A Berkeley resident with a passion for residential construction, Dan McDunn is running for the city’s Rent Stabilization Board with hopes of bringing homeowners’ interests to the table.
If elected, McDunn is determined to provide a counterpoint, specifically for homeowners and small property owners, to the board’s current “tenant advocacy group.”
“My goal is to inject in what is now a tenant advocacy group of nine people more or less only representing tenants,” McDunn said. “In my belief, the democracy needs a counterpoint to get to the best possible outcome for all participants.”
As an entrepreneurial builder and owner who lists experience ranging from single-family homes to condominiums, McDunn has built more than 20 accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, over the last two years in response to California’s housing shortage.
Most of his clients are seeking to build residential units either for family members or for rent. These property owners do not want to risk losing control over their units, according to McDunn.
“None of my clients think the rent board has any purview or should have any purview over the tenant relationship in the backyard,” McDunn said. “Some of them would not build should (the board) take control over that relationship.”
According to McDunn, the current trajectory of the board is “counterproductive” to its stated goals, such as lowering rent.
McDunn added that while homeowners and property owners in Berkeley running for the board have to disclose their real estate interests, a renter running for a position is not required to disclose any potentially beneficial arrangements such as rent-controlled apartments.
Another issue of concern for McDunn is his view that students are “victims” of rent control. Due to a constrained supply of apartments with low turnover rates, available units are bid up tremendously, and students are the ones who pay the price, McDunn said.
“To some extent, as a college community, the people who live here should be willing to cater to some of the demand for housing the school brings to the community,” McDunn said. “Not an elimination over rent control, but some constraint over the rent board would help students in the long run, in addition to having a more open community to expanding the realm of housing supply.”
If the board creates incentives for people to remain in units longer than they otherwise would, it hurts new entrance into the market, McDunn said, noting that this perspective is underrepresented in the board’s makeup.
Inspired ADUs co-founder and principal architect Carrie Shores Diller, who has worked with McDunn for the last several years, said his campaign has her “100% support.”
“He and I share a common passion for those units and think they’re very important in terms of providing additional housing units,” Shores Diller said. “The real passion and dedication I’ve seen him putting into these ADUs is why he’d be a really valuable member of the rent board.”