Vacancy decontrol good for Berkeley
Michael Katz’s recent letter (Restore local home rule over rent stabilization), exemplifies the irrationally exuberant tenant activist behavior that has brought nothing but chaos to Berkeley’s housing market since the late Seventies.
Vacancy decontrol has improved Berkeley’s neighborhoods by opening up rental housing and providing upgraded units to renters who would normally be shut out in an over-regulated market.
But Katz and his cohorts want to revert to the old system, where owners were forced to rent vacant units at hysterically below-market levels, providing lunacy and chaos to rental housing instead of upgraded apartments. Perhaps Katz has visions about becoming a game show host on “who wants to live in a rent-controlled apartment in Berkeley?”
Katz would like all of us to think that vacancy decontrol distorts the housing market by creating new incentives for tenants to hold onto rent-controlled units. In fact, Katz, and thousands like him, would be just as likely to hold onto their enviable situation regardless of vacancy decontrol.
Katz is, no doubt, a long-term tenant, enjoying perhaps the strictest protections ever offered in any American municipality, with a life-estate to the apartment in which he lives at a frozen rent most people only dream of. For some strange reason, he expects to pass legislation forcing his landlord to offer the same unrealistic terms to the next tenant who comes along, in the unlikely event that Mr. Katz vacates his gold mine.
The abolition of vacancy decontrol will create, once-and-for-all, the seeds for the permanent destruction of rental housing in Berkeley. If Mr. Katz has his wish, you can kiss goodbye the thought of ever finding an apartment in Berkeley again. And Mr. Katz will be one of the primary beneficiaries of that mayhem.
Tower cartoons a bit off target
Your cartoon artist is very good and is to be commended for addressing local issues. However, as an opponent of the McKinley Street tower I think two recent cartoons were off the mark.
The tower is not just a NIMBY issue (cartoon of April 5) but in fact a citywide issue where a too-tall ugly structure was put up almost instantly.
Last Friday’s cartoon seems to accept the notion that the tower must be put SOMEwhere in Berkeley. Wrong!
The city is now funding no less than $50,000 to find a proper way to upgrade the city’s radio communication system, and the city manager now believes that the tower will come down (Daily Planet, May 24).
Ruling is a threat to legal abortion
You reported on June 1st that a Berkeley man was convicted of three murders – that of his girlfriend, his child and the woman’s fetus. Are you sure that the killing of a fetus can be prosecuted as murder? This was a terrible act but we tread on dangerous ground when we call it murder. The next step is to make abortions illegal.
Editor’s Note: Michael Manjeet Singh was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder.