Name: Dan McDunn, 45, homebuilder
What office/district are you are running for? Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner
What is the main reason you are running? The relentless pursuit of more oversight of the rental housing market, most recently ADUs and single family homes, by the current rent board has activated me. Homeowners need representation on the board in order to provide a counterpoint to the belief that all landlord/tenant relationships need oversight by a bunch of bureaucrats. Further, when there is balance between landlord and tenant interests, landlords will feel comfortable taking risks on tenants from marginalized communities. As it is now, with the difficulty associated with ending problem tenancies, landlords have a vested interest in renting to only the most favorable and upwardly mobile tenants. Balance on the board will be a win for both sides.
Why are you qualified? There are presently over 150 families living in dwelling units I have built or rebuilt over my 20 year career in construction and real estate. I understand what is involved in bringing a new unit to market, and the risks associated with selling that unit to a buyer or signing a lease with a tenant. Also, having operated apartment buildings for a number of years in Portland, Oregon (I no longer own any), I have a firm grasp on rental housing economics and real world experience in managing the landlord tenant relationship, from the great tenants to the hostile meth addicted ones that need court intervention to remove from the building. This real world experience from the property owner side is desperately needed to get to the best outcome for the rental housing market at large.
What sets you apart from other candidates? I have no political aspirations other than to get the rent board on sound and balanced footing in the next 4 years and to establish a working model where both landlord and tenant interests are represented to get to the best outcome for everyone. I bring a counterpoint to the presently one-sided rent board’s position of all tenant advocacy all the time. I am also intolerant of sloth and corruption, and if elected would seek to put an end to these vices that were well detailed by a nearly decade old grand jury report about the same. No one has ever pursued this and the result is an executive director that left under a cloud of suspicion. This is nuts! I would work to have the rent board undergo a serious third party audit to reveal waste and inefficiency. Anticipating that there would be substantial opportunities to cut the budget, I would then advocate for using the savings to actually house low income people in the form of vouchers or affordable housing development.
What brought you to Berkeley and when did you come? I am married to a 3rd generation Berkeleyan who grew up in her grandfather’s apartment complex at Channing and Telegraph. We met in San Francisco in ’97, lived in Philadelphia for her to attend nursing school, and then Portland as an interim stop to check that out along with every other 30 something in the mid 2000s. We moved back to Berkeley in 2010 and are raising our 3 boys here. If this rent board run doesn’t get us run out of town, we expect to remain here until the end.
What are the three biggest challenges for Berkeley in the next five years? Unfunded pensions. Presently horrible and rapidly deteriorating infrastructure. A citizenry that lets good intentions take precedent over results based practical policy. All the above will eventually lead us to bankruptcy. It would not really be my place as a rent board commissioner to solve these problems, but these are basically the same problems that plague the rental housing market.
What are your ideas to begin to solve them? Again, not really my role as a rent board commissioner, but the city of Berkeley has 50% more staff per 1,000 residents than the California municipal average. Let’s start by examining every department with a goal towards getting to the average statewide staffing levels. Another idea would be to freeze wages until there is parity between the public and private sector average earnings, which is presently highly favorable to public sector workers. I would redeploy those resources towards supercharging investment in repairing our civic infrastructure, which we could leverage to attract and retain businesses that would benefit from our geographic location. This would increase the tax base and help to cover existing unfunded pension liabilities. Everything we do now repels business and investment in Berkeley, and the results are obvious everywhere.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? I know that this is going to sound totally crazy, but let’s stop hosting every drug addicted petty thief on the West Coast at the three entrances to our city. Nuts, right!!??
How will you be accessible to constituents? I am out there. Just like with my business my published number rings to my cell phone, I will be available whenever someone wants to get a hold of me. Ask my clients, I always pick up the phone.
Why should voters choose you over the incumbent? I am a results-oriented data driven guy that gets things done. I do not tolerate waste, fraud and abuse, and demand forward progress out of every aspect of my life. I am not a theoretician but rather someone that has accomplished a great deal in the housing and real estate industries. I will push this board into superior performance with winning outcomes rather than dither on the margins in pursuit of my own self-interests.
How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? $5,000
Share a personal interest or passion people might be surprised to learn about. I am a passionate adventure sports enthusiast. I have been kite surfing for a few years and during the 2020 season I had over 60 glorious afternoons on the water off the shores of Berkeley, Oakland, Albany and Alameda. During the off season I surf as much as possible but the proximity to the ocean is more challenging. I also love mountain biking with my oldest son, the Berkeley High mountain bike team, and alone. I love to be outside, active, and taking on new challenges. These activities inspire confidence and an eagerness to get things done. I see this campaign as similar to strapping a 13 square meter kite to my waist and going a mile offshore in 20 knots. It is not going to be easy, but hopefully worthwhile.
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