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Let’s face it. The underlying issue, the only issue, was fear of the homeless in our neighborhood. This was polarizing. In the letters to the Alameda Sun, some supporters of Measure B characterized the homeless as mentally ill, drug users and convicts who should be forcibly kept out of Alameda. The extreme other view asked how supporters of Measure B would have treated a singular homeless person in history, Christ.

Many Alamedans would recognize my face as the person at their door the past few months, engaging with them to vote “yes” on Measure A and “no” on Measure B. “Engage” means to listen before speaking. If you ignore the repugnant rhetoric from the Friends of Crab Cove (FOCC), there were thoughtful and compassionate supporters of Measure B who had legitimate concerns about the location.

I believe that the Alameda Point Collaborative shares the legitimate concerns, as they should. To ignore the risks is to invite them to happen. That applies to FOCC, as well. 

There was a time when FOCC engaged in a positive way with Alameda Point Collaborative, before FOCC’s attorney instructed the group to stop. Now is the time to reengage. Time for FOCC to bring forward legitimate concerns. Time for Alameda Point Collaborative to listen. Time to knuckle down and address the legitimate concerns as neighbors — because neighbors you are.


Frank Tiesma

Dear Marisa Kendall:
I read your story about rent control in Alameda and I have some concerns. I am a housing provider in Alameda and have been actively involved with the debate for many years. I have found that stories like yours, ones I feel contain zero facts, actually do more harm than good for renters. Let me explain. 

First, without private businesses offering housing, we would be left with only government-owned housing and we all know how that works. We need to bridge the gap between renters and housing providers, not pit them against one another. 

Next, in my opinion, articles like these exploit children. Do you really think the child in the story has any clue about supply and demand or risk/reward in business? Did you attempt to contact a housing provider for more information before publishing? You can use emotion to get people angry, but when they get all the facts, it makes bias crystal clear.

In my opinion only more housing will lower rent. Rents are very cyclical and in 2001, rents fell 30 percent and remained low until 2011, a full decade. Factor in years when rents were low and then factor in Consumer Price Index (CPI), over the last 20 years, rents were up about 2 percent over CPI. 

Now, take into consideration that Alamada is about 40 percent landfill, the risk of a total loss is very high. This is not greed, this is just being able to pay the bills and provide needed housing. No apartments are being built on the former Alameda Naval Air Station because developers were scared off by the threat of rent control. It just doesn’t make any sense to build there. This is why rents are high — lack of supply — not “greedy landlords” as the article implies. 

Finally, is it really fair to tell one small group of business owners that they need to subsidize every renter in the city, regardless of how much they make? Is it fair that many of the rent-controlled apartments in San Francisco are occupied by high-income earners who never move, hurting those that need the help most? 

Shouldn’t we be going after the ones who are really responsible for this problem — the large employers that keep adding jobs but fail to do their part in alleviating the housing shortage they created? Shouldn’t they be required to pay fees that can be given to low-income renters? 

I can provide all the facts and data that support my comments. I also suggest taking a look at what just happened recently in Mountain View. They approved the demolition of 55 rent-controlled apartments because the owner wanted out of the rental business due to regulations. This is not an isolated incident and you will see the direct effect of less housing due to rent control.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope all the facts are included before you publish another story solely intended on inflaming the reader rather than reporting facts. That is what we expect from the Mercury News’ designated “housing” reporter.


Doug Smith

Editor’s note: the article Smith is responding to is titled “The kids aren’t all right: How the housing crisis hurts the Bay Area’s youngest residents.” Read the article here http://tinyurl.com/y36e3pl9.

The last time I sang “The Ballad of Dennis Peron” it was at Peron’s San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club. I’m going to sing it at The Local café in Alameda today, Thursday, April 18, as part of a routine that tells how we got from Proposition 215 in 1996 — the initiative that legalized marijuana for medical use in California — to the complex set of regulations and taxes that prevail today.

In 1996, I was working at UCSF Medical Center and moonlighting as a freelancer. I got an assignment from the New Yorker to write about the Prop 215 campaign.

The measure had been drafted in 1995 by grassroots activists meeting at Dennis Peron’s club. He served as the original Prop 215 campaign manager. He assumed that the necessary signatures could be gathered by club members and activists circulating petitions throughout the state on a volunteer basis. He assumed wrong. As of January 1996, they were way short on signatures.

Enter George Soros and other enlightened billionaires like Peter Lewis of Progressive Insurance, John Sterling of the University of Phoenix and Laurance Rockefeller. They sent an emissary to California offering to fund a professional signature drive on the condition that Peron be replaced by a campaign manager of their choosing.

Covering the Prop 215 campaign I got to know Tod Mikuriya, M.D., a Berkeley-based psychiatrist and historian who had re-discovered and published the pre-prohibition medical journal articles on cannabis. “It wasn’t just marijuana that got prohibited,” he said, “it was the truth about history.”
Mikuriya documented that marijuana was useful in treating a wide range of conditions — for which he got ridiculed on national TV as practicing “Cheech and Chong science.” Today we know that compounds in the herb impact the most prevalent network of receptors in the body — the endocannabinoid system.

Meet me at the Local, 1333 Park St., at 7 p.m. tonight to learn more.


Fred Gardner