Tenant groups propose sweeping package to ease the "eviction epidemic"

Longtime progressive activist Ernestine Weiss was among the attendees at our "Housing for Whom?" forum last night.

Tenant advocates today proposed a sweeping set of legislative proposals to address what they’re calling the “eviction epidemic” that has hit San Francisco, seeking to slow the rapid displacement of tenants by real estate speculators with changes to land use, building, rent control, and other city codes.

“In essence, it’s a comprehensive agenda to restrict the speculation on rental units,” Chinatown Community Development Center Policy Director Gen Fujioka told the Guardian. “We can’t directly regulate the Ellis Act [the state law allowing property owners to evict tenants and take their apartments off the rental market], but we’re asking the city to do everything but that.”

The package was announced this morning on the steps of City Hall by representatives of CCDC, San Francisco Tenants Union, Housing Rights Committee of SF, Causa Justa-Just Cause, Tenderloin Housing Clinic, UNITE HERE Local 2, Community Tenants Association, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

“San Francisco is falling into one of the deepest and most severe eviction crises in 40 years,” SFTU Director Ted Gullicksen said. “It is bad now and is going to get worse unless the city acts.”

The package includes: require those converting rental units into tenancies-in-common to get a conditional use permit and bring the building into compliance with current codes (to discourage speculation and flipping buildings); regulate TIC agreements to discourage Ellis Act abuse; increase required payments to evicted tenants and improve city assistance to those displaced by eviction; require more reporting on the status of units cleared with the Ellis Act by their owners; investigate and prosecute Ellis Act fraud (units are often secretly re-rented at market rates after supposedly being removed from the market); increase inspections of construction on buildings with tenants (to prevent landlords from pressuring them to move); prohibit the demolition, mergers, or conversions of rental units that have been cleared of tenants using no-fault evictions in the last 10 years (Sup. John Avalos has already introduced this legislation).

“The evidence is clear. We are facing not only an eviction crisis but also a crisis associated with the loss of affordable rental housing across the city. Speculative investments in housing has resulted in the loss of thousands affordable apartments through conversions and demolitions. And the trend points to the situation becoming much worse,” the coalition wrote in a public statement proposing the reforms.

Evictions have reached their high level since the height of the last dot-com boom in 1999-2000, with 1,934 evictions filed in San Francisco in fiscal year 2012-13, and the rate has picked up since then. The Sheriff’s Department sometimes does three evictions per day, last year carrying out 998 court-ordered evictions, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi told us, arguing for an expansion of city services to the displaced.

At “Housing for Whom?” a community forum the Guardian hosted last night in the LGBT Center, panelists and audience member talked about the urgent need to protect and expand affordable housing in the city. They say the current eviction epidemic is being compounded by buyouts, demolitions, and the failure of developers to build below-market-rate units.  

“We’re bleeding affordable housing units now,” Fred Sherburn-Zimmer of Housing Right Committee said last night, noting the steadily declining percentage of housing in the city that is affordable to current city residents since rent control was approved by voters in 1979. “We took out more housing than we’ve built since then.”

Peter Cohen of the Council of Community Housing Organizations actually quantified the problem, citing studies showing that only 15 percent of San Franciscans can afford the rents and home prices of new housing units coming online. He said the housing isn’t being built for current city residents: “It’s a demand derived from a market calculation.”

Cohen said the city’s inclusionary housing laws that he helped write more than a decade ago were intended to encourage developers to actually build below-market-rate units in their projects, but almost all of them choose to pay the in-lieu fee instead, letting the city find ways to build the housing and thereby delaying construction by years.

“It was not about writing checks,” Cohen said. “It was about building affordable units.”

Last night’s discussion began with a debate about the waterfront luxury condo project proposed for 8 Washington Street, which either Props. B or C would allow the developer to build. Project opponent Jon Golinger squared off against proponent Tim Colen, who argued that the $11 million that the developer is contributing to the city’s afforable housing fund is an acceptable tradeoff.

But Sherburn-Zimmer said the developer should be held to a far higher standard given the obscence profits that he’ll be making from waterfront property that includes a city-owned seawall lot. “Public land needs to be used for the public good.”

Longtime progressive activist Ernestine Weiss sat in the front row during the forum, blasting Colen and his Prop. B as a deceptive land grab and arguing that San Francisco’s much ballyhooed rent control law was a loophole-ridden compromise that should be strengthened to prevent rents from jumping to market rate when a master tenant moves out, and to limit rent increases that exceed wage increases (rent can now rise 1.9 percent annually on rent controlled apartment.

“That’s baloney that it’s rent control!” she told the crowd.












The island of Bali has been dealing with a rabies epidemic among dogs for a number of years now (they have a lot of strays).

Given that it's a Hindu island, their attitude towards killing animals is much like Eric's. Nevertheless, they shoot rabid dogs.

There are a number of reasons for this:

1) Rabies is incurable, and a rabid dog is in agony. You do a rabid dog no favors by keeping it alive - it's not going to survive, and all you are doing is prolonging its agony.

2) Rabid dogs are incredibly dangerous - you get a little of a dog's saliva in an open cut, and you have to get rabies vaccine. If you didn't notice that you got a little of a dog's saliva in an open cut, and don't get the vaccine, then you die in agony.

Nobody does anything but shoot rabid animals. Nobody. Of course, as a privileged First Worlder in a big city, you don't realize that.

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

sure that it really is actually rabid before you kill it and/or before you subject people to rabies vaccines if they were bitten by that animal

Posted by nflkju on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:19 pm

"sure that it really is actually rabid before you kill it and/or before you subject people to rabies vaccines if they were bitten by that animal"

LOL. Which is why absolutely no one does that.

Rabid animals are not subtle. You kill it, and then confirm that it is rabid.

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:32 am

Have you told your landlord about your view?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:56 am

"They are essentially very large rabid wild animals that must be stopped before they hurt and kill people and destroy neighborhoods."

SFBG certainly has an interesting collection of regulars who make up for the tedium of their low income lives with violent fantasies of striking down their economic and social betters.

Fortunately, I'm not like that.

I like yoghurt.

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

Now I feel better.

Seriously though, there is so much anger here. Why don't people lighten up and stop taking themselves so seriously?

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

high net worth individuals who fantasize about a free-market paradise as they profit from state intervention on their behalfs. Tedious.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:34 pm

almost extinct. I suspect that informs his weirdness.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

Evil landlords can best be eliminated by converting rental units into owner-occupied units. The Ellis Act allows repentant landlords a way out.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

And provides affordable home ownership opportunities for hard working San Franciscans.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

Rent conrtoled tenants are the actual parasites...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

At minimum, property owners who provide housing to "protected" tenants should be incentivized to remain the rental business. Their valuable public service could be rewarded with property tax credits and/or other city-sponsored subsidies.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

for landlords who have the most egregiously low rents in their building and feel trapped.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

No one asked you to "provide housing" so we're sure as hell not going to be giving you subsidies to continue to be a landlord. How funny (insane) is that.

If you don't want to be a landlord, it's simple. Sell your building. Dozens of buyers will be lined up at your doorstep tomorrow morning with cash in hand.

"Give us landlord subsidies and tax credits." LOL x 100!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

If you don't want to be a landlord, it's even more simple: Ellis and sell the units individually as TICs.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:47 pm

It's true that if ever a landlord wanted to get out of the "housing business" this is the time to sell those units as TICs, pocket the cash and move on. This is a fairly formidable group of organizations that have finally turned their sights onto TIC conversions, so the rules will start getting a lot more difficult and the number of buyers will begin shriveling.

Even the mayor will start feeling some heat from the Ellis evictions. Every Ellis eviction going forward will be another big news event with the owner's name and reputation and personal finances splashed across the news pages. And if multiple city departments get involved to sign off on the TICs before actual sales can begin, there goes another 8 months or more by which time the market may have turned. There's nothing worse than having cleared out the tenant families from an 6-unit building and then find the sales market has cratered and no one wants to buy them. It puts a damper on the cash flow since they can't be rented either. Bummer.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

You're right. The time to act is now.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

Just wait until Urban Green Ellis Act evicts a woman from her home of over 50 years on her 98th birthday, that might be national news. Even Scott "close the parks and put on some damn clothes" Wiener showed up at the event on Noe Street last weekend and expressed his support for rent control and opposition to Ellis Act evictions that he is powerless to stop.

The rapid pace of no-fault evictions fueled by the tech and real estate bubbles (assisted by Federal Reserve easy money) is shocking in its intensity and breaking the hearts of many longtime San Francisco residents across all socio-economic categories. The push back is now and I hope it has the political legs you describe.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

It was surprising how quickly the Lee eviction fight was resolved in the property owner's favor. It appears that the majority of people don't believe that renters should expect to stay in privately owned property for their entire lives - especially at a steep discount.

Hopefully they will find government sponsored housing.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 1:02 am

big majority of people in Sf accept change and progress, and want to see respect for state laws.

The irony is that we only have the Ellis Act because local rent control laws pushed too far, and yet the tenant mob never learn and are repeating the same error.

I do not believe that TIC's can be legally prevented for a variety of reasons. but even if they were, expect a new state law like Ellis to come along and guarantee property owners an unfettered right to TIC.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:13 am

owners over renters, especially poor ones. That's your great insight? Thanks for sharing.

The laws we get don't contain solutions to problems we have. They reflect the power dynamics within society.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:19 am

that helps create social stability. Most voters own their own homes and so support that. Which is why we have Prop 13 and deductibility of mortgage interest and no CGT on selling your home.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:34 am

Yes, the system subsidizes and encourages home ownership because it creates "social stability," aka people being tied to property and the existing doomed economic system. But that's not true if SF, where two-thirds of citizens rent, which gives people the very freedom that we're trying to preserve and exert

Posted by Steven T. Jones on Oct. 29, 2013 @ 7:17 am

that the (state) law favored the speculator over the residents, not your unsupported statement about public sentiment towards tenants.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:37 am

It was about returning some rights to a property owner that had unconstitutionally been taken from them. It was merely righting a wrong.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:45 am

Eric, do you really see six votes from this Board of Supervisors for the parts of this that courts won't throw out?

If CCHO was concerned about in-lieu versus on-site inclusionary, they'd not have agreed to cut the on-site in order to get at that big rock of crack, rather pushed to raise the off-site.

The people who mis/repped the progressive side to cut these horrendous zoning and housing policy deals over the past ten years will not be the ones to lead us out of this mess they've not been able to keep us from getting into.

If the only way to build new affordable is by entitling new luxury, then if the onus can't be put onto TIC speculators, then it must be put onto luxury developers by significantly reducing the development envelope and conditioning any increases in envelope on deep affordability, more %age units across a broader range of incomes.

Good luck getting 6 votes for that or 4 supe sigs for the ballot. The only way to move this agenda is to start organizing again NOW to bring a range of progressive housing proposals to the November 2014 ballot. We all know that if that happens, then the City cash spigot to CCHO and HRC gets cut off something quick.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

I'm an optimist on this one. Your are right that this isn't the whole solution, but at least it is forward action when we did not have that before.

And going to the ballot is a damned good idea.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

would like to buy a home one day.

TIC's are the best home ownership opportunity for many San Franciscans, many of whom are tenants now.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

Did you read the article, anon? Probably not since you just like to pontificate your same old spiel without thinking.

I'll help you out. The article states that only 15% of current SF tenants can afford a TIC in the city. But many of them have no interest in buying a TIC, so they have no reason to oppose any ballot measure further restricting their creation and regulation. And not all home-owners are keen to lose their friends and workmates to TIC evictions/conversions either, so don't count on all of them voting for your side. You'll get the landlord vote, I'll grant you that. But alas, many SF landlords don't even live in the city so that's a shame for your side too.

Most TIC buyers are currently studying away in the nation's top universities, hoping for a job with stock options at one of the big Bay Area technology employers. Unfortunately, they're not around to vote either.

I'm guessing most TIC buyers didn't even live in SF 2 years before they purchased, but of course the Planning Department, mayor and Board of Supervisors can't give us any information about the demographics of who is buying TICs or who is buying all of the condos that have been built over other past 15 years. We don't even know how many 2nd and 3rd homes people have in SF that aren't full-time occupants.

Fortunately for you, the government has always supported investors, property speculators and TIC converters much more than the families who are displaced from the government's indifference, so you have that going for you.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

They are:

1) A nurse
2) A teacher
3) An older retired IT guy
4) A lawyer

Only #4 is in any way affluent. The others are ordinary middle-class SF'ers who were formerly tenants in SF.

In fact, TIC's are the only affordable option for many SF tenants, and these ideas are really designed to keep people like these as tenants forever, thinking that that means they will vote a certain way.

I have news for you - they will not. They will be angry.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:10 am

only 15% of current SF residents (not just tenants) can afford TIC's at current prices.

I bet your (apocyphral?) acquaitances bought their TIC's long ago when prices were much lower.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:22 am

The last few years.

If only 15% of SF'ers can afford a new home, then they can consider homes outside SF. But I do not believe the 15% figure as it doesn't take into account parental gifts, inheritances, stock options windfalls and so on.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:33 am

is family wealth. The 85% of San Franciscans that can't afford to buy new homes here don't need new homes, they already live here.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:57 am

And lots of kids inherit the proceeds of their family homes.

If homes are expensive, then you will eventually inherit them, and benefit from that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 8:52 am

Nobody whose livelihood is dependent on income from an organization that receives money from the City can be involved in leading the contesting of these issues.

These groups with city dependencies have led us to defeat and are pretty much institutionally locked in to those arrangements. The path to different outcomes would be in a different direction than they've been leading us for the past 15 years.

Are they willing to move in a different direction?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

Unite Here?

Causa Justa?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Tenant's Union is independent and has had a historical record of success at the ballot box. Not sure about Causa Justa.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

Skepticism is understandable, but not total cynicism.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

It can be done!

Posted by +ULFBERH+T on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

You've got your condo so why do you care what other people do? No one is trying to take your unit away or add conditions to its use.

But even though you've got no stake in this issue you continue to denigrate people who are actually trying to do something. Why don't you just shut-up sometimes, especially in an area of expertise like housing and rent laws that you really know little about no matter how much you think you're an expert.

This is a fairly well-thought out list of actions items. It won't prevent TIC conversions pe se, but it adds some hoops that may discourage people from pursuing conversions, which helps limit speculation on rental buildings and may help limit some displacements.

An as far as I can tell, the non-profit housing groups aren't getting a lot out of pursuing this agenda other than supporting existing tenant groups like HRC (that gets very little city money) and the Tenants Union (that gets none). More importantly, it builds a fairly robust coalition that could have influence over the important 2014 elections that will help build leadership and technical skills among the many participants, and it puts pressure on the mayor and BOS who have been making this a city for the rich over the past 10 years.

You're beyond a nasty crank. You're merely a domineering, hate-fill loser who hates to see anybody doing anything that doesn't have your name on it. Get over yourself. And quit calling yourself a progressive since you wouldn't know what a progressive looked like even if it bit you in the ass. "Progressive" is listening to others. "Progressive" is respecting others who are different or have different ideas. "Progressive" is following what the group wants to do even if its not what you want to do. You may not be making any money by tearing down progressive organizations, but the wealthy landlords and downtown business interests couldn't have found a better tool than you, racer, lilli and Brooks.

What a joke of a person and joke of a life. You're mom was wrong - you're not special. And you're actually fairly ignorant about complicated subjects like housing policy and development that you presume to be such an expert. Your constant blatherings on this site prove that every day. As usual, the people who blabber the most have the least to say.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

should go in the concern troll hall of fame

well crafted

(if incredibly fucked up)

Posted by uflkdjgl on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

Admit that the current policies and leadership have failed dramatically. Everything the Progressive housing activists promised to prevent has occurred - accelerated even.

Housing is more expensive than ever. Housing security is at an all time low.

Dismal failures.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

And, seriously, dude, they throw one of these big meetings when they need political heft for a campaign to cut the next deal. These campaigns serve as a neutralizing outlet to ground out populist resistance to the neoliberal remaking of San Francisco. It is all about trading volunteer energy for cash money and it is progressive corruption in bed with corporate corruption.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

something that can carry a majority and that won't get bounced by the courts.

Ask for everything; settle for something. And always leave the other guy with something too.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

These proposals seem fairly modest, if not rather milquetoast. A CU permit? Sounds reasonable and clearly within a city's power. Additional city inspections for health and safety considerations? Who can be against that? Not the courts, that's for sure. Follow-up enforcement of previous Ellis Act evictions to ensure state laws are being met? Who can be against that?

If the entire package doesn't sail through the BOS I'd be very surprised. If Mayor Lee wants to veto the legislation - which I don't think he would since the proposals are so modest - then either it gets overridden with 8 BOS votes or some supes will be in the hot seat come next election time. Some of the people in the coalition will be very active against any supervisor who is not willing to pass these milquetoast regulations while watching the city evict its long-term residents, including many of its elderly and families.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

Very modest, indeed. The costs will just be passed on to the TIC purchasers.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

A CU permit applies only where the use of a building changes e.g. from residential to commercial. It doesn't apply when the change is from residential to residential, which is the case here.

Again, TIC isn't a "use" of a building at all. it's a form of ownership. A couple who buy a SFH can own it as "joint tenants" (usual for a married couple" or as a TIC, which simply means that, if one of the parties dies, their share of the property passes thru probate via their will, instead of accruing upon death to the other party.

The city has tried before to treat TIC's as changes of use or as sub-divisions, and the courts have always rejected that because a TIC is just a legal concept and not a "thing" at all.

As for the DBI thing, you appear to be arguing that it is OK for rental buildings not to be safe and inspected UNLESS they are Ellis'ed. That's insane since Ellis'ed buildings are usually re-habbed anyway, which means DBI involvement. But you're happy to leave the building uninspected if it has tenants in it?

Using the DBI to punish property owners for exercizing their rights under state Law will be bounced in a minute.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:06 am

comments to mean that only Ellis Act candidate buildings should be inspected and up to code.

That's your strawman.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:24 am

If they suddenly start inspecting more TIC's then that means less resources to inspect tenanted buildings.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:30 am

nickles is all it takes!

step up and toss the mini skeeballs at the tiny tables!

pop one into the smallest hole (very tiny) and win a market rate one bedroom apartment that would normally coast 500 billion dollars per year

for FREE

Posted by ckdfgjkdh on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:20 am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.