Letters to the Editor

California’s housing crisis + Free speech + Abortion rights

In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, a builder works on an apartment complex in Sacramento, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders promised to tackle California's housing crisis in the final weeks of the legislative session by pushing a package that includes money for low-income housing and regulatory reforms.
In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, a builder works on an apartment complex in Sacramento, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders promised to tackle California's housing crisis in the final weeks of the legislative session by pushing a package that includes money for low-income housing and regulatory reforms. AP

Housing crisis

Re “California’s housing crisis was decades in the making. It needs more than quick fixes” (Editorials, Aug. 20): The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board hit the proverbial nail on the head. California’s long-simmering housing crisis has reached its boiling point and it’s going to take much more than just a short-term fix to alleviate the matter. While a number of legislative proposals are in the mix at the Capitol, that’s simply not enough. Years of stringent building requirements, excessive development fees, rising labor and material costs, and widespread NIMBY-ism have resulted in fewer homes built and higher prices for those homes. That damage won’t be reversed overnight. It’s high time we all changed the lens through which we view our housing problem, and the math to help us do that is simple: build more homes to keep prices affordable.

Michael Strech, Roseville


I’m left scratching my head over why Californians, especially San Franciscans, are breaking their arms patting themselves on the back over their progressive and liberal policies and attitudes. Where do we expect people to live if every community says “no building in my backyard?” Rent is so high that it’s almost completely unaffordable. In the Bay area, where the crisis is most profound, why are they so proud to be progressive when no one but the 1 percent can afford to live there? That hardly seems progressive. People need a place to live. Someone who truly is progressive would want shelter for all. Perhaps we’re not as liberal as we want to believe in California.

Bridget Whitted, Folsom

Prevailing wages

Combined with the high cost of land, politicians have increased permitting costs to as much as 30 percent of the cost to build a house. Also, workers’ compensation and liability insurance have skyrocketed due to litigation. Now, legislators want to pass Assembly Bill 199 which requires general contractors to pay prevailing wages, which is the same as union wages. Prevailing and union wages are 30 percent-plus higher than the average construction wages. It appears that politicians are causing the housing crisis.

John Hightower, Orangevale

Leaders needed

The housing crisis for Sacramento’s poor is not solely caused by the slow building pace. Politicians cave to developers and NIMBYism. Requirements were stricken that even a small percent of units in developments must be for affordable housing. Meanwhile the fragile little Sacramento Upper Land Park neighborhood has shouldered almost half of all public housing in Sacramento for over 50 years, resulting in concentrated poverty. Fair share and righting past wrongs are discarded as homeless issues increase. Political leadership is desperately needed.

Craig Chaffee, Sacramento

Free speech

Re “ ‘Free speech,’ the most overused, misused phrase in American politics” (Erika D. Smith, Aug. 20): Ever felt moved to shout it from the rooftops? But heaven forbid someone else should shout, or broadcast any noise that we don’t want. This war is not just about our free speech rights, but also our rights to control noise. Ever notice that your individual responses to noise reflect your beliefs or emotions? I hate when someone in traffic feels motivated to crank their car stereo up enough to invade everyone else’s space. So, we all grow and learn from hearing varying beliefs, but where do our rights to avoid and control the noise begin and end? Invading someone’s right to express, or just to be, is wrong. I don’t have the right to blast my anti-xenophobic thoughts, my rock music, or my NPR if it invades others’ space. Get it? Keep fighting for all free speech and for personal boundaries. These are healthy for everyone.

Mitch Darnell, Sacramento

Words matter

Labeling something politically correct is a way to trivialize the concerns and feelings of people with whom you disagree or don’t care about. It is an excuse for people who, in the name of free speech, want to say whatever they like without considering how their words may affect others. But words matter. Social scientists have pointed out that when we change the way we talk about things, we begin to change attitudes. It isn’t a bad thing when social pressure discourages hateful speech. Freedom of speech is not absolute. Threatening violence, inciting panic, slander and libel are examples of limits on freedom of expression. Words have consequences. We would all be better off if we put a little more thought into what we choose to say.

Sandra K. Olson, Sacramento


Re “How Trump and the Republican Party will go down in history” (California Forum, Aug. 13): We Americans must hold ourselves, our executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and the media, real and fake, accountable for the mess we are in today. Most people recognize that the phrase “words matter” refers to our president’s toxic and simplistic tweeting. In every walk of life, words matter, but that is magnified by people in power. Even more importantly, character matters. I have concluded that our president is devoid of character. I reluctantly accepted Trump’s presidency with guarded hope, only to be solidly trampled upon. By nature, I’m an optimist, but now feel a pervasive pessimism infiltrating my being. Yet I feel we Americans with character who truly embrace the colors of our democracy will prevail. Our country’s future is at stake.

Sheila LaPolla, Citrus Heights

Abortion rights

Re “If Democrats turn back on abortion rights, they’ll get punished at polls” (Viewpoints, Aug. 15): A fundamental freedom is self-determination, and Americans clearly support a woman’s right to decide whether and when to have children. Such basic rights as sovereignty of one’s health and economic security of family rise from values we can share across our prickly pluralism. It’s infuriating to hear that political leaders may dispense with these rights for what they hope will bring votes. Congress defies reason, devastating Planned Parenthood which provides safe abortion, birth control and care. Elected officials must oppose attacks on reproductive rights. Nearly 1 of 3 women in the United States will have an abortion in their lifetimes. We remind political strategists that millions of women will reclaim our time so we are never again forced to back alleys.

Charlene Jones, Sacramento


Find them at:



Online form (preferred):


Other: Letters, P.O. Box 15779,

Sacramento, CA 95852

150-word limit. Include name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, brevity and content.