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.











It is long overdue.

Perhaps the naysayers will now realize that they had better make a deal.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

start trying to give them some concessions and incentives instead of constantly trying to put them out of business, which is basically what is happening now.

Why the disdain for those who provide you with a most basic service that they are under no obligation to provide at all?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

They buy up land and then put a legal fence around it and charge monopoly prices for people to live on that land. And then they pay downtrodden workers a pittance to do all of the upkeep and maintenance of the housing, while the landlords sit on their butts and watch their bank accounts grow.

The landlords are nothing but parasites.

Why wouldn't anyone with a clear head see that as evil?

It is.

The only landlords who are not such parasites are the ones who are renting out a part of their house so that they and the tenant can both afford to live there.

Otherwise yes. Landlords are evil people.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

And no landlord can charge you more than you agree to pay. Why are you living here if you really cannot afford to be here/

Posted by Lillipublicans on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

...in my local neighborhood thereby making my community much stronger and raising the standard of living of all of my neighbors.

I live in a really old building that was paid off almost a century ago. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for studios in that building to cost $1800 a month.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

shouldn't you pay a higher rent when a new owner buys the building and takes out a new, large mortgage?

Seems logical.

If the market for those studio's is $1,800 then that is what they are worth. Sounds quite cheap to me - it's been a long time since I've seen a rental for offer under $3K a month.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

Real estate speculators wouldn't be able to flip buildings to new owners in the first place if we blocked new owners from making easy excessive profits from the process. And hence building values would be much lower, turnover would be -dramatically- less frequent, market rates would be sane, and middle and low income tenants could stay in San Francisco and enhance their neighborhoods with lots of powerful consumer spending.

There is no reason people should expected to pay the highest possible rents that real estate speculators can milk out of them. That system is completely crazy, destroying our cities, and needs to be brought low as soon as possible so that we can live in a sane world.

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

What he said!

Posted by +ULFBERH+T on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

If you could buy a building for a dollar (like in Detroit, at the risk of mentioning that) then you could charge $1 a month in rent and all would be well.

If the building carries a 2 million mortgage with monthly payments of 10K a month, and another 2K in property taxes, how much do you think the rent has to be?

Can you work it out?

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

...to be repeatedly resold, did you not understand the first four times I wrote it?

It is a very simple concept.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

And anyway, people die and then their property gets sold thru Probate.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

I just stated the obvious that it is what should be done. And that we should immediately begin working for this result.

And yes. People die, every few -decades- or so after they buy a property. My building has changed owners at least five times in last 20 years.

That, is what is absurd.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

Do you want to ban those being sold as well?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

Personal ownership of a single home is totally different.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

being rented out. So if you passed a law like you want, I would simply Ellis, move in myself, and then I could sell. Bingo!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 8:53 am

The real problem is multi-unit buildings that get mass evicted.

And even for the limited case you present, we can simply pass laws to prevent owners from owning more than one home for the purpose of using that multi-ownership to repeatedly move in and out of various homes to evict tenants and make profits.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:28 am

Instead you should try working with property owners, and learning how to compromize.

The reason the housing market in Sf is nothing like what you want to see is because you are extreme, intransigent and almost completely out of touch with the average SF'er.

You also NEVER ask people what they want. You prefer to tell them what they should want.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:42 am

katie bar the door!

Posted by clk on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:53 am

spin those skeibahls!

Posted by clkjhdf on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:42 am

Nobody cares what laws you think we can pass. SF is moving to the right and your ill will never hold power again. Move to Oakland or better yet Detroit if you want to see your policies effected.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:52 am

ones he is suggesting that led to the Ellis Act in the first place.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:01 am

has ellis on the brain

dreams of ellis sugarplums all night long

has no other


..for his life


Posted by cf on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:16 am

and totally misses the mini-table in froth mouthed agitation!

Posted by cfdhjgj on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:02 am

keep those schaybuhl spins alive!

Posted by cl on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:54 am

Suppose there's a 3-unit building with tenants that sells for 2 million. The rents are 1K a month a unit, but the new owners costs are probably around 10K a month - over 3 times the rent he receives.

What do you think is supposed to happen here? He takes a 7K loss every month?

Either the rents have to reflect the higher costs for the new owner OR he is going to Ellis. How could he not?

You seem to assume that buildings never change hands.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

Just as health care should not be a business.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

still have to buy them, and so have mortgages, maintenance, insurance and have to pay taxes.

Buildings are very expensive to run.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

You are perfectly aware that if the city bought a building, it would be last time that the building changed hands, and therefore the costs to repay the debt would be one time costs afterwhich the price of the housing to residents would dramatically decline.

This is what we should do with all housing, everywhere.

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

What entity would manage these city owned buildings? The SF Housing Authority?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:12 pm
Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

nothing in the current law prevents you from buying a building and running it as a non-profit co-op.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 8:54 am

The problem is that it needs to happen more quickly and in much higher volume to solve the affordable housing crisis, (as well as the extreme problem of property speculation).

So we need the city to put forward revenue bonds so that we can rapidly turn all of the housing stock stock in San Francisco into co-op and other nonprofit housing.

And we can even solve for the fear of government ownership by having each unit transfer to the ownership of its resident after the initial purchase/construction cost is paid off.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:40 am

building in the city?

If we assume 1.5 million is the average price of a multi-unit building, and there are 100,000 eligible buildings, then we come up with this number:


I might be a zero off but it doesn't really make much difference.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:57 am

thinks numbers are reality!

spin sceybahls spin!

Posted by cfdhjg on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:04 am

but the tiny miniature sghibuhl holes don't care!

Posted by cfdhjgjjk on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:57 am

I like yoghurt!

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:18 am

for tea time

frozen yoghurt will be served at tea for those hungry ski ball players who enjoy it

thank you for playing miniature housing market ski ball!

save up those dime and nickles for the next ski ball arcade!

Posted by c on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:30 am

building in the city?

Figure 200,000 buildings at an average of a million each.

So that is $200,000,000,000.

Sound about right?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

So can a city with a 7 billion dollar budget.

Its all about the right revenue bond financing.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

achievement, as institutional investors would be very wary of a socialized project like this, and may just refuse to buy. Or Wall St. may just refuse to float the bonds.

The point with the co-op movement is that it is small. It doesn't scale.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:00 am

thinks co-opers need wall street

heee heee heeee

Posted by cfdh on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:08 am
Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:21 am

thank you for playing

miniature housing market ski ball!

you'll get another chance to play at the next arcade!

Posted by clldhd on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:36 am

don't take billions of scheybahls

Posted by cfdhj on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:06 am

Figure an average $1 million per unit (not building) for an assumed 240,000 current rental units. That comes out to $240 billion.

Studios would sell for far less than $1 million, but there are a lot of rental apartments located in prime real estate on the north, central and NE parts of town that would sell for far more than $1 million per unit.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

are beebees next to 20 trillion planet sized bailout bolz

Posted by clkjhd on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:48 am

It's a 20 trillion bailout "bolz" for federal government only. Then you have to add the same amount for combined state and local bailouts. Then you need to add about 10 times the US total "bolz" to cover the rest of the world's countries, cities, prefectures, provinces and hundreds of other debt-ridden government agencies. Total worldwide government debt should be one of those numbers reported monthly, like employment, CPI and GDP numbers. I'm guessing 100 trillion total worldwide government debt that will take both "forever" and "never" to be repaid.

Government debt is the literal chastity belt preventing more worldwide prosperity while enslaving the world. But it sure makes Wall Street and the mostly 1%ers very, very happy who get that interest income and lucrative debt fess thereby preventing spending on more worthwhile programs and services.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:23 am

where Eric is going to find the hundreds of billions necessary to buy every rental building in SF and hand them all over to, er, someone like him?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:34 am

socialized housing won't operate in the same financial skiball framework and won't cost *nearly* that many skiballs

(the other orksy throws much better than you!)

Posted by clldh on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:48 am

and so is allowed to toss one more ski ball

not bad orksy

cept that it was the fed with the 20 billion ski balls

(and debt is relative to gdp and only relevant when and if we decide to phase out growth skibal economics for a steady state ongoing sustainable ski ball arcade....)

Posted by clldhd on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:41 am

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