Letters to the Editor

Registered users may submit a Letter to the Editor after they first log in.

The Rotary Club of Alameda would like to invite the public to our Lobster Dinner and Silent Auction Charity Fundraiser on March 25 with a no-host cocktail hour at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m., at the Elks Lodge Rathskeller, 2255 Santa Clara Ave. Money raised will go to our non-profit arm, the Alameda Rotary Endowment Foundation, to support our annual Alameda Community Grants Program, benefiting many Alameda charities.

You can purchase tickets at $75 each preferably by mailing a check, made out to Alameda Rotary Endowment Foundation, to PO Box 2403, Alameda, CA 94501, or purchase tickets online at our website https://portal.clubrunner.ca/4362. Payment must be received by March 17, but don’t wait to purchase your tickets as the event is sure to sell out. Bring your checkbook for the silent auction.

Please join us and support your favorite non-profits in town like Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter, Alameda Music Project, Lincoln Middle School band, Building Futures (which supports the Midway Shelter), Rhythmix Cultural Works, Alameda Museum, Alameda Education Foundation, Operation Dignity, Frank Bette Center for the Arts, Girls Inc., Bike Walk Alameda, Alameda Boys & Girls Club, Friends of Alameda Parks & Recreation, Students on the Set, REAP Center, Alameda Backyard Growers, and Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda.

— Joyce Mercado, Rotary Club of Alameda President-Elect

On May 12, 2022, the Alameda Sun printed a letter from me that pointed out the many shortcomings of the current traffic configuration on Park Street. On Feb. 19, 2023, during a 4 1/2-hour power outage, while two of our bridges were closed, our two-lane street became a parking lot, a true bottleneck!

I was told that a fire truck on an emergency call could not get through. Based on what I read on Facebook, many Alamedans are as irate as I am over this unacceptable situation. Rise up Alameda! Make your voices heard. It’s time for Park Street to return to a four-lane street, as was originally intended. City of Alameda leaders, are you listening?

— Stanley Voogd

The Alameda Sun reported that “An Alameda landlord will be forced to pay their (sic) former tenants a large settlement for committing several tenant harassment violations…”

As announced by “The Prosecution and Public Rights Unit of the Alameda City Attorney’s Office,” the landlord must pay $70,000 for violating harassment laws including $47,000 to the tenant family in the form of a cash payment plus credit for unpaid rent…”

Upon reading “unpaid rent” I wondered if the tenant was paying the rent or if the rent was unpaid. After getting into a tiff with an Alameda landlord the “unpaid rent” could quickly surpass $18,000; that would be quite a windfall if a sympathetic City Attorney gives you “credit for unpaid rent.”

Going back to the word “harassment.” Could “harassment” be a synonym for dunning, as in: “The landlord was dunning the tenant for ‘unpaid rent?’” Perhaps the landlord was “pestering” the tenant for “unpaid rent,” or demanding “unpaid rent.”

The risk of being penalized $70,000 without the benefit of a jury would scare the bejesus out of any landlord trying to collect “unpaid rent.” It might be prudent to let the tenant live rent free. Was there a jury involved in this $70,000 adjudication? The Constitution reads “a jury of his or her peers.” Was there a jury which included at least one, maybe two landlords?

As reported “… the city received $23,000 for civil penalties and its costs and fees.” Not bad for a day’s work; $23,000 is a big piece of the action. Running shakedowns of landlords could be a secondary business, an additional revenue stream, for an avaricious City Hall; it certainly beats squeaking by on paltry parking ticket collections.

Our City Attorney reminds us that “The City of Alameda has a strong policy of protecting and preserving affordable housing in our community.” Such a claim seems at odds with denying a landlord “unpaid rent” and pocketing $23,000 of that landlord’s money. How is riding rough shod over a landlord “protecting and preserving affordable housing?”

It seems that Alameda is hostile to the very people who provide affordable housing. While the city of Alameda takes credit for affordable housing, it is the vulnerable landlord who is taking all the risks, both financially and reputationally.

The city looks like a savior or Robin Hood, the tenant running up a debt with “unpaid rent” looks like an innocent victim, and the landlord, actually providing housing to Alameda, looks like a villain.

According to the City of Alameda, landlords who have been stiffed or cheated by a tenant “have a lawful way to persuade their tenant to vacate … It is called a ‘buyout.’” The aggrieved landlord, after giving up on collecting the existing debt accrued by “unpaid rent,” sacrifices even more money by bribing that same tenant to give up his or her tenancy and move elsewhere.

One Alameda landlord I know, in addition to sacrificing “unpaid rent,” had to write a disingenuous favorable letter of recommendation to get a tenant to vacate her rental property.

Rather than punishing landlords for their collection efforts, the City or Alameda should step in and front the rent money for people who have “unpaid rent” and collect it from that tenant in accordance with city law.

— Jeffrey R Smith