Rent control is bound to fail

Regarding the letter to the editor from Marri Renne (“Rent control is still a bad idea,” MyVillager Inbox, August 3): With rent control, there will be increased property taxes for all homeowners. The value of income properties will stagnate, and the tax base will as well. Tax increases will fall on the owners of other types of property.

There will be gaming of the rent-control system. As someone who lived in the Boston area for 25 years before rent control was repealed there, I can tell you there will be ways to game the system. Rents might not rise, but broker fees can and will. Whether published and legally approved or under the table, expect there to be “incentives” paid by renters for preferred or available units.

This whole episode is heartbreaking to me as a new resident of Saint Paul. Our political leadership failed to lead and explain the medium- to long-term effects of this well-intentioned but wholly misguided effort. We need more rental housing to moderate rent increases, and the rent control ordinance has and will continue to disincentivize development.

One of the reasons the Massachusetts cities of Boston, Brookline and Cambridge abolished rent control was the decline of their rental stock. The impact may take a decade to play out here in Saint Paul, but it will be cited as a major factor in the future decline of the city. High inflation will accelerate the impact here just as it did in Massachusetts in the 1980s.

John J. Moroney
Ramsey Hill

Let’s protect the river corridor

A new development is being planned in Highland Park. Paster Properties has acquired the 18-unit apartment building at 706 S. Mississippi River Blvd. and the First Church of Christ-Scientist building next door. Paster is proposing to build a four-story, 91-unit apartment building there.

Paster Properties’ current plan requires no variances. However, a major concern for the proposed building is the height at 50 feet. This property is a part of the Mississippi River corridor and recognized as an important regional resource. A city process to refine riverside zoning (Critical Area Zoning) is actively underway and should be adopted by year’s end. At that time, the maximum allowable height for this property will change to 35 feet. Well before the first tenant moves in, the building would be out of compliance with the new code. We look forward to working with the developer and the city to have the building comply with the new code.

 

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The Critical Area Zoning process was requested by the Minnesota Legislature and is supported by the state Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service and others. It is the right thing to do. This same Critical Area Zoning has been implemented by Minneapolis and other communities along the Mississippi River. The new zoning was incorporated into the master plan for the Highland Bridge development. Let’s all work together to continue to protect the Mississippi River corridor.

Kurt and Barb Klussendorf
Wendy and Michael Neuer
Tom Romens
Highland Park

Slow down bike trail planning

At a meeting on July 8, members of the Saint Paul Planning Commission expressed their jubilant anticipation of a new and safer Summit Avenue bike trail in the absence of proof that the proposed trail would indeed be safer.

Citizens have raised numerous concerns about the proposed trail. Chief among them is how a 12-foot raised bike trail with an additional 4-foot buffer would not damage the lush treescape that defines Summit Avenue.

Alice Messner, senior landscape architect for the Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation, has assured citizens that protecting trees is a high priority for the city. How can Saint Paulites believe this?

The city has no comprehensive ordinance requiring the protection of trees during construction. Without strict tree preservation protocols during construction, damage to trees will occur. If the city’s design of the regional bike trail does not result in the immediate sacrifice of a tree, significant construction activity next to the tree could harm its root system–damage that may not show up for eight or 10 years.

I urge the city to slow down, allow genuine public input and approach this issue with transparency and the data-based care it deserves.

Marilyn L. Bach
Summit Hill

Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the citizens group Save Our Street.

Best option for Summit cyclists

Save Our Street (SOS) makes a case for why a two-way bicycle path would be more dangerous than the existing one-way bike lanes on Summit Avenue (Viewpoint, MyVillager, August 3). I agree with SOS’s analysis and therefore support two one-way bicycle paths as the best option for Summit.

One-way, off-street bike paths offer the safest route for cyclists and therefore encourage more people to ride for exercise, transportation and enjoyment, including families with children. An off-street path on each side of Summit would narrow the street curb-to-curb, slowing traffic and reducing the crossing distance for pedestrians.

The bike paths can be built within the existing road width with no loss of trees or green space and with little or no additional cost when done in conjunction with the city’s planned reconstruction of Summit. And since the reconstruction will likely be implemented section by section over many years, the one-way bike paths can be more easily integrated with the existing on-street bike lanes.

Automobiles have been the priority in transportation infrastructure for the last half century and more. Consideration of bicyclists and pedestrians were typically an afterthought. If we want a more livable city, it is time we move to safer, healthier and more sustainable transportation options.

Terry Brueck
Merriam Park

No antidote for inflation

The Inflation Reduction Act passed by Democrats in Congress provides $740 billion of new spending and $300 billion of new taxes. Anyone who has taken Economics 101 knows that this is no antidote to the inflation that is crushing the middle class.

T.J. Sexton
Highland Park

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