Letters for August 5 

Readers sound off on our review of Lettucetown Lies, what's killing soul food restaurants, and our news coverage.

Page 2 of 4

I was happy to see analysis of the differential impacts the recession has had on restaurants in Oakland. It makes sense to me that while lots of folks have foodie dreams, some are better equipped with experience, connections, and just plain cash to ride out and prepare for the tough patches. Like a lot of stuff, race and class seems to figure into the equation.

Perhaps like the closing of the Parkway and the privileging of banks over local first-time homebuyers, two topics you've also featured, what we're seeing is that our local governments don't seem too interested in encouraging the small and local to thrive. And I confess I haven't done much to work on changing that myself, though it's affected my quality of life.

I was thinking as I read the restaurant article that there are two restaurants in a similar food category — Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland and Pican on Broadway — that seem to be thriving. I wonder how their situation compares with those profiled in the article? Are there tips that could be passed on and used by struggling restaurants, or is their success the result of some of the disturbing patterns we're seeing already locally? I sure hope it's the former.

Irene Nexica, Oakland

"Foreclosure and Its Aftereffects," Feature, 6/24

We Need a Sequel

32.7 percent of all mortgages in Oakland will be foreclosed from Jan. 2007 to Jan 2010.

Your article is fascinating and well done.

I went to epodunk.com and looked up Oakland. According to their data there are 40,565 owner-occupied houses in Oakland with "mortgage or contractto purchase." That is 64.9 percent of the total owner-occupied housing, about the California average. Your article states that 5,677 foreclosures happened from 1/07 to 4/09, and another 7,500 are in process. Total foreclosures in three years would be 13,277 when completed, and that is 32.7 percent of all mortgaged homes in Oakland.

With 2.8 residents in each house, that is about 37,000 people, or about 10 percent of the population of Oakland.

How many foreclosed houses are in the flatlands? Would this statement be true: "About half the homes in the Oakland flatlands will have beenforeclosed on in a three-year period, January 2007 to January 2010." I wonder if there is data on the average city's foreclosure rate? How does this impact the City of Oakland's budget? I hope you follow up your article with an article on the City of Richmond and the effect of their law prohibiting eviction uponforeclosure. Will Oakland pass a similar law? Is there data on resale of houses? Why are not those properties immediately put up for rent? Maybe going back to the Housing and Economic Rights Advocates would yield more info. KPFA has had some housing rights advocates from eastern Contra Costa on the Morning Show.

Foreclosures in the nation proceed at a rate of about 300,000 a month, almost the same as last month's increase in unemployment. Equity sharein US housing is down to 44 percent and when fully owned homes are excluded, the equity share is about 25 percent. (I can't give the source of this info, but I read Dollars and Sense Magazine, so maybe that's where I saw it.) The banks own the other 75 percent. That's why our government gives them allthe bailout money.

For some radical economic solutions, see my blog, http://benL8.blogspot.com.

In any case, a sequel is needed.

Ben Leet, San Leandro

Miscellaneous Letters

Bring Back the 'Toons

I used to pick up the East Bay Express. Then you dropped the cartoons, most notably Tom Tomorrow, and I stopped. Haven't picked one up since. But if you brought the cartoons back ...


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