Tenant Torment - Page 3

Renters left hanging as city convenes for holidays and Newsom heads for Hawaii


Another major tenant protection bill — Sup. Eric Mar's legislation to protect families from owner move-in evictions — is headed to the full Board of Supervisors in January. The legislation follows what Mar calls "a couple of minor tweaks" during a Dec. 14 Land Use Committee hearing that took place after months of vetting his bill with the public and family, tenant, and landlord advocacy groups.

The bill seeks to protect families with children from eviction through the OMI process, but would preserve the right of a landlord's family to evict a tenant's family, Mar explained.

"During these challenging economic times, our city needs to do whatever it can to ensure that our families are able to live and work here," Mar said. "This legislation will help our city protect one of our most vulnerable populations: families with children."

During the hearing, Mar observed that San Francisco is the third most expensive county in the nation for renters and that rent-controlled housing, which encompasses about 70 percent of the city's rental housing stock, contributes to maintaining a balanced city.

"When a rent-controlled unit is vacated voluntarily or through eviction, the landlord can bring the rental property up to current market rate, making these units unaffordable for our working class and low-income families," Mar said.

Ted Gullicksen, executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, said children need to be protected from no-fault evictions.

"San Francisco protects seniors and other vulnerable tenants from no-fault evictions like the so-called owner move-in eviction," Gullicksen observed. "We see many families with children being evicted in San Francisco, too often resulting in the family being forced to leave the city where their children were born."

Advocates say the problem is serious. "We see families flee San Francisco every year due to evictions such as owner move-ins," said Chelsea Boilard, family policy and communications associate at Coleman Advocates for Children.

Representatives for the San Francisco Apartment Association and other landlord groups spoke out against Mar's proposal, arguing that anyone with children would have a permanent protection and raising similar objections to ones raised in hearings on Sup. John Avalos' just-cause legislation.

By the meeting's end, Mar had amended his legislation to address concerns around the definition of "custodial parent," including the worry that a 19-year-old could sublease a room to a 16-year-old pretending to be the "custodial parent."

But Sup. Sophie Maxwell came out against Mar's amended proposal, which is headed to the full board in January at the recommendation of Mar and Board President David Chiu. All three supervisors sit on the Land Use committee.

"I'm not comfortable with a yes on this legislation," Maxwell said. "I think we need a comprehensive look at our rental laws and what we need to do. Otherwise, we'll end up with a hodgepodge." (Sarah Phelan)