After 30 years of following Berkeley elections and waiting for successful rent policies to be implemented, Pawel Moldenhawer is running for Berkeley’s rent board and taking his sister-in-law’s advice: “Stop complaining and do something.”
Although Moldenhawer submitted his application to run for a position on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board just before the Aug. 7 deadline, he said he has been thinking about running for two or three election cycles while working as a contractor.
According to Moldenhawer, his platform revolves around “rational decision-making based on basic humane principles that we should take care of our people in our community.”
“My goal is to provide a reasonable evaluation of what works and what doesn’t,” Moldenhawer said. “In other words, if the policy, no matter how well-intended, is failing — and the policies right now are failing, we do have a shortage of housing, we have a significant homeless crisis, and it is not getting better — the logical conclusion is that whatever we are doing is not working.”
He added that in order to eliminate failing policy and the problems it exacerbates, the rent board must rely on expert opinions and research.
Although he has to refine his position on all issues, Moldenhawer said he thinks the country’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, which allows low-income families to adjust their share of rent to 30-40% of their monthly adjusted gross income so they can afford housing, is an “excellent example of good policy.”
“We do have Section 8, which has been proven over and over to work great,” Moldenhawer said. “It does cost taxpayers money; therefore, if taxpayers want to help people in their community, that’s the best way to do it known so far to me.”
Moldenhawer added that he thinks rent control policy, which is meant to limit the ability of landlords and tenants to negotiate rent, results in a shortage of housing. He called this outcome “kindergarten economics,” and said he is against such policy.
As someone not previously involved in politics, Moldenhawer believes he can bring problem-solving skills and common sense to the rent board, as he is much more focused on policy than politics and said he can serve as a “a voice of reason.”
Additionally, he has been both a tenant and a landlord during his time in Berkeley and believes he can provide both perspectives in decision-making processes.
“I’ve seen every stage of the rental market from the beginning until the end, from renting a small apartment to being a small landlord myself,” Moldenhawer said. “I believe that whatever I’ll advocate will benefit everybody.”