A Few More Observations On Rent Control

Friday July 09, 2004

As a Berkeley landlord for some 37 years I offer some hopefully relevant observations.  


1. Today the Berkeley Rent Control Ordinance is now both unnecessary and a total waste of precious funds. I have a vacancy that I have priced in line with comparable units. People arrive armed with a long list of vacancies and make a decision here as they would on deciding what computer or gasoline or food product to buy. There is no scarcity of available units and no need for government regulation. 

2. I believe that the elected Rent Board consists of a group who mostly believe any rent increase is not appropriate for those “greedy” owners. 

3. I think that the elected Rent Board has a mission to preserve their domain regardless of need or expense. 

4. On checking the Internet I find that an overwhelming majority of economists oppose rent control. 

5. There is a distinction between rent control and Berkeley rent control. When current commissioners of the board defending their domain cite cities having rent control, this distinction is not made clear. 

6. There has been a close connection between the so-called progressives on the City Council and the elected Rent Board.  

7. I find the term “progressive” that the City Council majority is characterized by is a total misuse of the word. It suggests a group deserving of support whether such support is warranted or not. I think that a more accurate designation is “leftist” as a group favoring government regulation and control over markets. 

8. I am quoting from part of the first paragraph of Rent Board Chair Max Anderson’s May 25 opinion piece in the Berkeley Daily Planet. Anderson has announced his candidacy for the City Council. “The season of political sophistry is well underway in Berkeley as it is across the nation. Evidence of this can be seen in John Koenigshofer’s less than rational, less than honest anti-rent control rant.” Other terms used by Anderson are “tirade,” “Ashcroftesque invasion,” “economic greed,” “disregard of the facts,” “real estate ideologues,” and “distorted attack on rent control.” Does this appear to represent a reasonable and thoughtful individual who is qualified to serve on the City Council? 

9. I am in agreement with most of Allbert Sukoff’s 20 points in your June 29-July 2 issue. Undoubtedly the leftists will want verbally to crucify Sukoff but his points need to be discussed. We need more people, preferably non-landlords and non-tenants voicing opinions. 


Sig Cohn is a Berkeley resident and landlord.