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Housing’s plentiful this fall — but be prepared to pay plenty

By Jeffrey Obser Special to the Daily Planet
Tuesday August 28, 2001

UC Berkeley students face an easier housing search this fall than last in the wake of the dot-com bust, according to city and university housing officials and local rental agencies – but not necessarily a less expensive one. 

“A lot of people are leaving the Bay Area, and students are no longer competing as much with Silicon Valley and San Francisco computer employees,” said Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board member Paul Hogarth, who graduated from UC Berkeley last year. “That’s put the pressure for newly vacated units slightly down, but the talk about rents going down is a little overly optimistic.” 

Rents rose sharply throughout the Bay Area in the late 1990s, largely due to an influx of technology-industry employees. On Jan. 1, 1999, a state law ended vacancy control in Berkeley and landlords were free to raise rents to market levels when apartments turned over. (Under vacancy control, landlords were allowed to raise rents in Berkeley only as much as the Rent Stabilization Board permitted for the year, whether the apartment was vacated or not.) 

“We saw rents for newly-vacated apartments jump 40 percent in one year” as a result, Hogarth said, “and 2000 was worse.” The impact, he said, fell disproportionately on students, who move frequently. 

This year, however, rental experts say the trend appears to have turned around. Leah Summers, customer service director at, a rental agency serving the East Bay, said the agency had about 1,200 current listings compared to 400 six months ago. “There are studios