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.











i meant to type that the fed bailed out banks globally with 20 *trillion* not billion

Posted by xkdejh on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

Well put. SF could use its ample collateral to leverage 10:1 in loans to purchase housing via a public bank/.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 11:02 am

Collateral rapidly loses it's value to hypothecate if it is either economically or politically difficult to seize and sell.

The city would be better off selling its assets and leasing them back, if it was really serious about doing this.

But of course it isn't, because this a fringe, whacked idea that only about 3 people in SF believe in. And they are all here.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 11:26 am

Most all bank collateral is illiquid until it is liquidated if needed.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

the amount of the notional value of that collateral that can be hypothecated. So for instance a billion in Treasuries will get you a bigger loan than a billion in equities, real estate or junk bonds.

And it's not just about the credit quality and volatility of the hypothecated asset. It's also about how easy it is to dispose of. A building in SF might be tough to shift in a down market, for instance, so using that as collateral for another SF building adds risk.

Finally, most investors want to diversify. They do not want all their collateral in the same jurisdiction, and certainly not in a city that has already used devices like eminent domain to buy what they otherwise could not.

It's important that you know how bonds are floated, and even revenue bonds have to stand up.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

Who the hell wants the government to be their landlord? Governments are bureaucratic, slow, cautious, and always fight for the wealthy, politically connected, and powerful.

95% of the population can manage their own housing unit, thank you. We don't need 3rd parties imposing their rules and regulations on us. Leave it to the liberal reactionaries like Eric to think the government knows better than the people they're supposed to represent.


Stay out of our pants

Stay out of our housing

Stay out of our bodies

Stay out of other country's affairs

Stay out of our wallets

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


People who live in their buildings could be empowered to manage them.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

Again, who wants a 3rd party involved with one of the most basic human activities, housing? Does the government decide if we can tear down walls and remodel? Do they decide what color we can paint it? Do they decide if we can rewire? Do they decide if we can add a remote-controlled garage?

If you want to take the profit out of housing, you can't without causing all sorts of other distortions. Let people buy and sell as they see fit and just tax the hell out of any profits - especially profits on landlord owned properties and non-owner occupied residences (2nd and 3rd homes) - and enact laws that strongly discourage private landlords from thinking they can make a buck out of managing other people's housing. If there's little profit to be made, landlords will move on and invest in something else.

And stop with the paternalistic solutions. People are generally smart and can figure out things for themselves. We don't need some prying, officious government agent there to watch over us. For the 5-10% of the population who have various disabilities and can't manage their own housing, support building more non-profit managed housing for them, along with providing the services they need for a better life. But for the vast majority of the population, 3rd party overlords - whether government or private landlords - are a big step backwards for a more progressive and prosperous future.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

Does mean third party management.

Residents can manage themselves.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:01 pm
Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

can manage their own

lives and homes

Posted by clkj on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:51 am

Your naïveté is adorable.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 8:31 am

is really naive to think his barbs matter

Posted by cfdhjgjj on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:01 am
Posted by clkjh on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:50 am

spinning and spinning

and working :)))))

Posted by cfd on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:11 am

Ideally, we are the government, there is no paternalism involved, just collective action for the benefit of the individual members of the collective.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

elected government is doing. Your brand of activism is very anti-democratic because it involves trying to impose your minority viewpoint on the majority.

The problem with the left is that they are so totally convinced that they are right regardless of elections, that they think anyone who disagrees with them is corrupt, or stupid, or bought.

It never occurs to yo that you are just a fringe extremist minority, and that is why you always lose.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

To the contrary, when I was active, we won more than half of the elections we contested. Once most noncombatants like me who volunteered to make the City better were marginalized by the professionals, progressives began to lose elections. I'm a radical democrat. Talking to people one on one, they get these ideas. The corrupt politically connected vested interests are the ones that take issue with anything that would threaten Their Good Thing.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

And you cannot possibly have talked to ordinary people and come away with the idea that they agree with you. After all, most of them voted for Ed Lee, and various other moderate mayors before him.

You move in a small circle of like-minded people and so think that you are on the cusp of common thinking, and yet you are not.

Your ship sailed and you were left on the dock.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

I meet with folks in our neighborhoods who are not paid to do politics and we share many concerns. They don't agree with me on everything but they do agree that politics is too corrupt, they just want government to deliver on what they pay taxes for, they don't want less government.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

If it was, Avalos would be Mayor.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

The CCHO crowd nixed this painfully obvious solution years ago because it might involve people who do exceed their AMI income caps in affordable housing. I like the idea of current market rate rent payers paying down what will become permanently affordable housing. It captures the velocity of the boom into permanent affordability. The Section 8 program at the SFHA should also be encouraged to capture those subsidies in to make permanently affordable existing rent control housing that is ripe for Ellis and TIC conversion.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

The city owns housing units that are so poorly run they are not fit for dogs.. thats what you get with public housing NOT FIT FOR DOGS!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

if public housing was a right to all, regardless of income, the wealthy would have stake in making it good housing

this, just as Social Security and Medicare are supported by the wealthy because they have a personal stake in those universal programs

Posted by blkihjoki on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 4:09 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

If we don't want expensive housing in SF for anyone who can pay for it, then we must want free housing for anyone who wants it. That makes perfect sense as a strawman.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

the words '"free housing" have not been uttered in this discussion even once

no one has promoted that

and as marcos notes

you already know that

Posted by snbdvj on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

So if that is true, then not only should tenants pay nothing, but landlords should pay their tenants a fine for trying to steal from them.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

Racer X said that -property- is theft. (A fundamental principle of anarchism, that every anarchist knows and references.)

And I said that forcing a person to pay you a -profit- to live on land you own is stealing.

That of course does not mean that a person should pay nothing.

Tenants should pay what it costs to upkeep the property plus a living wage to the workers who take care of the property. They should not pay some rich twit who sits on his ass all day collecting profit and doing nothing -extra- money just because he owns the property.

Can you explain to everyone how all that means 'free'?

Perhaps the reason you freak out so much about concepts like this, is that you are extremely paranoid and that every time someone says that the people should have a better deal, in your warped paranoid mind it means 'free'.

Take some herbs or medication for that paranoia and then maybe we can have a rational conversation.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:13 am
Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:32 am

wildly throws a mini skaebohl that misses all the holes (he needs to look up the history of anarchism)

Posted by clkjhdf on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:45 am
Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

Paying distorted market rate rents makes it insanely expensive.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

It is governments that pass laws that distort natural pricing.

Posted by anon on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:21 pm

All sorts of externalities distort markets, that is an article of faith in theoclassical economics. You just oppose the governmental interventions that distort and have no problem when the distortions come from the elites no longer restrained by the gutted regulatory state.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

Just say "free market" and by definition you are right.

And on the eight day, anon spoke. Praise anon. Get me to the church on time.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:33 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

And the default is good enough for you?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

in the Mission District look awfully nice. I don't know if the residents are allowed to have dogs, however.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

Another great example of socialized housing.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

What's your problem, huh?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

Why are you waiting?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

Public housing in Aspen?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:54 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 8:55 am

qualifications. I live a block from one of them and walk by daily. I even vote there for the little impact that has.

Have you ever even seen those developments or are you just trolling from parts unknown unburdened from the responsibility of thinking for yourself as you recite propaganda?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

They're not allowed dogs or cats or parrots.

Fish or canaries are OK.

My friend has lived at VG since it reopened and she loves it, except for the part about no dogs.

I remember VG in the '70's and '80's.

The current iteration is a massive improvement.

Posted by pete moss on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

Except that the 15th Street side looks like an artist's rendering of an artist's rendering. Agreed on the safety when compared to the days when VG was the heart of Crack Valley.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

If housing were not a business there would be NO housing you ignorant fool. Like Cuba NO new housing for the last 50 years. And the old housing they have was ONLY built for PROFIT!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

cite your source for this Cuba claim

Posted by nflkjud on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

they need to weigh the costs and the benefits.

If a person buys a property and doesn't weigh these costs ahead of time they have no one to blame for their failure to account for the market.

Posted by Matlock on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

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