The article "Oakland, State Officials Sift Rubble for Answers," Oct. 24, raises interesting issues surrounding the Oakland fire. Unwise building projects and permits granted in high-risk situations practically guarantee disaster.Another issue raised by the fire is rent gouging in Oakland as fire victims hunt for living quarters. Most of the homeless on our streets all across the country were put there by outrageous rental figures. Are unreasonable profits worth the damage to our society? San Francisco and Silicon Valley have lost valuable businesses that moved away because their employees cannot afford to live in the area. Those of us who have labored persistently to support rent control do not object to a fair return for landlords. It is the skyrocketing rents and substandard maintenance we deplore. But in parts of California these practices persist. For example, in East Palo Alto a vicious campaign against rent stabilization continues. Respect for law is minimal. Facts are distorted. Are we a compassionate society or not? Legitimate concerns for the Oakland fire victims should be expanded to include all the nation's homeless. M. L. Wallace, Menlo Park, Calif.
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