Out of place - Page 5

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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The trio recently joined tenant advocates in visiting Sup. Norman Yee, their district supervisor, to tell their stories. Yee, who is expected to be one of the swing votes on an upcoming debate about condo-conversion legislation vehemently opposed by tenant activists, reportedly listened politely but didn't say much.

As for what the next few months have in store for the Egers? "I can't really visualize the outcome," Rose says. "I can only visualize the day-to-day fight. And that's scary."

 

Fighting for a home in the Mission

By Tim Redmond

Eleven years ago, Olga Pizarro fell in love with Ocean Beach. A native of Peru who was living in Canada, she visited the Bay Area, saw the water and decided she would never leave.

Fast forward to today and she's built a home in the Mission, renting a small room in a basement flat on Folsom Street. The 55-year-old has lived in the building for eight years; polio has left her wearing a leg brace and she can't climb stairs very well, but she still rides her bike to work at the Golden Gate Regional Center. She's a sociologist by training; the walls in her room are lined with bookshelves, with hundreds of books in Spanish and English.

The place isn't fancy, and it needs work, but it's hard to find a ground-floor apartment in the Mission that's affordable on a nonprofit worker's salary. Since 2011, when she moved in, she and her three housemates have been protected by rent control. And Pizarro's been happy; "I love the neighborhood," she told me.

The letter warning of a pending eviction arrived Jan. 16. A new owner of the building wants to turn the place into tenancies in common and is prepared to throw everyone out under the Ellis Act. There's no place else in town for Pizarro to go.

"I've looked and looked," she said. "The cheapest places are $2,500 a month or more. Maybe I'll have to move out of the city."

Pizarro's building is owned by Wai Ahead, LLC, a San Francisco partnership registered to Carol Wai and Sean Lundy. I couldn't reach Wai or Lundy, but their attorney, Robert Sheppard, had plenty to say. "San Francisco is going the way of New York," he told me. "Manhattan is full of co-ops that used to be rentals, and lower-income people are moving to Brooklyn and Queens. That's happening here with Oakland and further out." He argued that TICs, like co-ops, provide home-ownership opportunities for former renters.

Sheppard, who for years represented tenants in eviction cases, said the Ellis Act is law, and America is a capitalist country, and "as long as there is a private housing market, there will be shifts of people as the housing market shifts." He agreed that it's not good for lower-income people to lose their homes, but "the poor will always be hurt by a changing economy. It's called evolution."

Pizarro told me she's shocked at how expensive housing has become in the Mission. "It's gotten so gentrified," she said. "People show up in their BMWs. It's starting to feel very isolated."

She's fighting the eviction. "I didn't intend it to be this way," she explained. "I just want to live here." Lacking any family in the area, the Mission has become her community — "and I'm frustrated by the violence of how expensive it is."

 

Affordability goes out of style

Comments

"cleansing" because they are very expensive places that the poor cannot afford?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

I feel badly when anybody gets evicted through no fault of their own. But what the Bay Guardian seems to not understand is that Ellis Act evictions are a symptom of the problem not the problem itself. When you make owning rental property in San Francisco as onerous, unpleasant and uneconomic as possible, why should you be surprised that more and more landlords are just taking themselves out of the rental business? So called "progressives" pursue housing policies that succeed only in reducing the supply of housing, discouraging landlords from investing in their properties and driving up the cost of housing outside rent control’s reach. San Francisco enforces rent control by suppressing annual rent increases to 60 percent of the rise in the cost of living. Over the last decade, permitted annual increases have averaged 1.25 percent. As costs — building owners’ tax, maintenance and other expenses — have increased at an annual rate substantially higher than that, every year owning rental property becomes less economically viable. Under inclusionary rules, market-rate and affordable housing in San Francisco are developed in tandem — so opposition to market-rate projects is, by definition, opposition to their affordable equivalent. And tenant activists are among the most ardent opponents of market-rate housing. Therefore, tenant activists should not be surprised this is where the city’s rental market is heading because It’s where they’ve driven it and if they need to know who is to blame then they should look in the mirror.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 11:34 am

higher rents. There's a very comprehensive proof of that from the Cato Institute that you should google and read.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

The Cato Institute is a conservative propaganda mill. No need to read some the-more-selfish-we-become-the-better filth.

Posted by Greedy Landlords Are Ruining San Francisco on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:10 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

No. The Cato Institute produces "propaganda", not 'factoids' to serve wealthy cold blooded slime and their minions.

Like yourself.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

Unless you're so ideologically skewed that reason, logic, evidence and proof mean nothing to you. SF is living proof that rent control leads to high rents.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

You act as if rent control affects the entire city. It is only buildings built before 1979. That is why activists say if you want to buy a condo so bad buy a new space, don't take away the precious, finite stock of pre-1979 buildings. Why is this so hard to understand?

Can't the greedy property owners cooperate. Stay on your side of the line and let the people of modest means alone so they can stay here and teach your children, make your lattes, draw your blood and they don't have to commute in from Richmond.

That Cato report is BS, btw...There are well researched counter reports out there too.

Posted by Sigmarlin on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

We plan on living west of 82d avenue if we were to make the move, so, no, not that.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

set the rent at what the market will bear, or at an affordable elvel so as to just cover your costs and no more?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

I'm sure Marcos intends to rent out his condo for whatever the market will bear, but he may find out that being an out-of-state absentee landlord is not quite as easy as he thinks it is.

After all it's **so** easy to evict someone in San Francisco...

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

grateful that such actions must be recorded at the Rent Board, and so his vicious persecution of a low income tenant will be available for all to see.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

If they could afford to rent the unit at market rate in a few years time, then they're axiomatically not low income.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

cannot afford it, then they should not rent from you?

Hmm, sounds exactly like the argument to justify Ellis'ing a building. Those tenants could not afford to rent in SF either.

Try again.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

Brutal read, but fun none the less. Talk about getting your dick kicked in. You would think - with such blatantly clear ammo to use against him in regards to him being a tech guy in the Mission who owns a unit that was previously rent controlled housing stock - he'd maybe stay clear of this argument?

But no, he's fighting! Fight on, marcos!

Posted by Scram on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

just digs himself deeper and deeper.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

Troll Hijack: when they lose they all tag team on the victor.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

Of course.

Immigrants and minorities live east of 82nd in Portland. Can't have that.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

West of 82nd: yuppies,gays and gentrifiers.

East of 82nd: blacks, hispanics and white trash.

marcos wouldn't last 5 minutes east of 82nd and he knows it.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

The white liberal neighborhoods sorta peter out around 50th and it becomes pretty working class. After 65th it's really Felony Flats.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

I grew up in San Francisco and it still remains my favorite city in the world...but I'm saddened by the housing situation...driving locals out of the community. this isn't the SPIRIT of the real San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

it's all about a HOUSING SHORTAGE!

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

affordable housing are the same folks who complain about every new condo tower. They want cheaper housing but not more housing. Weird.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

You're absolutely correct. That was the main thrust of the article. But the apologists for greed and heartlessness haven't a clue what you meant!

Posted by Greedy Landlords Are Ruining San Francisco on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

Landlords just want a market rent.

Tenants want an artificially rediced rent so that they can have a home that they cannot afford.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:19 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

While the use of Ellis Act is unfortunate, we need to consider the bigger picture of the rights of home/property owners (the government tells you what you can/can't do?) along with how bad rent control really is. This is more of an issues of rent control where property owners are in effect required to subsidize their customers (tenants). In what other industry is one group of citizens required to subsidize another?

Farm subsidies-tax payers
Corporate subsidies-tax payers
etc.

Helping low income tenants is a good thing. EVERYONE should be contributing to that (even HIGH income tenants) and everyone that lives in SF. Share the burden and raise taxes on everyone, rather than restricting the rights of property owners and forcing them to subsidize tenants.
You'll see that buildings will be better maintained, too when the burden is shared by everyone.
Rent control is an example of bad unintended consequences and a bad policy where now it's bad for everyone...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

If you buy a building with rent controlled units, the price will reflect that. It is not the renters fault that they stuck around so long, paying every rent payment on time and when they moved in it was as MARKET RATE and acceptable to the owner at the time. Please quit exaggerating about the effects of rent control. It is only pre 1979 buildings with more than 2 units. It is not everywhere and doesnt distort the market as madly as you claim. And if a renter is receiving a subsidy? Good for them. It balances out all the ridiculous tax deductions owners get. Depreciation being the worst. Our wages pay the mortgages of bloodsucking profiteers and then landlords complain about how hard their work is. Oh boo hoo. It's hard spending dad's inheritance isnt it?

Posted by Sigmarlin on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

If you play this right, it's a goldmine. So here's how rent control works out, in the real world. Here's the real consequences...

I own a 1 bedroom rental, which comes up for rent in July. Now, if you are *any* of the following:

- Are over 50
- Show any slight hint of disability
- Have children
- Work a job that doesn't show immediate signs of upward mobility (ex. - waiters and artists - out. Corporate drones and advanced programmers - in)
- Look like you could even possibly be HIV+
- Have a record collection
- Actively work or volunteer in various lefty social causes
- Show any sign of shopping at Rainbow Grocery
- Have any sort of law background
- Read the SFBG

YOU'RE NOT GETTING THE PLACE. EVER. Would love to rent to you, you're probably 10x more interesting than the person who is actually going get the place, but I just can't take that risk. Not a chance. I'll take boring and temporary over interesting and potentially there forever. I've seen $50K payouts - numerous times - and I'm sure as fuck not going to be the guy who gives it to you.

So there's you're rent control. Congrats on the results. You fuckin' dummies, lol.

Posted by Scram on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

Evil Scram,
Please choke to death as soon as possible on your own greedy vomit.
Love,
a "funkin' dummy"

Posted by San Francisco's Lovely Soul Murdered by Greed on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

anyone who looks like he will stick around, isn't a (non lawyer) professional, or is a loser to never to be able to find a place.

I not rent only very short-term, a few nights or weeks, at most. Mostly to foreigners (CraigsList nor has sites all over the world - perfect for finding visitors, tourists and those on short-term work or study contracts)

They are polite, respectful, pay in advance, never assert any "rights" and, most importantly, LEAVE.

Rent Control and those who abuse it have ruined the rental game for everyone.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

Preposterous and vile comment. Rent control is fair, very fair. There are other human beings in this world besides property "owners" and their demoniacal greed. These other human beings need to be protected from the likes of you. Hence, rent control.

Posted by Greedy Landlords Are Ruining San Francisco on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

properties, just like you can choose who stays in or visits your home.

and rent control makes it inevitable that landlords will prefer tenants who will move on quickly.

Outside of RC, landlords want the opposite - find a good tenant and keep him forever. But with RC, that approach is suicide, and leads to Ellis evictions.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

Not really. Landlords have to operate under the fair housing laws at the federal level, have to essentially use price as the criteria for deciding who to rent to or face a discrimination lawsuit. After they've rented, then they are not able to choose who lives there because we have a rent stabilization law.

Problem?

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

how this works.

Yeah, sure, I cannot reject a candidate because he is white, straight or christian. That's true.

But from the poor of applicants who meet my credit and background criteria, I am perfectly free to choose who. I don't have to choose the black lesbian just because she is a black lesbian and the rest are white males. a lot of people are confused and think that I do.

Likewise, if I have ten qualified candidates, and one is a German academic here for a 6 month assignment then I can absolutely choose him. Looking like a "lifer" who is going to be an asshole about his "rights" is not a protected group.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

if you're rejecting people on the basis of race or sexual orientation.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

A LL sets his criteria for a tenant in terms of income, credit score, background check and so on. If you make those criteria strict, you'll typically find that 90% of the successful candidates are white anyway.

Suppose there are ten straight white males who qualify and one black lesbians. I am then free to choose on personal criteria. That is no basis there for a claim of discrimination.

However, if only the black lesbian qualifies and then I choose a white male who did not qualify, I could be in trouble. Still not likely as such cases are very hard to prove. But possible.

Any landlord would know this.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

Where are the African Americans, first generation immigrants, and families with children in this article?

Posted by Liz Schoyer on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

The main commentators here are all white males.

It shows all the time.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

"Where are the African Americans, first generation immigrants, and families with children in this article?"

Generally speaking, they don't benefit from rent control. The article accurately indicates the demographic of who benefits from rent control - Tim's (and the SFBG's) demographic: white, generally educated people.

It's why Tim cares so deeply about this.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 7:08 am

From my SF highschool, those that inherited their grandmother's house have stayed. A few other's are lawyers, but they are functionally poor from the law school debt.

What isn't talked about in this article, but is interesting are the people who use Rent Control to take advantage of subtenants by charging a "market rate" or disproportionate amount for a bedroom in a rent controlled apartment. For example, my friend pays $1200 for a bedroom in a rent controlled building on 10th and Howard. It's a grotty building and a funky apartment with roaches, and the areas is sketchy, so it seemed like a lot to me. After probing, my friend's observations we found this out. The master tenant or roommate has lived there for six years. Bedrooms in that area were not $1200 six years ago. The total rent is $1900. Turns out the master tenant is going to school and only working half time. He is charging my friend double of what he pays.

That is illegal, and you can research that at the Rent Board, Topic 154, Limit's on Rend Charged by Master Tenant:

"A master tenant may not charge a subtenant more rent upon initial occupancy of the subtenant than that rent which the master tenant is currently paying to the landlord."

Posted by Loquasica on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

I do not think the City is truly bothered by developers' use of the Ellis Act. First, the city benefits from this process as this increases its property tax revenues. Thanks to Prop 13, long-time owners of housing stock have benefited from extremely low tax rates. Once the old buildings is sold, the new buyers have to pay current property tax rates. Second, as city politicians elected by their constituencies to represent the entire city, losing a few renters who pay sub-market rents will not adversely affect their chances of re-election. If anything, the politicians will probably appreciate the ultimate "upgrade" to their neighborhoods (currently, all but one superintendent are homeowners), that is being produced by the new owners who do not care for anything other than their own pocket book. Our elected officials are not representing the vast majority of renters in the city; rather, they are protected their own interests as property owners.

I do not expect any real legislation against this process. For the record, after almost 30 years residence in North Beach, I anticipate receiving an Ellis Act eviction soon.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

Now it's time for someone else to make some money. You appear to agree that is fair, and that these conversions upgrade the human stock of this city.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

Upgrade to the human stock is nonsense and was presented sarcastically. The qualities that made this city great over the last 30 years have been the artistic, cultural and creative citizens. After all of these years, they are forced out, as if they are garbage -- little concern for their welfare. It comes down to money, everything else is nonsense in this discussion. Renters have and will always be second class citizens, even though they make up the majority of city residents and their voices are not reflected in this political discussion. There is nowhere in the Bay Area for artistic people to move to -- Oakland has become too expensive also, since fixer houses sell for $400K-$500K. I hear good things about Portland.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

wouldn't a few dozen be sufficient? Where is the public policy imperative of letting such outcasts live here en masse? And at our expense?

Posted by anon on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 10:52 am

Bad artists are the key to San Francisco's culture!

Bad artists are "Drinkers of Infinity", and should be above such mundane things like paying rent!

Any self-identified "creative person" should have a cheap apartment in perpetuity!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 11:19 am

Anybody who had *actually* *attended* Jesse Helms' art appreciation seminar would know that.

Pretender.

Posted by I cull bill pains on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 11:48 am

The writer states that TICs are "creating an incentive for buyers to enter into risky, high-interest shared mortgages" and that's just not true at all. I am no fan of TICs, but there is nothing at all risky about buying a TIC in San Francisco.

Living in a TIC gives you stability and comparatively cheap monthly livings expenses IF YOU HAVE A DOWN PAYMENT, which nobody has. And you're not taking away a rental unit, because you are turning yourself form a renter to an owner, a net net.

If you can come up with $100,000 to $150,000 to buy a $600k you can buy a two to three bedroom flat in San Francisco, and get an individual mortgage that is almost identical to a condo in every way. Not everybody buys for the possibility of condo conversion. Also: You don't have to get a shared mortgage. There are banks that lend on TICs the same way they lend on condos.

At that point, your mortgage costs are around $2400-$2900 per month, a large portion of which is tax deductible. After tax for a middle class person making $80,000 per year is about $2,200-$2800. Now tell me where in San Francisco you can rent a three bedroom flat for less than $2,800. You can't.

And of course, you have control of your life, and when and if you move, you have lots of equity saved up after years of paying for the place. A good deal all around.

But who can afford a downpayment? Who can get into these deals? Very few. And that's the unfair part. Only the rich or very lucky can get into these deals.

If this City really wanted to solve the housing crisis, they would buy up apartment buildings all over town, and offer no interest loans to people to buy the units and underwrite their ownership of their flat. The renter would become an owner, and would in every case save money buy owning rather than renting. There would be defaults, sure, but 90% of more would work out fine. A City of owners is stable and good for our community.

Nobody should live with the unpredictability of having someone buy out your home and kick you out. But at the end of the day, ownership rights are holy in America. That won't change. The goal should be for City government to do everything it can to turn every renter who wants to be one, an owner.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 5:42 am

Good, then there is no need for a program to drain the condo conversion pool because lottery odds were too high.

Did you hear the endless caterwauling of TIC commune members about the absolute and immediate necessity of them converting to condo during last month's hearing?

The sounds of middle class entitlement demanding a gift from the government for their benefit and convenience that screws over others was deafening.

Either there is a big problem with TICs or there is not. Bait and switch and distract, TICs are a bad deal all around under current rules.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 7:05 am

TICs groups who could only qualify for shared loans will just have to give up their properties to the higher income buyers who qualify for fractional loans. Isn't that the plan?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 9:07 am