By all means, the Seattle Times editorial board should feel free to argue that “rent control is not the answer for Seattle.” I look forward to a robust and informed debate on the issue. But they don’t. Rather, the editors insist that council members and candidates simply “should stop talking about rent control.”
I dunno, seems odd for an op-ed page to advocate for less opinion and editorials. But whatever. For the thing I really find silly in this op-ed is the second clause of their headline: “Rent control is not the answer for Seattle, and is illegal.”
Really? We should stop talking about rent control because it is illegal? You know what else until recently used to be illegal? Marijuana. Same-sex marriage. Charter schools. Private liquor stores. That’s the whole point of talking about rent control—it’s a conversation about changing the law!
Look, I can’t really say whether I support or oppose rent control, because I haven’t actually seen a specific proposal. Would I prefer to avoid price controls? Sure. They’re messy. But might a cap of some multiple of inflation prove useful as a temporary complement to a comprehensive affordable housing program aimed at dramatically increasing supply? Maybe. I welcome that debate. And so should all serious parties.
After all, if rent control is such an awful idea then the editors have nothing to fear, right?