Minneapolis’ rent control proposal should have died a long time ago

Thanks to some absentee council members, rent control will likely not appear on the November ballot in Minneapolis. As reported by the Star Tribune,

In a contentious maneuver backed by fewer than half its members, the Minneapolis City Council on Wednesday appears to have killed any prospects for rent control appearing on the November ballot.

The development was possible only because three Muslim members were absent Wednesday in observance of the Eid al-Adha holiday, which added to the drama and fueled condemnation from rent control supporters.

The vote appeared on the council agenda as a largely procedural task, referring the issue to a committee as it inched toward a potential ballot question for voters. But there’s never been agreement by enough council members or Mayor Jacob Frey on what that question would ask, so it’s never been clear whether it would actually reach the ballot this year.

A majority of council members has supported pressing forward with the process. But with three pro-rent control council members — Aisha Chughtai, Jamal Osman and Jeremiah Ellison — absent Wednesday, opponents suddenly had the ability to quash the issue.

It might prove problematic for the city council that the proposal was killed off in such a way. But as the Star Tribune notes, the voting date had already been previously changed to accommodate the said Eid celebration. But Eid ended up falling on a different day than was anticipated.

The council meeting was initially scheduled more than a year ago to be held on Wednesday rather than the usual Thursday date, in order to accommodate the Eid celebration. But the holiday, which is set based on the sighting of the moon, is subject to a degree of uncertainty that far out, and observations in Minneapolis were being held Wednesday.

Whether the vote should have been postponed to a different day or not is beyond the scope of this article. That question would likely be better answered by looking at the Minneapolis Charter.

Regardless, however, research evidence overwhelmingly indicates that rent control only benefits current renters while wreaking havoc on the entire housing market. That fact alone should have killed off rent control in Minneapolis a long time ago, especially after what happened to St. Paul after the adoption of rent control.

If members of the Minneapolis city council are serious about addressing high housing costs, they need to address fees and regulations which create delays and raise the cost of housing development. Rent control is not the solution.