Issue May Be Rent Controls

In an article in Montgomery Extra ["Renters Fearing a Change for the Worse," Nov. 17], you pointed out the hurdles facing renters when their buildings are threatened by condominium conversion. Your article mostly concerned Takoma Park, where reportedly there has been a surge of interest in condo conversion.

Takoma Park is alone among Washington suburban jurisdictions in having rent control laws, and these laws are among the most restrictive in the country.

Whatever one's views on rent controls, it is only logical to ponder whether laws that limit the revenue of a landlord might contribute to his or her interest in leaving the landlord business entirely through condo conversion. Yet your article made only one passing reference to the rent controls in Takoma Park, and this was in the context of creating "a haven for renters."

To properly consider the issue of condo conversion in Takoma Park, analysis of the effect of rent controls on all parties is paramount.

Pete Feiden

Takoma Park

Room for Private Schools

I'd like to respond to a recent letter["A Preserve's Price," Page A16, Nov. 16] in which an official from a private school in Bethesda complained that the existence of the Montgomery County agricultural reserve has stymied the efforts of private schools to expand in the county. He also alleged that the public schools have gained enrollment at the expense of private schools because private schools can't expand and meet the need due to the agricultural reserve.

The agricultural reserve was never meant to be a land holding zone ready to be exploited by developers and builders when the economic stars were most favorable. It was created to promote and protect agriculture in a county that is fast being overrun by suburban sprawl. If it hadn't been for the agricultural reserve, you would not see the quality of life in Montgomery County that makes it a magnet for new residents and businesses.

If private schools in Montgomery County think they can't increase their enrollments because of the agricultural reserve, I suggest they take a closer look at themselves and stop the self-deception. Perhaps their enrollments would increase if they improved their business operations and reduced tuition so that they would be more affordable to a wider range of students.

Stephen G. Gunnulfsen