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.