Readers Concerned About Lead Paint
They also have opinions on our person of the year.
Honored to be named Oakland Magazine’s Person of the Year. Appreciated the headline, “The Difference Maker, State Senator Gets Big Things Done.” Getting ready to make some more big differences in 2019.
Berkeley is lucky to be represented by such a principled, visionary, and effective leader. Looking forward to Senator Skinner’s leadership and collaboration with Berkeley this year.
—Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin
It was fascinating, although not in a good way, to read the health-related stories in your January issue. On page 13 [“Slow to Get the Lead Out”], we learn that Oakland has a childhood lead poisoning rate five times higher than that in the whole state, but that the city of Oakland hasn’t started its program to check older housing for lead paint because it “doesn’t have the financial resources.”
On page 23 [“It’s Drink Versus Drip”], there is a glowing article on intravenous infusions of vitamins. Each session costs hundreds of dollars for what the article cagily admits is unnecessary and lacking in evidence.
A call to the wealthy well: Your money could be used more wisely elsewhere in our own city!
Your article [“Slow to Get the Lead Out,” January] opens the conversation about lead poisoning in Oakland but fails to dig deep enough to help reach solutions.
The underlying issue is economics. Artificially low rents are, in fact, a system of forced rent subsidy for all tenants for life paid by all rental owners (“landlords” is an ancient inflammatory slander).
The system has tenants paying $900 a month to the owner for an apartment that owners, tenants, and waiting applicants agree really costs $2,000 a month. Forcing owners to pay the difference creates perverse incentives for tenants to avoid any repairs or improvements that could increase the rent.
Tenants afraid of eviction, you wrote? Hardly! Tenant attorneys have that shut off completely with the “just cause” laws they wrote. No, what tenants fear and keeps them from asking for lead abatement is the prospect of higher rent. Your “rent control” is only a crazy subsidy system that imprisons tenants, owners, and applicants seeking apartments.
Why are politicians dragging their feet? Because the crazy rent subsidy system they created (mislabeled “rent control”) is so delicately balanced that any improvements a city might require would upset the powerful activists represented in the article, because some tenants would move over even a $20 rent increase. While the whole rent subsidy system is likely to be thrown out soon by the Supreme Court, Oakland and other “rent subsidy” cities know they cannot add expenses to rental owners (lead abatement, seismic improvements, etc.) without allowing rent increases.
Cities without such “rent control” subsidies don’t have these problems. When they require lead abatement or seismic upgrades, for example, owners must pay. Period. If the rent is already at market, the owners cannot raise it more, so they have to just absorb it.
— R.J. Philips
Corrections and Clarifications
The correct link for the osprey cam on the Whirley Crain in Richmond [“Raptor Rapture,” January] is SFBayOspreys.org. The Newcomer article in January [“Ale Storms Brewing”] ended midsentence. Here’s the full last paragraph: Open since October, the boldly minimalistic, lofty-ceilinged space with airy ground-floor and intimate mezzanine seating sports 10 taps and serves a rotating selection of brews by the pint and to go. Wildcard Brewing Co., 1122 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-280-5728, WildcardBrewingco.com. Also, the name of the New Parish was misspelled in a Calendar item and entry in January.