Give rent control a try in St. Paul – Twin Cities

If you are St. Paul landlord, you have most likely been bombarded with emails urging you to vote “No” on the issue of rent control. Have you thought about why real estate agents are pouring so much money into this campaign? Could it be that they fear the government is limiting their “right” to jack rentals as much as they want, as often as they want?

Many voices have been raised to predict the catastrophic effects of this regulation, and many others, just as loudly, highlight its potential benefits. Most of us are far from experts in predicting the future effects of a rent control measure, but we can reflect on at least three reasonings that have proved convincing to me:

As a group, tenants are more vulnerable than landlords. Many tenants are less than one payslip away from deferral. Housing insecurity breeds enormous stress on its victims, especially children who are forced to change schools and face the possibility of falling behind in relation to their peers.

This regulation will not be perfect. It’s a beginning. The city council can repeal or change it after 12 months. Everyone wants to know more about its effects in a year from now.

It took enormous energy to ask this question to the voters. With the midterm elections next year, we are unlikely to see another attempt to legislate justice for leases for some time. Now is a moment where we can show that we are interested in helping members of our community stay in their rental housing.

If companies’ real estate industry is so afraid of this regulation that they spend huge sums on trying to defeat it, it suggests that it is worth adopting.

I urge fellow citizens to give this a try by voting “Yes.”

Dutton Foster, St. Paul

Right problem, wrong solution

To see why rent control will not create more affordable housing, we need to look at the underlying cause of the problem: zoning.

The first zone code in Los Angeles in 1908 separated heavy industry from everything else, but it had none of the exclusionary policies that cities have since introduced in their zone codes that make housing more expensive. These policies range from regulating unit sizes, land coverage and land use to banning housing alternatives such as room houses, single room hotels and living above or behind shops.

The faith community has partially filled the gap with homeless shelters, but the city of St. Paul now wants to limit himself to that with a proposal to ban any new construction or addition to religious property that could include an additional use as a shelter.

At the same time, St. Paul asked his citizens to vote for rent control, which addresses the symptoms of a problem the city itself created.

Instead of more government control over housing, we need less of it by returning to zoning to its 1908 roots. Japan’s zoning has taken that approach with much more inclusive policies than our own, and its cities have much less homelessness and much more affordable housing as a result. We should do the same.

Thomas Fisher, St. Paul

Sale of nest space?

Ramsey County could soon sell for the development of a 77-acre area adjacent to Battle Creek Regional Park in Maplewood, which is a nesting site for rare and declining grassland bird species.

The county receives comments on the park’s overall plan through Oct. 31. Find more information at SaintPaulAudubon.org.

Julian Sellers, St. Paul

Two important initiatives for Stillwater schools

On November 2, the residents of the Stillwater area will vote on two measures that are crucial to the future education of the children of the community. One will prevent the bottom from falling off and the other will speed up learning for students and put the district on par with other metro school districts.

Question 1 should not be the least bit controversial. It asks voters to renew a long-term tax of more than 20 years that provides about 10 percent of the daily expenses of educating students: salaries, heating, teaching materials, electricity, insurance, etc. It requires a little extra tax. , only 17 cents a month for the average taxpayer. That it is opposed by some in society is more due to the rising cry of voices who want to defuse public education rather than the benefits of the issue. None of those opposed to it have explained how the district can “do better” with $ 12 million less in funding. Nor are any of them having a plan for how to cut such a monumental slice of the budget without affecting the learning of the students.

For context, consider this: The district could eliminate every single person working in the administration – plus all the principals – and still not be halfway to closing a $ 12 million funding gap.

Question 2 is where the magic happens. This is a new tax that will provide funding for technology that will strengthen district infrastructure and enable students to participate in a revolution that transforms education.

Stillwater is one of the few districts in the metro area without a dedicated source of technology funding. Unfortunately, it turns out because the district’s technological infrastructure is sad. Technology systems do not work together seamlessly, which any parent can tell you. The “help desk” for staff and parents is one person. The technology upgrade / replacement schedule is currently 8 to 10 years for portable teachers and classroom technology such as electronic whiteboards. This schedule is likely to become longer as the district handles the growing need to strengthen cybersecurity to protect district and student data.

The lack of a decent baseline of technology was evident last year when the pandemic forced students into distance learning. The district did not have enough units to allow students to learn from home. Embarrassingly, the district had to procure discarded units from another district just to be able to provide each student with a teaching aid.

What the district learned last year is what the districts around us already knew: that learning “anytime / anywhere” is a blessing for education. Stillwater is stuck in an old-fashioned learning model where many students are limited to learning right within the walls of the schoolhouse within 6.5 hours of the school day. Some parents may purchase devices for students to give them access to learning anytime, anywhere, but other students do not have that luxury.

If Question 2 passes – an additional $ 11.50 tax per month for the average taxpayer – each student will receive a low-cost Chromebook that becomes their personal learning device. On it, they can access learning at any time. They can more easily collaborate with peers. They can access lessons online in the evenings, as well as additional learning resources created by their teachers. Sickness and holidays no longer mean that students fall behind in their learning.

In my opinion, this learning anytime / anywhere represents a significant revolution in education. Stillwater students deserve to take part in it.

Beverly Petrie, Chairman of the Board, Stillwater Area Public Schools

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