Letters for May 28 

Readers debate the rent squabble at 138 Monte Cresta, plus which side are truckers on.

Page 2 of 6

As a tenant of an apartment building a few streets away from 138 Monte Cresta and a longtime resident of Oakland, I have watched, in horror, at the havoc Mr. Cox and his relentless construction and renovations have subjected the neighborhood and his tenants to. How convenient, that he managed to find a loophole that will, if permitted to stand, reap him huge profits off of the backs of the very tenants he has abused — that is, what remains of them. If the Oakland rent board is spineless enough to countenance his tactics and not set limits on the amount of interest landlords are permitted to pass onto their renters, the floodgates will open and the rest of us will be drowned in the speculation to follow.

Eloise Hill, Oakland

Who Is the Liberal?

Even though I assume most of the tenants consider themselves Democrats and liberals, it appears that they have that Republican mindset of not wanting to pay for what they use. They are upset that the building has been somewhat neglected, yet when a new owner comes in and attempts to fix the building they cry foul and do not want to pay their fair share. I am amazed at how low their rents appear before and after what the new owner has asked for, especially in that area. Rent control is needed, but if landlords cannot get fair rents then rental property will shrink in the Bay Area. Then where will these renters go?

Mike Santos, Alameda

An Analogy

Buying a building then trying to justify raising rents to cover your cost is analogous to murdering your parents, then trying to throw yourself on the mercy of the courts because you are an orphan.

Steve Juniper, Berkeley

Do You Know How Shoddy Local Apartments Are?

I moved to Berkeley from Minneapolis in January and got my first taste of the Bay Area apartment market. I am now against rent control and for increased density via weakening height restrictions and encouraging new construction.

Apartments here are the lowest quality and landlord/tenant relations are the most adversarial that I've seen. Also, as a recent transplant and postdoc, I am paying top dollar for my place and probably will not be around long enough for rent control to work for me.

I've heard many people say that rent control helps lower-income people with housing. However, by its very nature, rent control benefits people who can stay in the same apartment for decades on end. These people are usually more financially secure than people who have to move around a lot or have just arrived on the job market and often didn't need the help in the first place.

I've also heard many people talk about the magical "communities" that exist in the Bay Area that would be destroyed if rent control were abolished. Hate to break it to you, but any reasonably large/dense city/metro area has "neighborhoods" and "communities" and I really haven't noticed anything special here in this regard. And my interaction with the people in my building really hasn't changed from when I was in the Twin Cities.

Related to the above paragraph is the notion that increasing density or weakening height restrictions would "ruin" the Bay Area somehow. Honestly, I don't see how adding a story or two on top of the average building would change the scenery much. You'd still have Marin County, Muir Woods, etc., and I really can't see the bay from my downtown Berk apartment as is.

Oh yeah, you people that say there's "infinite demand" here because San Francisco is God's Own Paradise and everyone's just DYING to get a chance to move here ... please. This is a reasonably dense metro area that's pretty. Boston, NYC, etc., kick its ass when it comes to public transit. As for the weather, winter in parts of the country that have discovered insulation is just fine for the 98 percent of the time you're inside (another reason to have more modern construction here). I moved here for a job at Berkeley. I'll probably leave when that's finished.

Brendon Rhoades, Berkeley

Apartment Wanted in Brigadoon

Here's the paragraph that somehow was omitted from Jesse Nathan's lengthy cover story:

"Back in 1996, when one of the building's newest tenants moved in, property tax was _____, routine maintenance cost _____, and _____ was spent on building renovations. Last year those overhead costs were _____, _____, and _____ respectively. If tenants who don't want to be fiscally responsible for the benefits they enjoy succeed in making it financially impossible to own rental property in Oakland, the resulting abandonment of property will not only deprive the whole city of needed tax revenue, but will decrease the housing supply and drive up prices for everyone. Renters who believe they have a right to rent in an environment free of economic change should look to rent in Brigadoon."


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