Kurt Schoeneman 
Member since May 8, 2008


Born in Oakland. Went to Oakland City College. Currently own and operate a vineyard in the Anderson Valley. Built 100+ apartments in Oakland in the… More »

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sort of retired

Updated on March 17, 2016 at 3:22 PM

Recent Comments

Re: “Oakland Housing Emergency

Oakland's politicians are afraid to vote for real changes to zoning laws which might create more housing because all the wailers about Oakland's housing crisis don't want new housing built next to them.

So they prate about stricter rent controls, subsidized affordable housing (no such thing) etc. Been doing it for a long time. Hasn't worked and it won't. Why not take a little risk and change the zoning laws in a truly liberal way? If it doesn't work you can go back to complaining and offering useless programs. If it works, well...

Posted by Kurt Schoeneman on 04/06/2016 at 3:16 PM

Re: “Why Is There a Housing Crisis?

One poster observed that "Let the market fix it" is a myth. No, you've never tried it. Most of the housing you use was built in a much more free market environment. Why do you keep doing the same things and expect a different result? Government sponsored affordable housing. Seen any lately? Rent controls destroy housing. If they are draconian enough people keep their rent controlled unit beyond their need. Land trusts - please.

And stop complaining when you are the problem, not speculators, profiteers, etc.

Re-zone the city. Developers will respond.

Posted by Kurt Schoeneman on 03/23/2016 at 6:56 PM

Re: “Why Is There a Housing Crisis?

Your description of the problem - solution:

"But the real "market distortions" propelling the crisis are inequality, speculation, financial bloat, tax havens, and more."

Really? Your prescriptions are the same old ones that haven't worked at all. How are you planning to fix inequality? How are you going to stop speculation? And what is financial bloat? Tax havens? Do you really think government can build affordable apartments and rent controls work?

You need more housing, more supply. Rezone Oakland and Berkeley and let builders build what they want where they want.

I am retired to a vineyard in the Anderson Valley, but I built 100 apartment in Oakland in the 1980's. They were affordable. They enhanced the neighborhoods I built in. Oakland and Berkeley's zoning ordinances have stopped affordable housing from being built. Yes supply is the answer, but land supply is the crucial component in creating more supply.

The reason there is a housing shortage is the nimbyism of Oakland and Berkeley neighborhoods. Folks don't want more and denser housing. OK. But don't complain about inequality and speculation when you have thwarted supply.

Try it. Re-zone Oakland's Rockridge and let builders build whatever they want. Or rezone the area around North Berkeley Bart to permit builders to create whatever they want.

It wont happen and folks like you will keep complaining and make it worse. By the way, government sponsored affordable housing costs twice as much as private development. I know because I built nicer apartments than non-profits did for half the cost.

Posted by Kurt Schoeneman on 03/23/2016 at 1:33 PM

Re: “Oakland Can't Afford to Wait

Dear Robert: The last two paragraphs of your piece are right on. No amount of non-profit built so-called affordable housing will make a dent in Oakland's housing shortage, but zoning laws permitting any kind of building in any location would, in short order, solve the problem.

In the 1980's I built about 100 affordable units in Oakland. My units were better than those built by non-profits and cost half as much. And they were truly affordable.

The last building boom in Oakland was when Oakland adopted the R-70 zoning scheme (most of Adam's point) in the sixties. Since then building has become more restrictive. I stopped building when I couldn't find land properly zoned.

I understand why residential neighborhoods are reluctant to permit higher densities. And not all of Oakland would have to be re-zoned, but much could be and the neighborhoods would not suffer for it. Change is frightening and there are always people who will oppose it, but my experience is that the neighborhoods I built in were improved with my structures.

Builders are not fools (for the most part) and have no desire to build junk and/or destroy a neighborhood. There are ways (design review) to control obviously bad development. But, the primary objective should be to truly encourage a building boom.

Oakland would be better for it. Most of the development in Oakland which everyone wants to rent control and save was developed when the rules were much less restrictive.

Posted by Kurt Schoeneman on 03/17/2016 at 3:18 PM

Re: “Family-Friendly Getaways 2015

Good choices. Also try camping at Hendy Woods State park in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino. Not too far away and you have the entire Mendocino Coast to explore. Also much wine tasting most of which is still free. Good restaurants too.

Posted by Kurt Schoeneman on 11/25/2015 at 3:14 PM

Re: “A Guide to Giving Back in the East Bay

All good choices. I like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oakland, as well. Check it out.

Posted by Kurt Schoeneman on 11/25/2015 at 3:10 PM

Re: “Where Are Students Supposed to Go?

Way back in 1964 my girlfriend attended Cal and had an apartment where the owner had a discount if she would agree to rent for the Summer and not just the school year. Most students just rented for the school year as apartments were plentiful and easy to obtain.

What changed? Well, more students for one. But maybe not so many more. Berkeley passed laws making it more difficult to build as many apartments on a given lot. Then they passed rent control which removed many apartments from the student market as rent drones proliferated.

Don't think so? Look into it.

Posted by Kurt Schoeneman on 11/25/2015 at 3:07 PM

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