Supervisors approve condo legislation with veto-proof majority

Tenant supporters lined the hall wearing stickers that said, "Stop Evictions. Save Rent Control Housing. Support the Compromise.
Steven T. Jones

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today voted to approve compromise legislation that will allow more than 2,000 tenancy-in-common homeowners to convert to condominiums in exchange for a 10-year moratorium on the city’s current condo conversion lottery that now allows 200 conversions annually.

Approved by a veto-proof 8-3 majority after some last amendments were shot down by the six supervisors who most steadfastly supported the version that Board President David Chiu took the lead on crafting, this was a big victory for tenant groups who strongly opposed the original legislation, which did not include the moratorium and other restrictions.

“It’s great. We’re going to see a significant drop in condo conversions in the future. All of us tenants are very happy,” San Francisco Tenants Union head Ted Gullicksen told us after the hearing, which was packed with tenant supporters.

Sup. Mark Farrell, who sponsored the original legislation, decried how divisive the issue had become, criticized the approved version as deviating from his original intent of helping TIC owners in exchange for a fee that would help fund new affordable housing, and said, “This doesn’t need to be a zero sum game.”

But Chiu and the five supervisors who supported his version – Jane Kim, Norman Yee, David Campos John Avalos, and Eric Mar – noted the finite number of rent-controlled apartments in the city and the need to protect them from being converted into condos.

“How do we balance the needs of tenants who fear being evicted with TIC owners looking for relief?” Chiu said of the balance he aimed to strike, which he continued to tweak with new amendments today, including allowing TICs with all owner-occupied units to move forward if the legislation is challenged in court, an event that would otherwise freeze all condo conversions until the lawsuit is resolved.

Sup. London Breed wanted even greater flexibility in that so-called “poison pill” aspect of the legislation, which tenant groups had insisted on to prevent the bypass from going through even if the moratorium was challenged. Breed proposed allowing condo conversion applications to proceed for a year after a lawsuit was filed, but Chiu said that would let TIC owners convert to condos while challenging other aspects of the legislation, such as the lifetime leases for tenants in converted buildings.

Breed and Sup. Malia Cohen, who privately and rather grimly conferred with one another and sometimes Chiu before the item began a little after 4pm, were clearly the two swing votes on the question of whether the legislation would reach the crucial eight-vote threshold needed to override a possible mayoral veto. Mayor Ed Lee has refused to take a position on the issue, leaving both sides in the dark.

But after the motion to insert Breed’s amendments failed on a 5-6 vote, the board voted 8-3 to approve Chiu’s version of the legislation, with Sups. Farrell, Scott Wiener, and Katy Tang opposed. A subsequent vote on a version of the legislation backed by Farrell and Wiener – which contained a weaker poison pill and more flexible owner-occupancy provisions – then failed on a 4-7 vote, with Breed joining the three dissenting supervisors.

Underscoring this legislation was what some supervisors called a “housing affordability crisis” in San Francisco, an issue that Mayor Lee was asked about at the start of the meeting, which he deflected by claiming “our city has some of the toughest anti-displacement laws in the nation.”

We’ll analyze that discussion and offer more details on the condo conversion debate and the politics behind it tomorrow in the space, so check back then.      


Bingo. You hit the nail on the head. Yeah, I am one of those small unit owners and have been totally screwed. Now, the only option left is to Ellis Act. In 11 years I never once considered this. Not once. Now I may have too

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

Partly because you will never be able to condo convert for 15 years at least

Partly because the ability to do so may be reduced in the future, although I doubt it.

Partly to create affordable home ownership opportunities for current SF tenants.

And partly just because you can, and to make an important political statement.

Posted by anon on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

Just like rent control, this legislation will have unintended consequences.

If 2000 units convert, SF just lost 2000 rent controlled units.

Even with 2000 conversions, the 10 year moratorium is going to help keep condo supply constrained, meaning existing condos will increase in value even more. (For those of us who already own a condo, thanks BOS!).

Just like rent control, this type of legislation is going to keep rents high and property prices high.

Posted by The Commish on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 11:34 am

Rent control keeps rents low. Most Bay Area cities have no rent control and, particularly South Bay, can have rents even higher than in SF.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

have rented 10 or 20 years ago and, lacking ambition and drive, sat on their place.

It drives up rents for everyone else because landlords are disincentivized to provide rental housing.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

Read a book, dude.

What you just said is the exact opposite of what has been studied and proved by noble prize winning economists.

Posted by Scram on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

definitively proves that rent control leads to higher rents.

Or the 1990's study showing that 92% of economists think that rent control is a failure.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

I am pretty sure that the Scram poster agrees with you. He is disagreeing with the guy who says rent control leads to lower rents.

Posted by The Commish on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

Apologies to Scram.

It is beyond me to understand how anyone can deem rent control to be successful when SF has the highest rents in the country outside of a few of the better Manhattan Zip Codes.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 13, 2013 @ 6:21 am

SF and NYC have the highest rents because they are the two densest and most popular cities in the country, as well as places that are landlocked and can't just sprawl outward. Rent control is the only thing keeping San Francisco even a little affordable by the workers of this city, the people whose labors support our biggest industry (tourism) and the restaurants, small businesses, and cultural offerings that make this city attractive. Without rent control, our freeways and transit infrastructure would be overwhelmed, something the short-sighted capitalist vampires who are sucking the lifeblood from the city -- and the handful of their shills who populate this comments section -- either don't realize or don't care about. But I have a news flash for y'all: the people are beginning to wake up to your lies. And I think you probably realize that, which is why you've all been sounding increasingly desperate and shrill in recent months. Tick, tick, tick...

Posted by steven on Jun. 13, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

Do we have rent control because of high rents, or do we have high rents because of rent control? Argue any way you want but, having had RC for nearly 35 years, the small amount of rentals available and the super high rents appears to indicate the policy has failed, except for a few middle-aged squatters with no life anyway.

NYC has had rent control since WW2 and it's even more expensive, but at least they means test it.

Steven, you sound increasingly shrill about this. Relax. It's a political debate, that is all. I'm not the anti-Christ just because I disagree with you.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 13, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

The idiot BOS, so busy dithering with themselves, have just killed the "you cannot condo if you evict" boogeyperson they've waved around these last couple of years. For a 6 unit owner like myself you've made the one choice to evict and sell much easier than say trying to sell the building inhabited by BMR lifer renters with the promise of a potential condo down the road. No more need to even consider the $100K tenant buy out. No need to negoiate. No need to worry about tenant threat or harassment charges, because there is nothing to talk about!

Good one SFTU Ted G! STUPID. IDIOTS. All of them.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 7:29 pm


Over the past few years I've been going back and forth with the plans for my 6 unit with long term tenants. The BOS has made the decision easier.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

The more Ellis act evictions we can get done, the sooner the crappy renters that make this city a toilet can be politically neutralized. There are too many of them and they vote for theIr own greedy interests in having someone else support their parasitic property addictions. The day there are more owners that renters in San Francisco will be a GREAT day!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 20, 2013 @ 11:54 pm

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