Season Finale

Dear Readers,

As all good season finales should, the Takoma Park City Council ended the pre-holiday session with one part dramatic closure and one part shocking development. The viewers will be glued to the screen next season, for sure. One viewer, anyway. That would be Your Gilbert.

The dramatic closure was the wrap-up of the rent stabilization ordinance revision. The council passed it on the second reading, to the accompaniment of the Outraged Landlord Chorus. The landlords lined up to sing a variation on the theme, “Just outside the city, the same apartment pretty, would rent for twice the mark, I can charge in Takoma Park! It’s not FAAAAAAAIR!”

It’s mighty fair to the tenants. Your Gilbert wonders why these landlords don’t just move their business OUT OF THE CITY where they can screw tenants over to their hearts content.
As Mayor Kathy Porter said, she was sympathetic to the need for landlords to run their businesses, but she was more sympathetic to the low income tenants who need to keep a roof over their heads.
There were two votes against the ordinance, and they were cast by councilmembers Colleen Clay and Bruce Williams.

And this is where we get into shocking development. Mayor Kathy Porter announced she will not be running for reelection (as mentioned in our last post). She is an advocate of rent control. Ward Three councilmember Bruce Williams, who apparently will run for Mayor, is not.

Ward Three, which has been long represented by Williams, has an activist tradition. Of all the wards it usually has the biggest voter turnout, and the neighborhood associations are strong and active. It doesn’t have a lot of rental units, however, not compared to Wards Four and Five. It has also seen a large jump in real estate values, and there has been an influx of what some call RYFs (Rich Young Families) and yuppies. Not to be prejudicial or anything, but Your Gilbert suspects that these newcomers tend to be more concerned with property values and other capitalistic principles than keeping roofs over the heads of low income tenants.

We shall see next season what candidates emerge for the Ward Three council seat, what other candidates emerge for mayor (though it is doubtful anyone could beat Williams), and whether the council rent-control split will widen from 2-5 to 3-4 (with an anti-rent control advocate in the Mayoral “bully pulpit”).

The council’s next season debuts in early September.


addendum: as Chris notes in a comment to this post, Ward One Councilmember Joy-Austin Lane has also decided not to run for office next election.

Howard Kohn also reports this in the August Takoma Voice. In addition he reports that: Josh Wright has declared an intention to run for Ward One council seat, Dan Robinson has announced a run for the Ward Three council seat, and Ryan O’Donnell of Fair Vote will run in Ward Six against incumbent Doug Barry.

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

5 Comments on "Season Finale"

  1. Joy Austin-Lane has also announced that she is not running for Ward One Council Seat this November. She sent out an announcement to Ward One Voters a few weeks ago, but it hasn’t been publicized so much.

  2. Gilbert. You miscalculate the current rent control split. It is 3-4 in favor of the current framework.

  3. Your Gilbert miscalculate??
    Let’s go back to the tape. We hear two “nays” (yourself and councilmember Williams) against the rent control ordinance revision on July 30. Mayor Porter and councilmembers Seamens, Barry, Snipper clearly say “aye.” That would be a 2-4 split on that particular vote, councilmember Joy Austin-Lane being absent.
    Are you saying Austin-Lane would have voted against that ordinance? That’s not too surprising, given that she had qualms about it. However, that is not the same as being opposed on principle to rent control, as you and councilmember Williams appear to be.
    Would it be fair to say that you two favor lifting all rent controls and allowing the free market to take over? With, of course, a small amount of “affordable housing” subsidized rent for a few low income folks?
    We haven’t heard Austin-Lane express that view, but we admit we don’t hear everything. Our impression is that she supports the principle of rent control, but she didn’t feel this recent revision was fair enough for landlords.
    So, until we get a clear indication that Austin-Lane has joined the Dark Side, we see a 2-5 split on rent control.

  4. Tom Gagliardo | August 15, 2007 at 11:48 pm |

    Porter and Austin-Lane aren’t running. Two nay votes on rent control (Williams and Clay) run and are reelected. Porter and Austin Lane are replaced by nay votes. That’s 4 against and 3 for continued rent control. Could it happen?

  5. colleen clay | August 22, 2007 at 4:08 am |

    The 3-4 split was relative to the changes suggested, not the idea of rent control. I wouldn’t change rent control for any existing tenant, with the exception of the 100%CPI issue. I don’t think any council member would.
    In five years, the balance of rental housing to homeowners in the city will make this a mute point anyway, and the opportunity to transition to a functional affordable housing policy that could last another 20 years, will have been lost. As the man said at the council meeting, the cheapest single family home in Takoma Park is a three unit rental.

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