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Rent control repeal a bad deal

May 21, 2008

Re "Prop. 99's false promise of reform," Opinion, May 19

I almost gagged on my coffee as I read Ilya Somin's screed lambasting Proposition 99 and supporting Proposition 98.

Somin attempts to argue that Proposition 98 protects renters and Proposition 99 does not. Yet he conveniently omits the fact that Proposition 98 would phase out all local rent control ordinances. It seems the Howard Jarvis mentality is that property owners should be protected by limitations on both the rate of taxation and annual increases, but renters are not entitled to the same consideration.

Proposition 98 would deepen the chasm between the "haves" and "have-nots."

Robert L. Stein

Irvine

Re "Where're the lawmakers?" Opinion, May 15

Patt Morrison's column rightly warns voters of the dire consequences of Proposition 98. However, when she urges voters to "strike for better voting conditions" as a way to protest a flawed initiative process, she is risking the passage of the very initiative she scorns.

The authors of Proposition 98 chose the June 3 election as the best time to get their constitutional amendment passed because the expected low voter turnout would help their side. Proposition 98 would be a disaster for California's renter and environmental protections, and we who oppose it must encourage our friends and families to make our voices heard.

Richard Kraft

West Hollywood

Re "Right a wrong, support Prop. 98," letter, May 14

Rent control is theft? Like holding up landlords at gunpoint? Is professor Gary M. Galles serious?

Rent control would be theft only if landlords had a right to a specific amount of rental income. But in the course I am currently taking with Galles at UCLA Extension, he has taught me that there is no fixed fair price for anything.

Suppose a developer builds a large apartment complex in anticipation of population growth that doesn't occur. Or suppose a factory closes and some of the workers move out of town. Either scenario would lead to an oversupply of rental housing and lower rents. Have the developer and factory owner stolen from local landlords? Of course not. But the effect of such market fluctuations on landlords' income is the same as rent control, more so than a holdup at gunpoint.

Rent control may or may not be bad policy, but it is not theft. Economics is a science whose findings may help us decide political issues, but this sort of hyperbole is not helpful.

Larry Nathenson

West Los Angeles

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