Letters: No entitlement to live in San Francisco

“Rent control is not the problem,” Opinion, May 17
No entitlement to live in San Francisco

Sara Shortt’s support of rent control rings a bit hollow. Had she written it being a landlord it would have carried some weight, but writing as a renter supporting rent control is merely self-serving.

Shortt makes the same error that is often made by other rent-control supporters when she speaks of people being forced to leave their homes. It is not “their” home. If you rent a car from Avis it is not your car. The car belongs to Avis, the same as the apartment or house belongs to the landlord, not the tenant. The tenant and landlord negotiate a rate and time period that allows the renter to occupy the owner’s apartment. When that time period expires they renegotiate.

It is certainly more life-changing to have to “turn in” an apartment than a rental car, but after you clear away all the emotional smoke it boils down to the same thing. Supervisor Julie Christensen certainly didn’t do herself any political favors with her phraseology, but I suspect her remarks reflected a belief that no developer would purchase and rehab a rent-controlled building nor would they build any new units knowing they would be under a rent-controlled policy. If you can’t increase the supply of rental units in the face of increasing demand there is no way to keep rents from rising.

There are other avenues of developing affordable units such as giving developers increased density in exchange for a percentage of affordable units or requiring them to contribute to an affordable housing fund in order to build their project. The hard thing for Shortt and others to accept is that some people do not have the economic means to survive in the Bay area. There is no entitlement to live here. I believe that everyone should go to bed with a roof over their head, but it doesn’t have to be in one of the most expensive areas in the country.

Steven Howard
Redwood City

“Voting doesn’t have to suck in America,” The City, May 10
Changing the way we vote

Regarding Joel Engardio’s column, I have recently come in contact with a group from Buenos Aires who have started something they call “Democracy Operating System” or DemocracyOS. Their website is www.democracyos.org.

Their idea is to get democracy online. In fact, Supervisor Mark Farrell already has used their software as a way of staying in touch with his constituency at markfarrell.democracyos.org.

Another approach they are trying is the formation of something called the Net Party in which party members try to elect somebody who will solely follow the dictates of those who have registered with this party, thus circumventing the monied interests altogether.

Mike Zonta
San Francisco

“Schools focus of next budget,” The City, May 11
Prop. 13 must be modified for sake of school funding

I was pleased to read about Gov. Jerry Brown’s move to increase school funding. Despite recent increases in government revenues, however, the big problem is what future sources of government income will be dependable for school funding.

In this regard, the elephant in the room remains Proposition 13, which crippled school funding. Since 1978, California has gone from one of the highest state spenders on K-12 funding to one of the worst — 49th in per pupil spending, according to EdSource, which keeps track of such funding.

What is needed is modification of Prop. 13’s gift to commercial real estate. Big commercial organizations consistently manipulate the law to avoid the increase in taxes allowed when property is transferred. This was not the intent of voters in passing Prop 13. And it must change, if California students are to receive the funding needed for a proper education in the 21st century.

John M. Kelly
San Francisco

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