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.











themselves, and so know nothing about it.

It shows.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:00 am

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

Actually, yes. Why would you buy an income property that doesn't bring in enough income to cover what you paid, never mind make a profit.

Your problem is that you're seeing homes where actual people live as investments first and homes last.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

Is it not possible for the City to enact some kind of law that restricts purchasing property solely for the purchase of "flipping it" to make an enormous profit? Flipping real estate seems to me to be one of the most immoral practices going these days -- following on the heals of the bankers who bundled bad mortgages and sold them as good. It's a contemptable practice that does absolutely nothing to create a healthy, prosperous, inclusive and dynamic community. At the rate the flippers are going, only one percenters will be able to live in SF and the Bay Area.

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

Bay Area land is expensive since there are tens of thousands of jobs in the area that pay far in excess of six figures. SF land is even more expensive because of its beauty, cachet and the massive transportation investments that make it relatively easy to get around without a car.

Money wins in this world. If you've got money you can live in the Bay Area. If not, you're living in Stockton, Tracy or Fairfield.

I'm surprised you didn't learn this from your parents or in high school.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

...economic money supply is now underpinned at its foundation by such real estate flipping. Actual finance capital in general, dwarfs mere real estate finance by itself, but the real estate factor is like a cornerstone to the economy. (This is why we just had a global economic crash triggered by an overvalued real estate and mortgage financing bubble.)

So yes, it should be illegal to flip buildings for profit.

And winning the campaign to make it so, is going to be a tough fight. (But we -can- win.)

However, one thing we can also do right now, is ramp up taking over buildings as nonprofits and co-ops one at a time. This has been going on for decades and we should increase it in volume and speed.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

The tax rate on short-term capital gains is higher than on long-term capital gains. While there is no cGt on owner-occupied homes up to 500K.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:27 am

and more painful, to end flipping

Posted by blkihjokih on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

constitutional right to be able to buy and sell real estate. Nothing in the way titles are transferred is really within the city's (or rather, the county's) control.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 4:15 pm
Posted by snbdvjb on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

100% correct, else you would not protesteth so much.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

Transfer taxes are under local control to some extent.

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

a transfer tax, what it absolutely cannot do is set differential tax rates based on political criteria.

Posted by anon on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

Keep dreaming. Nothing that you think we need will ever be done.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 8:39 am

that. But they have to keep believing or else accept that their entire belief system is 100% wrong and unrealistic. And that would hurt too badly.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 8:58 am

Flipping is not immoral… you just say thet cuz you are a loser who can't compete at the game…Hell they even flip houses on TV.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

So because it's done on TV that makes it all right.

Turning someone, especially someone marginalized, from their home is immoral.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

Rent control destroys cities, I like what San Francisco is becoming very much

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

Go to Detroit, you can pay the lowest possible rent there.. it is your paradise.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

How old is your building if the mortgage was paid off 100 years ago...?
Sounds a bit hyperbolic

Posted by Bob on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

building will change hands every few years. each new owner has a higher mortgage and a rebased property tax.

Either that has to be reflected in higher rents or the owner will have to exit a loss-making business.

Eric doesn't understand this issue at all.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

Housing should not be allowed to change hands like that. It should be illegal.

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

That's hilarious.

And you want me to trust your costings for clean energy?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

It is a really old building.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

Maybe if it is the same owner, but then he's be damn old.

chances are it has been sold over many times, and each time it sells, there is a new higher mortgage.

Do you understand that? It's very basic.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

And I repeat, for what must be the third time now in this conversation, that buildings changing owners repeatedly like that is totally destructive to the city and its tenants, and should not be permitted. It should be illegal to flip housing for profit.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

Surely you get that?

Revoking all property rights is totally out of the question, and no politician is seriously suggesting that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

My building has changed owners at least five times in the last two decades. That should be illegal.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

So your idea is that businesses cannot be sold?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

And you are perfectly aware of that fact.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

That is how the city defines it, and how the IRS view it.

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


Benjamin Franklin to Robert Morris
25 Dec. 1783, Writings 9:138

"The Remissness of our People in Paying Taxes is highly blameable; the Unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see, in some Resolutions of Town Meetings, a Remonstrance against giving Congress a Power to take, as they call it, the People's Money out of their Pockets, tho' only to pay the Interest and Principal of Debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the Point. Money, justly due from the People, is their Creditors' Money, and no longer the Money of the People, who, if they withold it, should be compell'd to pay by some Law.

All Property, indeed, except the Savage's temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it."

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 16, Document 12
The University of Chicago Press

The Writings of Benjamin Franklin. Edited by Albert Henry Smyth. 10 vols. New York: Macmillan Co., 1905--7.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 12:30 am

"There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for studios in that building to cost $1800 a month."

The funny thing is that Eric thinks he should be able to rent very cheaply, but he also thinks that he has a perpetual right to live in San Francisco.

If studios in San Francisco cost $500 a month, millions of people would want to live in San Francisco, and could afford it.

Eric's belief is apparently that since he lives in San Francisco now, he gets to live in San Francisco forever, even with cheap rents.

You live in El Cerrito, and want to live in San Francisco and can afford $500 a month? Tough - you get to live in El Cerrito forever. Luck of the draw, man.

Under Eric's proposed system, it would be much fairer to have a five year limit on living in San Francisco, so as many people as possible could have the experience of living in San Francisco. Let Eric live in El Cerrito for a while.

It's a matter of equity.

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

Which should be the objective

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

Let's pass the Housing Security Act!

I'm in!

Posted by +ULFBERH+T on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

If housing were socialized everywhere, and cheap everywhere, most people would want to live in San Francisco, and not El Cerrito.

Why should you get priority over someone who lives in El Cerrito for cheap housing in San Francisco, if you both can afford it?

Eric thinks that rabid bear landlords should have no property rights - but, of, course, he thinks he has an inviolable right to live in San Francisco for as long as he wants.

Losers in El Cerrito have to stay in El Cerrito - why should they have any right to live in San Francisco?

After all, Eric is already there, and you have no right to displace him.

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

If all housing in the country were socialized at once, we would return to the status quo that exists right now, of people's desire and ability to move to San Francisco. That would essentially remain unchanged.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

"If all housing in the country were socialized at once, we would return to the status quo that exists right now, of people's desire and ability to move to San Francisco. That would essentially remain unchanged."

So, you are going to reduce everyone's salaries by the same amount of the rents? Otherwise, housing in San Francisco is going to get a lot more affordable - not just for you, but for everyone else as well.

At $500/apartment millions of people would want to and could afford to live in San Francisco. You think that dropping rents to $200 in El Cerrito would stop people from trying to live in San Francisco at $500?

So, you would have far more people trying to live in San Francisco than there was available housing. Having a lottery to determine who could live in SF would be a lot fairer than simply giving perpetual housing rights to those lucky enough to live there already.

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

...dramatically reduce rents in San Francisco.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

Oh, socializing housing in San Francisco might reduce the rents.

You might not like the other consequences, though...

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

It would be far fairer if we had a Commisar of Housing who assigned housing to each person based on their political purity and adherence to party doctrine. This has worked so well in Beijing and everywhere else it has been tried.

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

If housing prices were not set by the market in San Francisco, desirable units would be allocated by bribes and connections. How can you leftists be so naive?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 8:44 am

shot at a nice home than the current process, which is too efficient, liquid and transparent for such manipulation to be possible.

They want theirs but lack the means, ability and skills to have it, so they want to mess with the system.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 9:02 am

Death Panels.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:15 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 6:19 am

Greetings Comrade!

The People's Housing Authority welcomes you to our home. Due to problems of homelessness and a lack of housing for the working class, you have been assigned Ted as your new roommate. You have thirty days to clear space for your new roommate to move in. Maintenance requests will be done by the Authority - you'll now receive the same prompt, reliable service as those previously in public housing (all housing is now public!). Of course, with no new property tax revenue, no new units will be constructed (hey, we're not going to tax ourselves), so prepare to have bunk beds installed in your unit to house more fellow citizens.

Over the course of the next year, we will be reviewing your situation to determine if you are eligible to remain in the dwelling you now occupy. You may be reassigned to a new unit in a new neighborhood by order of the Authority. If it is determined that neither your nor your spouse/significant other are ineligible to remain in the city (neither of you works in the city for example), your permit to dwell in San Francisco will be revoked and you will be required to leave.

You may contest these actions, but the new tenants will of course have the right to file an appeal. This of course may take several months. The people will decide what is best.

Good thing we stuck it to those capitalist pig-dogs, right!

Have an excellent day.

Posted by robco on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

It's a truly terrifying prospect.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

There's a reason some people have nothing better to do than post on websites all day. No one hires them since they have no intelligence or common sense, only emotional reaction to external stimuli.

I don't know many progressives who listen to Eric about many subjects, so landlords shouldn't be too elated when they read his often clueless comments and think he somehow represents anything important. There are dozens of people who are much more thoughtful and knowledgeable about subjects such as state and local housing laws that landlords should be concerned about, who unfortunately don't post much on websites like this dominated by posting manics like Eric, lilli and racer.

Like the landlords who post here, Eric and his buddy marcos are purely entertainment value. The fact that Eric thinks the landlord posts are actually serious and thoughtful rather than merely teasing him just makes his reactions that more laughable.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

...put forward more radical ideas that others might not be thinking of and/or might gain from. (The bogus reactionary posts provide easy launch points from which to unfold concepts.)

And, ask anyone who was involved in the CEQA fight over the past year if the progressive community listens to me.

They'll say yes...

And that's just one of the campaigns I work on. There are many others.

As to why I've been posting a lot over the last week or so. I'm on a semi-vacation and have time to do so.

Any other attacks you'd like to fling?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

Eric, pick a subject and stick with it. All important issues facing humanity are very complicated. We don't live long enough to have much impact on any one issue, much less a handful. You had a decent reputation in the green power field (until Paul Kangas come on here and had some thoughtful comments and articulated them better), so maybe stick with that. But throwing yourself into multiple, complicated issues just makes you look like a buffoon, which means you'll never accomplish anything since no one will take you seriously even on subjects that you might have some expertise. Reputation is impossible to rehabilitate once its gone.

Some of the people in this coalition like Gen and Ted have been working in the tenant housing law area for decades. They've written books and helped author countless pieces of legislation working closely with supervisors and city attorneys. You could take a 2-year college level class taught by them and still only know a portion of what they know about state and local housing regulations. Let them lead on issues like this, along with other people who have been working on these issues for years. If you want to volunteer to help pass out literature or man an information table or whatever, fine, but to post 30 times on a subject you're not that well-versed in just makes all progressives look bad and makes you look like a joke.

You seem to have forgotten the saying, "Better to not say anything than to open your mouth (an obsessive number of times!) and let the world know that you really don't know what you're talking about."

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

...as they launch attacks at another progressive.

Care to step forward and reveal yourself?

As to understanding housing issues. I have done deep study of economics and other key concepts my whole life largely from an anarchist and Marxist perspective. The organizers in San Francisco working on housing are for the most part not from that more radical perspective and pursue change on housing policy via a much more Liberal methodology.

It is no secret to anyone that the campaign for affordable housing in San Francisco is treading water at best. Perhaps what those organizers need is an outside perspective that is not so entwined in local minutia; so that they can get ideas for thinking outside the box.

Nobody in the movement has cornered the market on experience and wisdom, and we should all listen to eachother and learn together.

Not attack eachother.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

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