Out of place - Page 2

Evictions are driving long-time renters out of their homes -- and out of SF. Here are the stories of several people being evicted

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One TIC owner said he was financially burdened, but had only entered into the arrangement because "I wanted to stay here and raise my family, but we couldn't afford a single family home." Yet tenants brought their own set of concerns to the table, saying the temptation to create TICs was putting a major dent in the city's finite stock of rent-controlled units — the single greatest source of affordable housing in San Francisco.

"My feeling is, let's stop doing TICs," Tommi Avicolli Mecca, a tenants right activist with the Housing Rights Committee, told the Guardian following the hearing. "The city has to just start making sure that the condos that are built are the kind of thing [TIC buyers] can afford. Instead, we cannibalize our rental stock? That's a reasonable way? You evict one group of people to house another: How does that make sense?"

The grueling five-hour hearing illustrated the sad fact that San Franciscans in a slightly better economic position were being pitted against economically disadvantaged renters. The two groups were bitterly divided, and all seemed weary, furious, and frustrated by their housing situations.

The condo-conversion legislation, co-sponsored by Sups. Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell, did not move forward that day. Instead, Board President David Chiu made a motion to table the discussion until Feb. 25, to provide time for "an intensive negotiation process." Chiu, who rents his home, added: "While I myself would like to become a homeowner someday ... I do not support the legislation in its current form."

Sup. Jane Kim sought to appeal to the tenants as well as the TIC owners. "It's very tragic that we have set up a situation where [TICs and renters] are pitted against one another," she said. She hinted at what a possible alternative to might look like. "We should be looking at a ban of scale," she said. "If we allow 1,800 potential units to go thru this year, are we willing to do a freeze for the next 8 to 10 years?"

It's unclear what will happen in the next few weeks, but if this legislation makes it back to the full board in some form, the swing votes are expected to be Sups. London Breed, Malia Cohen and Norman Yee.

CASH OR EVICTION?

New protections were enacted following the late-90s frenzy to discourage real-estate speculators from using the Ellis Act to turn a profit on the backs of vulnerable seniors or disabled tenants. Yet a new wave of investors has discovered they can persuade tenants to leave voluntarily, simply by offering buyouts while simultaneously wielding the threat of an Ellis Act eviction. "The process got more sophisticated," explains San Francisco Rent Board Deputy Director Robert Collins.

Once a tenant has accepted a check in lieu of eviction, rent-controlled units can be converted to market rate, or refurbished and sold as pricey condos, without the legal hindrances of an eviction blemish. Buyouts aren't recorded with the Rent Board, and the agency has no real guidance for residents faced with this particular dilemma. "We don't have the true number on buyouts," says Mecca. "We don't know how many people have left due to intimidation."

Identity-wise, renters impacted by the Ellis Act defy categorization. A contingent of monolingual Chinese residents rallied outside City Hall recently to oppose legislation they believed would give rise to evictions; in the Mission, many targeted tenants are Latinos who primarily speak Spanish. From working immigrants, to aging queer activists, to disabled seniors, to idealists banding together in collective houses, the affected tenants do have one thing in common. When landlords or real-estate speculators perceive that their homes are more valuable unoccupied, their lives are susceptible to being upended by forces beyond their control.

Comments

Gosh, why didn't you mention David Weissman in this article?

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

construed as a way of landlords being able to move into their own properties. In fact, thatw as never the intent and, in any event, there already existing the just cause eviction of an "owner move in" to achieve that.

No, Ellis was introduced because Santa Monica, which has vacancy control at the time, was encoutering a spate of rental units being left vacant. LL's were too scared to rent them out because of vacancy control.

So Santa Monica passed a law that effectively forced LL's to rent out their units against their will. A LL sued the city over this, won on constitutional grounds, and Jim Ellis then sponsored and passed his eponymous act to ensure that a LL could always go out of the rental building, and change it's use.

If you are looking for something to blame for the Ellis Act, it's rent control itself. Ellis evictions ONLY occur in places with rent control.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

If rent control leads to evictions, what is it like to not have rent control? People who live in brand new condos in SF, which are not subject to rent control, face rent increases of $300-500 a month after their first year lease comes up. On a studio apartment, no less. Even a single person receiving a decent salary might find they can't afford that kind of jump in rent, so the increase amounts to an eviction.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

(like Phoenix, Las vegas, Dallas etc.) there is a high vacancy rate - often as much as 20%. What that means is that LL's fight with each other to offer TT's the best deal - free this, free that etc..

Could you imagine a greater contrast with SF? LL's undercutting each other to ensure that you choose them rather than another LL? It's like any normal business where the customer is king.

Sounds terrible, doesn't it?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

And that's why there are so many rentals available. Also, they have a lot of sprawl in those "cities," so there's a way bigger supply than in our land-locked SF. Those cities don't need rent control to keep rents affordable. SF does.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

then that's where you must go. Not everyone can afford the world's favorite city.

Posted by anonymous on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

San Francisco is not and should not be a pay-to-play city. Perhaps you should rethink why you are here and see if your intentions are aligned with those of the heart and soul of this city, for it seems the are not.

Posted by Brad on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

They don't have a clue what you're talking about, Brad.

Bottom liners and Drinkers of Infinity are on different planes of consciousness.

Posted by San Francisco's Lovely Soul Murdered by Greed on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

are "aligned with the heart and soul of the city"?

How adorable.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

Exactly. I'm sick of feeling like I'm destroying the city I wanted to live in my whole life just because I moved here when I could actually afford it.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 12:21 am

know in their heart that they cannot afford it. They expect some other person to give them a cheap deal so that they never have to face the consequences of their earlier decisions not to get a decent education and not to work hard at a career.

Fuck them.

Posted by anon on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 3:11 pm
No.

Fuck you.

You'd eat shit and say it tasted good if there was some money in it for you.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

You start using obscenities rather than address the issues.

Posted by anon on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

"Fuck them."

Troll who lives in glass house.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

And neither can you.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

San Francisco is not the world's favorite city.

Posted by marcos on May. 01, 2013 @ 7:29 am

If rents are not "affordable" they will not go up at all. Some one has to afford them to pay them. You are not talking about affordable rents, you are talking about greedy renters who want others to pay for what they can't afford.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

You'd also have to own a car in sprawl cities, and incur all the costs involved in that.

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 7:07 am

So, I understand not everybody can afford a rent in the City, but why can't they move out of the city? Why should someone who worked and paid for a house financially support someone who wants to live in the city with a lower rent? How does that make sense?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

The remedy is for those people to move to Oakland, Richmond, Stockton, Vallejo or wherever else suits their fiscal power.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

Only because the builders have to provide housing to people who, essentially, do nothing for a living. If I spend $1 million to build 5 studio condos, but have to give two of them away for pretty much free to a low income person, I can't sell them for $225K each and make a profit--I've got to sell them for $400K to make up for the slackers.

And PLENTY of people are using rent control to their advantage. I have a friend who pays $700 a month for a 3 bedroom apartment. She rents out two of the bedrooms for $500 a month apiece. She's making more than her landlord, and doesn't have to pay for any repairs.

Another woman I work with has a $900 a month rent-controlled apartment. She used the savings to buy herself a nice small vacation condo up in Sonoma county.

When I decided I wanted to make S.F. my home, I scrimped and saved and gave up all the fun stuff: eating out, coffee shops, etc. and scraped together a down payment for a small place in a marginal neighborhood. A few years later, I used that leverage to move to a better place, etc. Now I have a two unit building, but leave the second unit vacant for visitors--not worth the hassle of being a landlord.

I see so many people whining about being unable to afford a house as they play with their $800 iPads and drink $5 coffees and eat at $75 a person restaurants.

Posted by Scott on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

The frugality argument doesn't hold. An iPad costs $800. Not buying an iPad does not magically give a person $800 per MONTH. My first flat in San Francisco sold (long after I moved out) for $850K. The lattes of 20 subsequent years would not pay for that.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

If there was no valve between the rent you are paying and the market value of the property there would be no speculators. If is a function of your stupid rent control that makes speculation possible…so you reap what you sow in the end.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

I love it. You are lecturing people about the competitiveness of SF housing yet hoarding an apt that could be used to house some of the poor souls in this article. I bet you're on VRBO renting it as an illegal hotel while you're at it. Ah well, fate will catch up to you when you realize you can't take your greedy earnings to your grave.

Posted by Sigmarlin on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

Because he'd be an idiot to return it to rent control. Property ownership is not about morality - it's purely economic. Those without an economic interest don't understand that but when it's their money on the line - believe me they come around REAL quick.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

A month is a long tenancy for me.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

Yeah, I 'd love to see these same rent control advocates face salary conrtol at there work…Why should you greedy workers get any raises?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

that situation as employers are using mass unemployment as leverage to drive wages downwards.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 12:18 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 12:34 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

Yeah, and it will catch up with you when you can't take your crummy rent controlled apartment to your grave….

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

Having been on both sides of the fence - tenant and landlord - I've seen it all, from tenants illegally subletting their below market units on AirBnB to tenants paying so far below market they can afford to buy condos for rental income. The problem with rent control is that it perverts the market and when that happens people act perversely. One of the issues that needs to be addressed is the situation of 'true' owner occupied buildings. These people are true small businesses and can ill afford onerous regulations. Some owners are subsidizing their rent controlled tenants to the tune of $1,000/month or more based on the actual market price, and yet landlords have only been allowed to increase 2.5% (in total) for the past three years 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

Now I have a two unit building, but leave the second unit vacant for visitors--not worth the hassle of being a landlord....I see so many people whining...

Posted by marcos on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

You are hoarding empty units? Even tho they are condo's and so largely exempt from rent control?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

Marcos thinks that being a landlord is "hassle".

Can't imagine why he would think that - I thought that all you had to do as a landlord was sit back and watch the money roll in.

Amazing that Marcos would forgo the income that he would get from renting out a condo at San Francisco uncontrolled rents - I suspect there is something more to this story.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

is still too scared to rent it out, thereby depriving a SF'er of an affordable home.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

Our home is our affordable home.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

Marcos, if you rented out the other unit, you could afford something in Southeast Portland west of 50th street, which would be in your prime demographic.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:15 pm
Posted by Eddie on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

What your friend is doing in her three bedroom apartment is illegal. She cannot charge a disproportionate amount of rent in relation to the whole. The law protecting her as the master tenant is also extended to the subtenants. Someone should let them now. I hear of this a lot, and it's greedy and lame.

Posted by Loquasica on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

badly as the landlords they love to whine about.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

I heard that a welfare queen is living in a rent controlled apartment and she parades around town in her Cadillac, her son's name is Willie Horton.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 5:41 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

That's SFHA, subsidized housing, not rent control which is not subsidized.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

Subsidized housing is just more blatant about it. Prop 13 is homeowner tax subsidization by newer owners too. You know that Marcos. We all subsidize one another.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

Oh, poppycock, rent control is market regulation, housing as a regulated utility.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

in the world's favorite city is most certainly not guaranteed to you by the Constitution.

Anyone who cannot afford SF can move somewhere cheaper, apply for Section 8 vouchers, and have their rent paid.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

"Housing as a regulated utility", you have got to be kidding. Housing is essential, yes, but does not act like a monopolistic utility as does PG&E or the old Ma Bell. The housing market in the U.S. is one of the most competitive markets in the United States with many small players - owning 2-3 small rental properties. It has none of the barriers to entry as does the Electrical energy or Telecommunications markets, anyone can save up enough money to become a property owner.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

It is a necessity in a sector where the market often fails and that is the reason why it should be a regulated utility, not the barriers to entry which are indeed substantial in a place with hyper scarcity of supply and commensurate market failure like San Francisco.

Adding the amount of housing supply the likes of which would saturate the market and depress price would require an amount of infrastructure investment that nobody is prepared to make. And the resulting built form would render the city less livable and more alienating.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

having a home in a city you cannot afford most definitely is not.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 5:40 pm