory underground parking, and the host of fees and incentives and taxes and utility and whatnot. every time we turn around we add more housing cost. of course it's high.
4. requiring incentives to help a small band or number of renters or buyers is counterproductive as this just adds cost to the ones not directly benfitting. like most things we do to regulate housing, it adds cost.
5. the nonmarket aspect of housing via regulation is a sharp limit on supply of land via SFH zoning, and other zoning. Yes, this makes supply limited. Also limiting supply big time is another government policy which is to NOT BUILD OUT a vast multline nine lines or twelve lines subway or rail system like other cities have bringing you from renton or shoreline or Edmonds or burien or eastgage whatever to downtown in 20 or 40 minutes. fast enough to live 20 miles away yet come in for a show at night. yes we are building like 1.5 lines in the light rail program. or call it three lines whatever. it leaves out half of seattle city and most of the region, though. we need like 9 or twelve, going all around the lake, making huegeass loops for our region. we also lack real commuter rail from mt. Vernon and Tacoma.
6. you simply can't subsidize your way to affordability for masses of people. you end up with incentive programs building some low income housing but not enough.
people winning it are like lottery winners; hundreds of thousands other people don't benefit and have to live 1.2 hour drive time away.
7. rent control works for those who get it. they win a jackpot for life. in nyc I'd say 40% of the rent controlled apartments in the building I lived in were (a) owned by couples in their 60's with a house in Westchester they can the unit in manhattan for a pied a terre! or (b) they put their rich ass kids in it, or (c) it was a three bedroom occupied by an elderly lady only, whose two or three kids were gone 20 years ago, wasting space (d) about 10% were illegally sublet, as mine was, the tenant enjoying rent control actually lived in Jamaica and I paid market rent to her, about $1500 in fucking 1981, nice one bedroom at 92d and WEA, she paid $500 and she lived off the $1000 a month difference. wow, glad I could help provide for that Jamaican family in Ocho Rios. the landlorid eventually found out and hired a lawyer to evict my ass. (e) other rent controlled apartments in the building were chock full of people making more than median income, there's no income or needs test for it so it's a wasteful clumsy policy that ensures no availability of apartmentns to newcomers.

rather than artificial programs raising costs for all nonsubsidized renters and owners, we need (A) overall stimulus policies, education, trains, CCC, etc. for poor people and all people in general, and (B) a real train system. you don't have a "right" to live in SLU when it transforms from a low rent to a high rent place in thirty years. To be expected! you may as our policy could do, get help moving to a place in .....oh lake city or rainier beach....and if we had a train system that could take you to the job at mcdonald's downtown AND to your community college class in shoreline CC ANd to your girlfriend's place in burien then you get to live in a near world class city and enjoy its benefits. this is how great cities work. if you don't build it you make even more of a premium for location downtown in your region jacking up rents even more.
More...
Posted by facts suggest solutions on February 16, 2014 at 7:47 AM · Report this
48
@46. there are thousands of builders and developers eaget to build more units and make profits. They are limited in that we limit the land available and raise their costs.
Easiest ways to make more "land" available:
1. deregulate to some extent, basement dwelling units in SF zones, garage units, etc. don't require parking. Just have a code. Don't require complex license process or permits. Let people put more people in the SF home garage and land they already have! this would (a) help employment as a thousand small contractors are hired to build out units, (b) provide far more affordable housing than all incentive programs and SHA combined.
2. Stop requiring parking in multifamily. it requires costly carbon loading concrete foundations. Do let developers build above ground parking garages so the owners and renters who want a car in the city park it in a garage a few blocks away. untie the parking space from the dwelling unit. the requirement of underground parking in all our small lots REALLY JACKS UP THE COST of building and limits actual building. we have all these 3000 SF and 5000 SF lots and they could have 10 or 20 units, but with the required parking, my god, you can only build out if you sell condos for $450K or $600K.
3. instead of building costly stadiums, let's see, we're paying for SIX of them (king dome, its replacement, new husky stadium, mariners stadium, we pay costs of Key, and the city is paying costs today to keep that mou going for Hansen) and each one of the tax streams or subsidy streams could have built an elevated rail line like sky train. imagine lines out to NW Seattle, from there to northgate; into W Seattle and across from there to Beacon hill, with lines going downtown, then to renton, to Bellevue around the lake, to bothell, and two lines not just one going north of Seattle both to Edmonds and shoreline and to east of the freeway, and two lines or three radiating down to kent from renton, to southcenter, to burien, and a hugeass commuter line to Tacoma. Instead of building this we waste money on several billion dollar road projects, stadia, and ineffective transit like the silly rapid ride with a large capitol cost, a silly sounder with like a billion dollar capital cost, you can't share frequent use commuter rail with freight, duh, and silly ineffective plans to spend $800 million! on a city streetcar system that's really no faster than the busses we already have but convince the transit loving crowd mcginn and now murray is "really doing something" for transit. That 800 million is another whole rail line spur. we're just not building a system folks and until we do the real estate we have downtown gets higher and higher andhigher same for cap hill, same even for ballard or anywhere you can get downtown without a hour long car drive or a 1.3 hour long car drive.

stop demonizing landlords and builders. start looking at what we CAN do and have chosen to do and not do that could increase supply and make this partially free, partially constrained "market" work better by putting more "land" (ie space in which to create units) into use for housing. WE are the ones limiting its supply, and there are many ways to radically bump up supply without destroying the SF character of SF zones. all those cottages or basement units or garage units on a SF zone add to its stability and character and whatnot every one of those houses used to have a 5 person or 4 person ozzie and harreit type family with kids but today they have a two person couple regularly sending donations to sierra club and voting for mcginn because he's for density! not realizing they dedensified their own land! the infill we could do would add housing for the 22 year old son in community college, that pal from Minneapolis who just moved here and needs a place to pay rent on for three months before moving out, the housesitter when you're gone, even the maid, yes, or the nanny, yes, or the proverbial mother in law. it helps rebuild extended natural and made families. the known tenant paying rent to a SF owner is our easiest cheapest way to add lots of units. half of those garages aren't even used for parking they just are loadedwith junk anyway. oh also don't require ovens, let people have tiny kitchenettes like on a sailboat.
More...
Posted by more of the same on February 16, 2014 at 8:08 AM · Report this
49
in general policies that make the income of the folks in the lowest 25% by income, work better than policies that make specific things they buy artificially cheaper. take food stamps. that is something that raises their income. we don't "control" the price of the food, or require grocers to "set aside" 20% of all milk for the lucky few "low income" folks who win the lottery to get it. Those measures would raise the price of milk in the other 80%. and many or most of the people buying that 80% of the milk, are also below median income. you can't decree things cheaper. someone has to pay. you can build a society in which more people can afford housing through general new deal type policies in general, and specifically, by building transportation systems that work and let people get somewhere else in the region, and the only real way to do that is via a train system, this is shown by the fact that among the top 100 cities in the world that we hail for having great mobility, they ALL HAVE REGIONAL RAIL SYSTEMS. whether subway or elevated or mixed. and only at surface in outer areas and even then it must be grade separated. you rarely find urban rents in desirable cities EVER going down....unless, you know, you compare rents in rome in the year 750 AD to the year 100 AD, ie, after rome fell and vandals took over. in normal times the city just gets better and better, being where the action is, so rents within a 20 minute walk circle of downtown in a major world city are going to be $1400 a month. and higher. rent control has not made rents go down in nyc, has it? the progression of the 800 a month place in 2008 becoming unaffordable in 2012 after amazon moved in, after years of growth more, after we threw money at downtown but didn't build regional rail, well, that's quite expectable. Aloha on cap hill is like one of the most desirable places to live in the entire usa, on a par with nob hill, upper west side, NW DC, magazine street in NOLA, pacific palisades in LA, it's basically what, a 25 minute WALK to about 3,000 top restaurants and bars and jobs in gates foundation, downtown, and first hill? of COURSE the rent in a moderate unit is going to jump to 1150 then pretty soon 1450. look at what you get compared to living in a 900 a month unit in a townhome on the kent des moine road in between I 5 and 167 where you have to drive everywhere. what your friend S. got in value for those years of moderate rent in a world class city near world class city was priceless, and her living situation was, I'd say better than most moderate income people in ny living in archie bunker land out in quenns or moderate income people living in Oakland taking the train to SF downtown. why wouldn't rent on aloha, a five minute walk from $4 million mansions and parks with regional 20 mile views of water, be high? what city does rent do down in ever, unless rome after its decline? sure rents were lower once the coliseum was a ruin in downtown rome. took till 1500 probably for them to recover. apart from that policy, ruin, now visible in downtown Detroit, you're not going to get low rent in downtown or close to downtown in a major world city and if you require it you only end up making things more costly somewhere else, like squeezing toothpaste tube here to make it narrower makes it bulge out over there. btw the response to landlord raising rent too much is buy a home and get a boarder. presto you effectively lowered your rent. move to shoreline in a rambler. of COURSE landlords are greedy, of COURSE people playing a rent control game are greedy too, this is not news.
More...
Posted by practical solutions. on February 16, 2014 at 8:56 AM · Report this
50
These activities should be stopped or looked over at. For renters it is cheating.
........................................
http://www.renteater.com/
Posted by Ericrowwen on April 15, 2014 at 12:52 AM · Report this
51 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy

Add a comment

Advertisement

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy