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How Strategic Advocacy Defeated Rent Control Legislation in Seattle


In a striking display of advocacy and strategic campaigning, we worked with the National Apartment Association (NAA), and orchestrated a pivotal movement to stop rent control legislation in Seattle, Washington, which isn’t easy to do in a city known for its progressive mindset.


The Challenge: Stopping a Future Rent Control Law

In July 2023, the Seattle City Council considered a trigger law that would implement rent control at an unspecified future date, contingent upon the state repealing a standing prohibition against local rent control measures. Given Seattle's progressive leanings, this was no small feat. The legislation posed a significant threat to the rental housing industry, which mobilized the client to take decisive action.


Strategic Campaign Execution

With less than ten days until the council vote, an expedited advocacy campaign was launched. This campaign utilized a dual approach: engaging residents through a targeted text messaging campaign and facilitating patch-through phone calls that directly connected voters with their councilmembers. The focus was on two critical districts, represented by Councilmembers Andrew Lewis and Dan Strauss, where the voters' sentiments could sway the decision.


Tactics and Engagement

The campaign's strategy was simple yet effective. Voters were first asked about their stance on the legislation. Upon gauging their opposition, they were provided with arguments against the law and offered a direct line to voice their concerns to their councilmembers. In the span of one week, 282 voters were patched through to one of the two councilmembers offices to voice their concern. This approach not only educated the residents but actively involved them in the advocacy process.


Outcome: A Triumph for Advocacy

The result was a testament to the power of organized, strategic action and a win for the NAA. On August 1, the Seattle City Council voted against the rent control legislation with a decisive 6-2 vote, including opposition from both targeted councilmembers. This outcome underscored the effectiveness of the campaign, demonstrating that even in a progressive city, well-planned advocacy efforts can prevail.


Conclusion

This campaign illustrates the critical importance of targeted advocacy and community engagement in influencing public policy. By understanding the community's pulse and leveraging technology to facilitate direct interaction with policymakers, the NAA managed to protect the interests of the rental housing industry effectively. This serves as a blueprint for similar advocacy efforts across the nation, proving that strategic planning and community involvement can lead to significant victories.

 

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