Letters to the Editor
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
Please, Chicken Littles of the City Council, Alameda is not about to drown. What has been drummed into our brains for years about climate catastrophe are largely scare stories with questionable computer projections to back them up. Not the sort of thing rational people should base policy upon, no matter how popular they may be.
It may be the case that the proverbial 97 percent of scientists agree that human-caused carbon dioxide has some effect on warming of the planet, but that’s different from saying we’re headed for disaster. Many reputable atmospheric scientists and physicists disagree with the scare scenarios but have been subjected to harassment and prevented from publication in an environment that reminds one of the Inquisition.
In my opinion, the Council would do well to hear from experts, physicists and climatologists like: Judith Curry, Freeman Dyson or Thomas Wysmuller, just to name a few.
We are all required to pass smog tests for our vehicles, like all good citizens we believe we are doing good. But I’d like to talk about a polluter, one that almost everyone loves: cruise ships.
I understand that these ships emit as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as 1 million cars in a single day and that they dump gallons of raw sewage weekly. Try breathing the air near these ships’ exhaust vents.
In addition, cargo ships generate tons of sulphur dioxide each year. Much of this pollution affects the coast and the northern hemisphere adding up to billions of tons of carbon dioxide a year.
Simply put, one single large cargo, cruise or container ship can emit as much carbon as 50 million vehicles in a year. Nothing is being done about that.
Then they make you feel guilty for not being responsible with your carbon footprint when you don’t pass a smog test.
Although we no longer offer property for rent in Alameda we are homeowners and are very concerned about the effect of further regulating the rental market on Alameda housing. Recent studies as well as long-held opinions by most economists show that, in the long run, rent control is detrimental to renters, housing providers and housing in general.
We urge each of you to take at least a few minutes to study the economics of rent control. A simple Internet search on the economics of rent control will yield links to articles and studies backing up these claims.
From www.econlib.org: “Economists are virtually unanimous in concluding that rent controls are destructive. In a 1990 poll of 464 economists published in the May 1992 issue of the American Economic Review, 93 percent of U.S. respondents agreed … that ‘a ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available.’ Similarly, another study reported that more than 95 percent of the Canadian economists polled agreed with the statement.”
From www.economist.com: “A case could be made that rent controls provide long-term security for renters, and tilt the balance of power away from landlords towards tenants. But economists, on both the left and the right, tend to disagree. As Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times in 2000, rent control is ‘among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and — among economists, anyway — one of the least controversial.’ Economists reckon a restrictive price ceiling reduces the supply of property to the market. When prices are capped, people have less incentive to fix up and rent out their basement flat, or to build rental property. Slower supply growth exacerbates the price crunch.”
From www.brookings.edu: “Rent control appears to help affordability in the short run for current tenants, but in the long-run decreases affordability, fuels gentrification and creates negative externalities on the surrounding neighborhood. These results highlight that forcing landlords to provide insurance to tenants against rent increases can ultimately be counterproductive. If society desires to provide social insurance against rent increases, it may be less distortionary to offer this subsidy in the form of a government subsidy or tax credit. This would remove landlords’ incentives to decrease the housing supply and could provide households with the insurance they desire.”
From the New York Times: “Economists have three main criticisms of rent control. They say it helps renters today at the expense of renters tomorrow. They also see it as a blunt instrument: While helping to stem economic displacement in the short term, it leads to long-run problems by encouraging landlords to exit the rental business, and future landlords to not enter. And it can divert resources from low-income renters to those with moderate and even high incomes.”
You may argue that these findings by economists are only theoretical and real people will be displaced without rent control but findings from a March 2019 study by some Stanford University professors: The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality, Evidence from San Francisco states, “Landlords treated by rent control reduce rental housing supplies by 15 percent by selling to owner-occupants and redeveloping buildings. Thus, while rent control prevents displacement of incumbent renters in the short run, the lost rental housing supply likely drove up market rents in the long run, ultimately undermining the goals of the law.”
Expanding the scope of Alameda’s Rent Stabilzation Ordinance 3148 may help some renters in the short term but you have been elected to serve all Alamedans and for the long term good of the city.
Regarding the upcoming meetings on this matter, please do the right thing for all Alamedans and let 3148 sunset or at least remain in its current form — a compromise we all may be able to live with.
The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter addressed to the Alameda City Council.