Dial back our rhetoric, discuss views in civil way
In a recently published letter to the editor, Richard Cairns characterized Gov. Gavin Newsom as a “tyrant.” I consider this to be an illustration of the increasingly brutal tenor of political discussion that, if not checked soon, will reward us with a society we won’t recognize as the democracy we think we have.
Cairns disagrees, vehemently, with the governor’s policies relating to the COVID-19 response and the regulation of firearms. Cairns’ views are opposed to Newsom’s, but that doesn’t make the governor a tyrant.
My late father, an “old school” Marin County Republican, kept a well-known saying as his credo: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend, to the death, your right to say it.” When I was a kid, civility in political discourse was assumed to be necessary, and it is. This standard has eroded over time. It needs to be restored — civil war isn’t as much fun as it sounds.
I have enjoyed reading the contributions of Cairns and others with views that are more conservative than the Marin County norm on the Opinion page. A diversity of views is what our country is supposed to be about. But if we don’t stop demonizing and raging against people we don’t agree with, there isn’t going to be a country worth conserving.
Instead, let’s dial back the rhetoric and discuss our views in a civil and rational way. With freedom comes responsibility.
— Ben Ballard, Sausalito
Businesses with heat on need to close their doors
I am a 15-year resident of Sausalito. I have noticed a blatant disregard toward the crisis of global warming in our county.
Our state claims a commitment to clean energy, zero-emission programs, “spare the air” days, electric bicycles and electric cars. California leaders claim to have a strong global response to the climate change threat. We have the world’s first plan to achieve net-zero carbon pollution.
Yet, some Marin County retailers in winter weather have doors wide open with heat on. This a true reveal of lack of consciousness and concern. Those Marin businesses need to stop heating the open air and close their doors.
— Mary Lee Bickford, Sausalito
Fairfax rent control will cause future issues
Fairfax’s new rental ordinance creating limits on rent increases and evictions has created controversy (“Fairfax council passes rent control, eviction ordinances,” Nov. 8).
The state has rules protecting rents. Fairfax’s regulations are much more restrictive. Rental property owners are right to feel targeted. It creates a new Byzantine set of regulations encouraging litigation. Many small property owners will need legal assistance to interpret rules and avoid penalties.
Housing is expensive, whether you are a buyer or a renter. The Town Council’s misguided attempt to help renters deal with that expense will only cause other problems. The council does not try to limit the cost of gasoline or groceries because that would cause gas stations and food markets in Fairfax to leave. The same will happen with rental housing, it will just take longer.
Given the new regulations, who would be interested in investing in a rental property in Fairfax?
I expect the availability of rental housing to decrease. Renters who find that their housing is too big, too small or very distant from their workplace will be reluctant to move because they will not want to give up their below-market rental. People who want to move to Fairfax will find very few, if any, suitable rentals.
The Fairfax Town Council, like small city and town governments across the state, takes care of the business of running the town. The council makes day-to-day decisions necessary to keep it functioning. Residents should appreciate the time and effort council members put in to make Fairfax a desirable place to live. The Town Council’s decision to enact new radical rental regulations is something different.
The new regulations will substantially change the character of housing in Fairfax. Regulations having such a profound impact on Fairfax’s future should be put to a vote by the residents.
— Bob Poindexter, Corte Madera
Homeless shelter should have been open nightly
I feel disgust reading the front-page article on homeless shelter limits (“Marin weather shelter limited despite persistent storms, Jan. 14).
It states that the shelter has been open only four nights during a three-week period, during which time there have been unprecedented storms. The reason stated is that the weather conditions have not met the county’s criteria for opening. Gary Naja-Riese, the director of Marin County’s homelessness division, is quoted in the story saying, “We recognize it is hard to see our unhoused neighbors out in adverse conditions.”
Where is our humanity? It may be hard for housed residents to see others suffer, but this decision seems not to recognize that it is hard to stay alive as an unhoused neighbor during the adverse conditions of the last month.
While homelessness may be a complex problem that will take time to solve, opening the shelter during unprecedented storms is not hard. Providing storage units for people’s belongings so they will actually use the shelter is not hard. In a county with this much wealth, there should be no reason the shelter can’t be open all winter.
— Nancy Gump, Fairfax
Change dynamic around helping homeless people
To imagine anyone living on the streets in Marin during the recent stretch of cold temperatures and severe rain is beyond comprehension. It was hard to read that Marin County’s homeless division was limiting the number of nights the homeless shelter was open (“Marin weather shelter limited despite persistent storms, Jan. 14).
Statistics show that, officially, Marin has 1,121 homeless people, 830 of which are unsheltered. Many say those types of statistics are traditionally well below actual data. One problem in getting accurate counts is that many homeless people do not want to be counted. Another is that it is simply too difficult to find everyone.
Marin offers some help to our homeless residents when the temperature becomes colder than 38 degrees. Temperatures that low mean offering overnight shelter in one of the 60 beds available at Marin’s Health and Wellness Center from 5 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. The story reported that the average number of people during the few nights it was open during the storm was only 12. That’s disappointing.
What is the purpose of the county’s homeless division if not to find and help the homeless during the most severe weather in decades? It should have been open every night. It should have been an “all hands on deck” approach to rescuing humans in crisis.
Marin should create a shelter where homeless people can reliably have a bed, as well as access to bathrooms, showers, food and an address. They need social and medical services. They need a real second chance.
At least allow homeless people to have a place where they can live in their tents — with bathrooms, showers and social services.
If we continue to avoid real solutions, history will repeat itself and the homeless community will continue to grow. It will remain on our streets and scattered throughout our communities. It will be a deepening wound on the very soul of Marin County.
— Sandra Macleod White, San Rafael
Members of Congress should not lie about past
Two months after the vote electing New York Republican Rep. George Santos to the House of Representatives, we still don’t know everything he lied about in regard to his biographical information and past.
He wouldn’t be able to get a library card without identifying documents. Why is there no system in place to guarantee that a member of Congress is who he says he is?
— Charles Kelly, Fairfax