Restrictive and anti-business initiatives failing by wide margins in Bellingham
Bellingham Initiative Measure 1 and Initiative Measure 4 (Rent control and Worker Restrictions) are failing in the first round of ballots counted from the November 2 election. Initiative Measure 1, Rent control is failing by 55% to 45% and Initiative Measure 4, Worker Restrictions is failing, 61% to 39%
The negative effect of both ballot measures were covered extensively in the local press and the Washington Policy Center published two citizen guides with details on the impacts to businesses and workers.
Initiative Measure 1 would have imposed a series of rent control limits and financial penalties on the provision of rental housing in the City of Bellingham. The chilling effect of the initiative, had it passed would have created “apartment lock” – the situation where people are reluctant to move, fearing they will lose the perceived benefit the law provides. That means normal market turn-over is blocked, and young apartment-seekers have fewer choices. This forces renters to move farther out from where jobs are, or pay higher rents. Cities with rent control have experienced low turnover, reducing options for people who need housing and a reduction in access to new affordable housing.
The requirements placed on employees and employers by Initiative Measure 4 would have cost both the employees and employers more money, destroyed jobs and created an uncompetitive job market in Bellingham that would have slowed economic growth in the region. It would have also denied earning opportunities to those who are seeking jobs and want to work. Imposing a further “hazard pay” will result in fewer jobs and working hours for employees living in the Bellingham area. Instead of a salary bump, many workers instead find their work hours cut or their jobs gone completely. For some employees, if they fell below a minimum hour threshold required for benefits, they would have lost lost benefits too.
The voter’s apparent rejection of Initiative Measure 1 and Initiative Measure 4 is good news for economic growth in Bellingham.