Tenants in three duplexes located on 10th Avenue SE received a sixty-day notice to vacate in early July, 2019. A one-bedroom in the duplexes rented for around $800 per month. Some of the tenants went to the City Council to connect the elimination of their affordable housing with the increase in homelessness.
The tenants were out by mid-September. The duplexes were remodeled. A one bedroom now rents for $1600 per month.
In the same month the tenants were removed, the owners of the duplexes, Aaron and Holly Angelo of Vancouver, Washington, applied to the City Council for an 8-year tax-exemption. The exemption would apply to a 21-unit market-rate apartment complex across the street from the duplexes. The Angelos estimate the residential cost of the complex at $4,320,000, which is the amount they want exempted from tax.
The Olympia City Council considered the Angelos’ request at their February 4, 2020 meeting. As is her practice, Councilmember Renata Rollins asked to have the request pulled from the Consent calendar, saying the Council should incentivize affordable housing, not market rate housing.
Nevertheless, when Mayor Selby called for the vote, otherwise silent Council members Bateman, Cooper, Gilman, Madrone and Parshley voted with her to give the tax exemption to the Angelos. Council member Rollins voted no.
What the City Council’s vote means is that other taxpayers will cover Aaron and Holly’s property taxes on the residential cost of their building at the rate of $52,963/year or $423,704 over eight years. It also confirms that “developers” like the Angelos will be rewarded by the Council when they eliminate housing like the duplexes. Worse, continuing to award tax exemptions for new market rate construction will mean more evictions from affordable housing and more homelessness.
Councilmember Gilman voted in November to give an 8-year tax exemption to J. Brent McKinley’s market rate Harbor Heights, but suggested a temporary moratorium on new 8-year exemptions to begin January 1 of this year. The suggestion, obviously, remains just a suggestion. But maybe before the downtown is transformed by avarice and a corrupted system, citizens should demand a moratorium.