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Low-Cost Housing and Rent Control

July 01, 1994

As a former executive director of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, I found Prof. Peter Dreier's column ("Rent Control Myths and Landlord Money," Commentary, June 17) severely flawed and misleading in his criticism of Assemblyman Jim Costa's (D-Hanford) rent reform legislation. AB 1320 is a bipartisan effort to solve the problems of owners and tenants created by vacancy controls, the most extreme form of rent control. Contrary to Dreier's claims, AB 1320 helps those residents whom vacancy control was initially intended to help.

In Berkeley, census data shows that the number of rental housing units available for families with children, minorities, lower income, less-educated residents and college students significantly decreased in the 1980s, and the same is true for Santa Monica. Meanwhile, rental households with higher income, higher educated professional workers have increased. This is fact. Dreier's anecdotal musings are not.

AB 1320 will prevent vacancy controls on new housing and single family homes, and thus spur construction in the unfortunate few cities with the burdensome regulation. Significantly, AB 1320 will also do away with the bloated, expensive and inefficient taxpayer-financed rent control boards that inflict the pain of vacancy control on their city's economies.


Black Property Owners of Berkeley

After reading the article, one can tell that Dreier is a professor with his head in the clouds of academia and does not know whereof he speaks.

Mr. Dreier, take a drive around any city in Orange County (we do not have rent control). There are "for rent" signs on almost every block. Read the rental ads--move-in specials everywhere. These are decent buildings in decent areas. I am charging the rates I got three years ago, because we are governed by a market economy. Then go take a look at New York City and see what rent control (in effect since World War II) hath wrought.


Costa Mesa

Re "Housing Providers Miss Golden Chance," June 21:

How pathetic! While developers and even mom-and-pop outfits hustle to buy these bargain-priced foreclosed apartment buildings, relying on private financing and investment at an average price of $37,000 a unit, taxpayer dollars are freely spent at a rate of $150,000 a unit for "low-income dwellings."

To top it all, various groups, including government agencies, cannot find a way to cut through the inefficiency and compete with the swiftness of the private sector. Their only solution is efforts to slow down the sales by banks (at a cost to the banks) so that government agencies can take their customary sweet time for approvals upon approvals. In the meantime, we taxpayers have to pay a 400% premium for those units and the direct beneficiaries have to wait for several years longer to occupy them.

One has to wonder how the public can be convinced to trust any health plan involving the government in any phase of its operation. Now it is not our shelter that is at stake, it is our lives!


Los Angeles

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