Letters for May 28 

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

Page 3 of 6

David Altschul, Berkeley

A Sense of Entitlement

I don't get it. The landlord is spending a million dollars to fix up the building and he cant raise the rents by $381 a month? And the rents are still quite a bit under market? I guess the tenants have had a pretty good deal, but do they get to have it forever? Rent control should work to keep things reasonable, not to transfer a permanent right to reduced rent.

Kurt Schoeneman, Boonville

No Income, No Improvements

As a person who for fourteen years lived in a rent-controlled apartment and then had to move when a disruptive neighbor moved in next door and the landlord would do nothing to resolve the situation for me, I understand the pain and resentment of the tenants in this story and the shock and difficulty of having to move into a rental market where rents are now 50-100 percent more than what we have been paying. However, the tenant's pain and economic difficulties are not fairly placed at the feet of one particular property owner, the new landlord. The cost of living in the Bay Area is very high and it is difficult to make ends meet, but private property owners cannot be expected to subsidize everyone who is challenged by these circumstances. I used to think all landlords were rich and could afford to do this: now I'm a landlord, I've had tenants who make three or four times as much as I do, and I know that some property owners like myself just scrape by. Even property owners who are wealthy should not be obliged to provide economic support to those of modest means. These difficult economic issues that many face are real, are cause for national concern, but they won't be solved by requiring people to conduct business at lower than market rates. Perhaps we should all be talking about a portion of renter's rent being allowed as a deduction from gross income level on their tax returns, much as property owners can deduct mortgage interest, or making the standard deduction or single exemption much larger, or not taxing people who earn less than $30,000 per year. We can find ways to provide greater financial support to those of modest means, which we all contribute toward, rather than expecting landlords to singly take on this subsidizing effort.

As the article points out, when people can't make decent income in purchasing rental property, they will either not invest, or will not keep up their properties.

Deborah Cloudwalker, Oakland

We Can End the Insanity of Rent Control

The definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior while expecting different results.Rent control is no longer a new experiment. We know what happens. Why keep repeating the same mistake? Insanity!

The few places in the US that have tried it know it follows the law of unintended consequences, like so many other very complex economic processes.

It doesn't help most poor people. New rents skyrocket. Poor people have to move more often and are punished each time. It actually drives out minorities and poor people in part because they can't afford the new rent when they have to move. And the supply of vacant units plummets because maintenance and new construction of rental housing plummet while wealthier tenants are discouraged from moving even when they need to.

We criticize extremists in national government for ignoring science while we applaud local activists for ignoring what almost every economist knows is basic science. Rent control backfires!

Middle-class voters WANT rent control to work because THEY DON'T HAVE TO PAY TO HELP HOUSE POOR PEOPLE. They shift the burden to landlords, they think. But the problems only get worse and the solution becomes more obvious. Subsidize the people that really need it and not all the other tenants. But everyone will have to pay a little more in taxes. I'm willing, if the problem is actually addressed. Are you?

Yes on Prop 98 and No on Prop 99 in June. Phase out rent control gradually. Protect all existing tenants. And stop the abuse of eminent domain, as well. Only after rent control is gone will we and our legislators face the real issue: helping to house poor tenants with a fair, effective subsidy system.

The Federal Section 8 voucher system works, for example. Rent control does not. One out of every six rental units in Oakland is subsidized under Section 8. If that's not enough, let's expand it.

But let's get busy with real solutions, not symbolism.

Otto B. Alau, Oakland

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