The odd evictions at Parkmerced - Page 2

Suddenly, low-income tenants could lose homes over water, garbage fees

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Live large at Parkmerced -- unless you're poor
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MIRISSA NEFF

Some of the 196 tenants who received warning notices claimed they didn't know they were responsible for the fees. John Martinek tried to help his friend, a 55-year-old Parkmerced resident and veteran, after he was hit with a bill totaling more than $600.

"He might've owed it, but here's the thing: They never told him anything about paying water and garbage," Martinek said. "They never once asked him, they never once said a word. They were trying to scare him, there's no question about it. They were trying shake him out of there." He said his friend had been spared from eviction thanks to legal assistance.

Johnston, meanwhile, dismissed the idea that tenants were in the dark on how much they owed. "It's patently ridiculous to suggest that residents who have signed a lease weren't aware that they had to pay their bills," he said.

In most cases, garbage charges in San Francisco are either included in the rent or are completely separate from rent, collected by a private company and can't be grounds for eviction. Water bills are typically included in monthly rent or collected by the city — and thus aren't grounds for eviction either.

 

WHERE IS DAVID CHIU?

Of the 14 eviction proceedings that are going forward, McMillan said, 10 involve tenants who receive Section 8 housing assistance, a federal program administered by the San Francisco Housing Authority. Of those 10, eight concerned disputed fees, he said.

There are a total of 170 Section 8 tenants at Parkmerced, according to figures cited by Megan Baker of Catholic Charities CYO, and 82 of them were among the 196 tenants who received three-day notices.

While Parkmerced previously attracted renters enrolled in the Section 8 program, Stellar stopped accepting those housing applications about a year ago, Baker said. Her organization provides emergency financial assistance for families at risk of homelessness and has been working with Parkmerced tenants since October 2009.

Baker added that she'd met with some tenants who were charged attorney's fees on top of the back-payments. "They don't have the means to pay legal costs," she said. "These very large charges are not going hand-in-hand with their monthly statements. It's all of a sudden. It leads us to think that in the process of changing management and gearing up for redevelopment, they really don't want low-income tenants."

In the wake of recent coverage about the trend of eviction notices in the Guardian and other publications (See "Low Income Tenants Face Possible Eviction at Parkmerced," Politics Blog, Oct. 7, 2011), the three-day notices have slowed, reports Wolf, of the Rent Board. "There were no notices this month," she said, referring to October, which could be a sign that management had taken a different tack under pressure from housing advocates and media scrutiny.

Shortt, of the Housing Rights Committee, noted that she had sought assistance from Board President David Chiu after her organization began working with impacted tenants. Chiu cast the swing vote on Parkmerced, sparking the ire of tenant advocates, but professed to be looking out for tenant interests.

Chiu introduced 14 pages of amendments to the Parkmerced development agreement intended to strengthen tenant protections, and used those changes to justify his support for the project. However, the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force determined Nov. 1 that members of the Land Use and Economic Development Committee violated the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance when it considered Chiu's amendments, because the public wasn't provided with full documentation of the proposed changes.

Comments

Another good job of reporting by Ms. Bowe. City officials were warned many times by residents that the track record of Stellar Management and Fortress Investment Group hedge fund, who now own Parkmerced and are pushing the demolition plan, shows that their intent on buying up the largest collection of rent-controlled housing west of the Mississippi River is to profit by getting rid of rent control and affordable housing. This is only the beginning. Stop this nonsensical destruction of homes for profit before it is too late!

Posted by Guest Michael Russom on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

what are those landlords supposed to do? I'd stop paying my bills tomorrow if there weren't serious consequences to defaulting.

Not everything is a vast right-wing conspiracy, you know?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

San Francisco residents are among the most entitlement oriented people I have ever seen. It is as if the world owes everything to them. They do not play fair and if asked to merely honor their agreements, they act put off and want to cry to some governing agency that the Big Bad Wolf is making them do what they said they would do and how horrible it is that they now have to honor their agreements. It sickens me! I am so glad that I no longer live in this pathetic environment. It is a beautiful city with so much to offer, but I had to leave because the entitlement oriented population was out of control and nobody seems to care. The city of San Francisco has been needing to bring in more housing and help reduce costs for those needing to rent. Rent Control has been proven to be a poor means to do that as it does not incentivise anyone to keep up the property. Costs to operate businesses and proeprties are soaring, yet property owners and business owners are expected to subsidize everyone. That is why more people are not at work today because business cannot afford to hire them. Many have gone out of business because of this type of poor city management. Add the unbelivably inflated union wages and old world pressure to keep hiring union employees adds more fuel to the losses. When are you all going to wake up, stop cying and help the economy rather going on wild goose chases and driving out business! Get Real, San Francisco! Get Real!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

to not pay your bills, rent or mortgage without any downside.

Since when?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

As mentioned above in the article, water and sewer are supposed to be included in the amount that Stellar Management charges each month. If whoever is administering the Section 8 program for these tenants does not see those charges in the billed amount, how were they supposed to pay them? I pay a online based on the amount due. If Stellar left the water and sewer charges off the bill and expects tenants to come up with the money in one lump sum now, how does that make the tenants crybabies?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

the issue is whether infill, and preservation based alternatives are preferential "profit" wise to a developer who sees this site as a landgrab. The partitioning off of cambon, brotherhood way, and SFSU's UPS shows how they approach the profit motive. Predatory Equity is what Stellar is known for on the east coast, the west coast is no different. The concern is that they want to flip and have high-turnover rates, the towers 10-11-12th floors were termed "pent-house" suites, to increase rents. Profit for Met-Life was 3% when they built parkmerced for stellar/fortress its 17%+ with all the 800k housing units being built is it not time to consider building for the essential need and not just the greed? The section 8 tenants have no other place to go, and those that state bill collection is the important issue forget that some of those same residents fought for integration of parkmerced's units, fought for the USA in wars, are your teachers your working class, your students, and seniors. They do not get 10,000k bonuses each year, they are on fixed incomes which is why parkmerced was built as ESSENTIAL RENTAL HOUSING STOCK, which has not been built by ANY mayor in the past Brown/Newsom/Lee era's. The need is to start building essential infrastructure and rental housing for the flexibility required in the housing market, for the OPTION of renting or buying, and allowing workers to save for home-ownership. To act as if only the 1% matter or that real estate speculation is the only market is acting like there is no humanity in housing. I would think as an architect or planner there are those out there that comprehend that the current plans do not promote sustainability or essential infill and address of the existing towers, inadequate light-rail connectivity to daly city bart, or impact on a national eligible landscape site which is PARKMECED. (www.tclf.org marvels of modernism landscapes @ risk 2008) Its about a plan that allows for profitibaility, but creates a better sense of how to achieve it through infill and sustainable rennovation of the existing units. Such a plan was submitted but ignored. The developer can change a plan, to demolish housing that is functional for the working class in SF is equivalent to escalating the conflict of the have's and have nots... think prior to criticizing bill collections, if your house/home was at risk, and you were bumped to the street there would be plenty of critique over how many porsche's you have in your 4 car-garage when most people ride muni...

Posted by goodmaab50 on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.....shut up and pay your damn bills. Life is tough...suck it up!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 12:03 am

I was 'googling' AUM and found your problem.

I won't go into a great deal of detail here, but just steer you to a site I set up about this group of bandits who are running American Utility Management.

Those people who found themselves with unexpected and large bills are not all a bunch of cheats who are gaming the system. We had this AUM as our utility billing firm for several years before we tossed them out for phanton billings.

I found in my own bills 7 months where I had been billed extra for water usage, those months I was NOT even at my condo. So don't be so quick to jump on those with past due bills, AUM is working a scam with bogus billings.

Take a look at: http://aumsucks.blogspot.com/

Posted by Guest Bill Harris on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 9:41 pm