Letters to the Editor

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In response to the landlords’ complaints about regulation, I would like to talk about the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used in the annual rent increase calculation.

The federal government provides an annual index of inflation based on the primary human expenses. This index is a weighted average of standardized personal expenses, Shelter (housing) makes up 33 percent. Shelter is made up of the equivalent cost of the landlords’ property, the cost to the renter, cost of other lodging and renter’s insurance.

Each year, landlords have cost increases, forcing them to raise rents. If they were limited to the index of inflation (as is part of the new regulations), they would be limited to only the average of all rentals in their area. In this case, all landlords would raise rates the same percentage, so we could all plan on the financial burden. Hopefully, we all get a cost-of-living raise.

Looking at the current proposed regulations, landlords can increase rent by the CPI plus 7 percent. As of July 2019, the U.S. Annual CPI Shelter Index was 3.5 percent. So, any new agreements would all be 10.5 percent higher! Landlords get a 7 percent bonus on top of their increase in cost to provide housing. They also get to deduct interest, depreciation, repairs, personal property, business travel, office, employees, insurance, legal and 20 percent of rental income from pretax annual income.

How many homeowners can afford a 10.5 percent increase in their monthly mortgage payments? Renters, know your rights! Check out California’s tenant laws online.


Randy Watkins

As I write this, I am suddenly aware of how much I know about education and how little respect is shown for what I know.

In fact, my knowledge is unwelcome because it represents a threat to the educational establishment. What I believe is that our young people are not being taught to think but instead, taught to pass tests.

The people who make up these tests have decided what is important. That is, if you don’t know the significance of 1492, 1607 or Dec. 7, 1941, you are illiterate. We are teaching our young people to know what is inside the box but not know why the Viet Cong might not have been the “bad guys” after all. 

We need students in the United States who refuse to accept the idea that they become a “loser” when they attend a junior college or trade school. We need students who don’t worry about their SAT scores or look down on those who end up with a trade like fixing plumbing or remodeling kitchens.  

The elitist thinking that has parents paying their kids’ ways into the Ivy League or other colleges of choice is destroying the basis of democracy. The underpinnings of our society are based upon the idea that all men and women, too, are created equal. 


Ashley Jones

I read with interest and some misgivings your description of the proposed makeover of South Shore Center (“South Shore Center Makeover Planned,” Aug. 15). Enjoyed the historical synopsis of building it, renovations, ownership history and names. Although I am aware that shopping centers are losing business to online vendors, this is certainly an ambitious change that raises many questions.  

I thought there was a height limit to buildings in Alameda, but the two- or three-story limit that I thought (imagined?) was in effect is already being topped. 

Then, as the Alameda Sun reported (“Lum Decision Announced,” May 25, 2017), the nearby Lum Elementary School closed precipitously because it sits on land that is said to be prone to liquefaction in a 7.1 or greater earthquake. The Lum campus consists of one-story frame buildings. 

My family lives on Shore Line Drive and shares the earthquake hazards of shaking and liquefaction with Lum and South Shore Center. According to the U.S. Dept. of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) latest maps, we all are on land very likely to liquefy and be prone to maximum shaking during a major quake. Our house was built and we bought it before this information was readily available, but the information is here now. And of course, the devil is in the details.  

Jamestown, the present owners, have their headquarters in New York, I understand. They look at their records and see black ink turning to red, and believe the solution is this proposal. They have no feel for the community that is Alameda. Then, the Planning Board and City Council usually ignore local concerns, or even city-wide concerns, and look at the taxes the city will garner.  

They seem to give a variance to any builder or developer instead of demanding mandated parking, for instance, and other amenities for the public that would cost the developer money. Remember the ridiculous ploy of substituting bus passes for parking in one such development? 
Could you clarify the height limit laws in Alameda? 


Roger Ecker

Editor’s note: Please see part three of the series on South Shore’s planned redevelopment on the front page that discusses the Planning Board’s and City Council’s roles in the process.