Yes on U1, no on DD: Higher taxes for big landlords

Shirley Sun/Staff

In the hard-fought battle between Measures U1 and DD, Berkeley voters need to remember the adage of the pro-U1 campaign: DD stands for Don’t Do it.

Placing U1 on the ballot required a tough fight in Berkeley City Council, where members with oft-conflicting opinions on affordable housing had to come together with the community to craft a policy that most people could agree upon.

DD, on the other hand, is the concoction of monied landlords who want to save themselves from higher taxes.  

The existing tax for landlords with five or more units sits at a meek 1.081 percent. DD would increase it to 1.5 percent and raise roughly $1.4 million annually in tax revenue. U1 would increase the tax to 2.88 percent and raise roughly $3 million in tax revenue every year.

The big difference is that U1 exempts smaller landlords and new construction, while DD spreads the burden to everybody.

But the housing burden ought to fall squarely on the landlords who most aggressively exacerbate the housing-affordability crisis for their own benefit. Mom and pop landlords deserve important protections in this city, especially because they, too, must compete with the large rental-property owners who routinely price Berkeley residents out of the city.

The tax increase is slated to raise $3.5 million per year, which roughly amounts to $30 per unit per month, according to city officials. And the U1 tax increase also forbids landlords from passing on the tax to their tenants.

With the money to be set aside for low-income housing and homelessness prevention, the modest $30 tax seems the least that big landlords can do to help alleviate a housing crisis largely brought on by their greed.

When it comes to DD, remember: Don’t do it. Vote U1 instead.

Endorsements represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.