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A City With a Serious Wait Problem; The Case for Printing Less-Controversial Stories

A City With a Serious Wait Problem
Drive me crazy, and step on it: Since cab companies are nothing more than glorified car rental agencies, their real customer is the cab driver who rents the cab and not members of the public ("Death and Taxis," Matt Smith, Aug. 16). Therefore, hiring additional phone answerers, simply to make life easier for those trying to ascertain the whereabouts of their cab, is not a priority. Almost half the cabs in S.F. do not belong to a dispatch service. If the Taxi Commission required this, more cabs would be available. Now, we resign ourselves to waiting all day for a cab, when the order was thrown away by the cab company 15 minutes after we called.
Jim Nakamura
Lower Haight

That, and more cabs: Your article on taxi service is quite accurate and informative. I am proud to be a San Francisco taxi driver for the past 19 years. As an owner-operator who waited patiently for 15 years to become one, I see central dispatch as the main solution to the taxi shortage.
Olivo Dallagiacoma
San Francisco

The Case for Printing Less-Controversial Stories
Selfish, selfish, selfish: I found Peter Byrne's article, "The Case for Ending Rent Control" (Aug. 9), to be truly abhorrent! What a sad, twisted, reductionist view of the world this guy must have, to suggest that longtime San Francisco residents are to blame for San Francisco's housing crisis because they are "hoarding" their rent-controlled apartments! And here I thought my motivation for staying put over the last 15 years was to enjoy having a place to call home and a community to which I belong.
Heidi Schwabe
Mission District

Can we go over that sewage thing again?: The quote your fine reporter, Peter Byrne, attributed to me, "People should go somewhere else," was taken out of context.

Knowledgeable observers understand that, with its present capability, the city is unable to provide the infrastructure to accommodate all the development it is now permitting without a severe decline in quality of life of those already residing here.

Quite simply, our water supply needs, water distribution and sewerage collection systems, sewage treatment capacity, landfill capacity, energy production needs, mass transit network, fire suppression and emergency services capabilities, and the state of our streets and roads cannot accommodate the current pace of development.

At some point, all of these systems will have to be extended; and someone will have to pay the huge costs associated with these extensions.

Of course no one is telling people not to come to San Francisco. But it is high time the leadership of this city opens an honest discussion with us citizens about growth and the costs of growth.
Joan Girardot
Past President, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods
San Francisco

Courageous? Nah. Heroic maybe: Thanks to Peter Byrne for his courageous analysis of San Francisco's flawed rent ordinance. I was most interested in Ted Dienstfrey's remedy: 1) higher yearly rent raises of 4 to 7 percent, 2) subsidies to low-income, elderly, and disabled from a fund made up of fees on new construction and landlords' gross receipts, and 3) permanent removal of a unit from rent control once the sitting tenant leaves. Sounds like a plan. Everyone would give a little, and the unintended and crippling byproducts of rent control would slowly fade away.
Karen Crommie

OK, OK, courageous: It took courage to document how the cure for the housing shortage problem has made the problem significantly worse. His analysis should be required reading for anyone pretending to be an expert on how to fix the housing crisis with still more controls and social engineering.
Ted Loewenberg

We found way more offensive things: What's most offensive about the [rent control] article is its dredging up of the old supply-and-demand theory for something as essential as housing. Where is the supply? The free market does not work when it comes to basic human needs such as housing and health care. Government has the obligation to make sure that citizens can afford housing. Regulating what can and cannot be charged for rent is the mark of a humane society. Allowing real estate speculators and big landlords to make a killing on this need is immoral.
Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Dot-commies must be guilty of something: It took a lot of guts to expose the sham that rent control has become. Between the Board of Supervisors and the Tenants Union, they have taken the good, simple idea of rent control to help the old and poor and, by adding restriction after restriction, have made it into the mess we have today. While the Tenants Union would like to lay the blame elsewhere (i.e., greedy landlords, dot-commies), it rests solidly on their shoulders. Rent control has been with us for 20 years, and renters as a whole are worse off because of it.
Shaun Supanich

You stay, but your husband should leaf: Sure, let's end rent control in San Francisco. Easy for Peter Byrne to say, as he sits comfortably in the rent-controlled apartment he's enjoyed for "nearly a decade."

I'm a teacher and my husband is an arborist. Together, we earn $55,000 a year. We have spent the past seven years putting down roots here and finding secure jobs doing what we love. We're in a tiny apartment paying $1,300 a month. Even a 7 percent increase in our rent would fall heavily on us financially.

I often wonder: Should I leave teaching (and the students I've helped) and become a dot-commer, make enough money to stay in S.F., and help no one? City officials need to find some way of addressing San Francisco's housing crisis while protecting its current residents from being driven out.
Lisa Mahon

Lodi. Tenderloin. Tough choice.: Tell me, Mr. Byrne, where are those of us who are barely making it now, spending over a third of our average incomes (not very low) on outrageous "market rate" rents several years old, supposed to go when we're priced out of the city and are waiting for your omnibenevolent market forces to make San Francisco miraculously affordable again? I don't want to move to $#%@ Lodi!
Bill Sharp


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