Once again the Realtors on Guam and the Navy are at odds.
Congresswoman Bordallo has spoken to Rear Adm. Johnson about the unhappy relations — evidence of the serious state of affairs.
David Mathews housing officer for Naval Forces Marianas is doing his job when he ensures rogue Realtors are not overcharging Navy tenants or abusing the system to obtain undue amounts in rental allowances.
It is commendable that Mathews and his staff spend time explaining to them what preferences Navy personnel usually have when looking for accommodations on Guam.
It is a facet of the housing officer’s job to inspect properties and make sure they are safe and meet appropriate standards of living.
However it is not his job to set rents or tell Guam’s appraisers how to carry out their jobs. In doing so Mathews is taking that responsibility beyond reasonable boundaries. Price control — government regulation of the prices of goods and services intended to reduce the cost of living — however good the intent — is a dangerous course to chart.
Telling appraisers which properties they should include in their sample to formulate rental values is certainly outside the Navy’s bailiwick.
And blackballing individual properties and their owners does nobody any good.
Mathews is maneuvering the Navy into uncharted waters and attempting to restrict market forces.
With about 1 700 military tenants — what Mathews and his staff are doing smacks of heavy-handed paternalism.
When all other aspects of the relationship between military personnel on Guam and the island community appear to be congenial and mutually satisfactory it is a step backward to allow housing issues to muddy the waters.
Interestingly the Air Force says its housing office has no issues with Realtors on Guam and it appears to be smooth sailing between Realtors and potential Air Force tenants.
Navy tenants must be allowed discretion to deal with the rental that is set by the Realtor or landlord. Negotiation — part of the free market process — is a tool that tenants should be allowed to employ rather than have the Navy attempt to price cut for them.