Hundreds attend hearing to call for action on evictions

|
(246)
Hene Kelly of Senior and Disability Action leads supporters in a chant calling for an end to evictions.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

Tenants, organizers and residents impacted by Ellis Act evictions packed the Board of Supervisors Chambers at San Francisco City Hall today, Thu/14, for a hearing called by Sup. David Campos on eviction and displacement in San Francisco.

“It seems to me that we have a tale of two cities,” Campos said at the outset of the hearing, which was held by the Board of Supervisors Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee. “The vast majority of individuals are struggling to stay in San Francisco. We must act urgently to address this crisis, which I believe is a crisis.” He added, "We are fighting, I think, for the soul of San Francisco."

Tony Robles of Senior and Disability Action, who showed up at the hearing wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with pobre (the Spanish word for “poor”) printed across the front, expressed his frustration with the surge of evictions taking place in the booming economic climate. “We have been overlooked – the workers, communities of color … it’s almost as if we are an afterthought,” he said.

Fred Brousseau of the San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst’s office delivered a report on his recent analysis of eviction and displacement trends across the city.

Overall evictions in San Francisco rose from 1,242 in 2010 to 1,716 in 2013, reflecting an increase of 38.2 percent, according to San Francisco Rent Board Data highlighted in Brousseau’s report. 

Ellis Act evictions in particular increased by 169.8 percent in that same time frame, he said, with the most recent data showing a total of 162 Ellis Act evictions over the twelve months ending in September 2013. That number reflects units evicted, not how many tenants were impacted.

Ted Gullicksen of the San Francisco Tenants Union emphasized that tenant buyouts, frequently offered in lieu of an eviction, are also driving displacement even though these transactions aren’t reflected in city records.

“We need to get in control of these buyouts,” he said. “There are about three of them for every Ellis Act eviction. When you consider them in combination with Ellis, the numbers are very dramatic.”

Brousseau also showed a slide profiling the people who’ve been impacted by evictions citywide. Almost 42 percent had some form of disability, the data revealed, while 49 percent had incomes at or below the federal poverty level.

On the whole, Brousseau said, a total of nearly 43 percent of San Francisco households are “rent-burdened,” a term that officially means devoting more than 30 percent of household income to monthly rental payments.

Throughout the afternoon, tenants shared their stories and fears about getting frozen out of San Francisco by eviction. “I’m looking at shopping carts, and I’m terrified,” one woman told supervisors during public comment. “You have to do something. It might not be enough for me right now, but you can’t do this to any more people.”

Hene Kelly noted that elderly tenants are being disproportionately impacted by Ellis Act evictions. “They don’t have the reserves, they don’t have the jobs, and they don’t have the money to be able to move if they are evicted,” she said. Referencing landlords and speculators who are driving displacement, she added, “It makes me think of cabaret. Money, money, money, money, money makes the world go round.”

Campos noted that he is working with Assembly Member Tom Ammiano on a proposal to grant San Francisco the authority to place a moratorium on Ellis Act evictions.

He’s also working toward legislation that would create a mechanism at the San Francisco Rent Board allowing tenants to register complaints of harassment or other forms of pressure from landlords seeking to drive them out.

His proposal also envisions doubling the amount of relocation assistance that landlords would have to provide to tenants, in the case of no-fault evictions. He also mentioned the possibility of regulating buyouts, by requiring landlords to record these transactions with the rent board, and possibly prohibiting property owners from charging market-rate rent directly after completing a tenant buyout.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Lee recently announced that he is working with Sen. Mark Leno on legislation that is meant to reduce Ellis Act evictions. That proposal would require additional permits or hearings before an Ellis Act eviction could go forward, and place more stringent regulations on the sale and resale of properties where tenants have been evicted under the state law.

Just a couple weeks ago, a coalition of housing advocates proposed a sweeping package to turn the tide on evictions.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that housing advocates are gaining momentum as the spike in tenant ousters continues in pricey San Francisco, where rents are the highest in the nation.

"We’ve never been late on our rent," noted Beverly Upton, executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, who is battling an Ellis Act eviction. "We’ve paid for every improvement ever done in 25 years. And now we have to leave." She appealed for legislators to take action for the sake of the city's future, asking, "Once the advocates and the organizers and the people who care are gone, who will be left in our city?"

Comments

also still feeling the effects of my most recent 48 hour crack binge. Blame my poor grammar and inability to write a single articulate sentence on that.

Power to the people!

Posted by hgd on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

one trick goebbly pony

has got no back

Posted by jhdkihfg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

marking the close of today's skeibahl play....

Posted by jhdk on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

Set a price ceiling and some sellers won't sell at that price. Shocking!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

so that worthless compressed coal gravel will cost the most!

to duped humans and hobbits

Posted by hjlgdkfijg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Hobbits took them. I am desolate.

Posted by hjlgdkfijg- Smaug on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

which is why you've got no balls

to be a real and honorable

man

your future

is that of a selfish whinging gelded donkey

braying at at the poor as if they are your enemies

when your only true enemy

is your own black shriveled heart

Posted by jhdkihf on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

tenant who will hoard the unit for 50 years.

If rent control were abolished tomorrow, all those alleged 30,000 units would be back on stream.

Otherwise it makes more sense to leave them "vacant" which really means having family living there, doing the AirBnB thing, corporate short-term lets, or remodelling and selling as TIC's.

Property owners will always seek out the highest return. Unless of course you want to repeal human nature.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

I already explained the economics above. A grade school child could understand them.

And how many landlords own buildings for 50 years, rather than flipping them every few years when the time is right?

Quarterly profits are what this is all about.

Speculating by holding rent controlled units vacant is only worth it during a price boom.

So, now that we have another boom happening, landlords are indeed holding rent controlled units off the market.

(But if they do it too long, they will lose out when the Tech Bubble 2.0 collapses.)

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

find a LL and talk to him, to better understand their motives.

I know of a number of units heal off the market and there are as many reasons for that as there are units, because each LL's situation is different.

One common situation is where you get a couple of vacant units in a building, and do not re-rent them, while leaving the occupied units as is. You hope that the remaining tenants will move out, whereupon you can sell the building vacant, which is much more desirable. Or you switch the vacant units to short-term lets and vacation/corporate temporary lets - more money and less risk.

You cannot credibly claim that doesn't happen and instead that every vacant unit is a huge right-wing conspiracy. There might be a few of those but there is certainly no giant LL conspiracy. I am a LL and know lots of others, and I have never heard that suggested.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

theory. He's also said he does not take the word of any landlord. So there is nothing that could, in Eric's closed mind, convince him he is wrong. He believes it simply because he wants to, because it suits him.

Therefore you are wasting your time every bit as much as he is. He's wrong, of course, but will never admit it.

PS: Most of the units I've seen that claim to be vacant have someone living there. Just not a long-term tenant under rent control.

Posted by anon on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

" find a LL and talk to him, to better understand their motives."

...

"because each LL's situation is different."

Posted by marcos on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

talking to tenants and never speak to landlords, then you will inevitably end up with a very distorted and one-sided view.#

He was claiming to explain the motivations of landlords without ever having been one or even spoken to one, except perhaps when he hands over his rent check every month - something he is very likely to be doing when he is age 70.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

And other than the ones who are simply renting out parts of their home to help pay the mortgage, I find them to be a bunch of selfish, short sighted, fools.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

convenient, self-serving categorization?

I hope you come up with better arguments than this on your green power pilgramage. Then again, perhaps the fact that you cannot is why we still don't have your precious ShellPower,

You cannot possibly after spoken to representative landlords if you claim that we are all deliberately withholding units in a massive bull market for rents. It's ludicrous.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 5:02 pm

I do not support the Shell contract for CleanPowerSF. The City can instead simply buy power for itself.

On landlords, I've been to many hearings on housing and development and spoken with landlords and developer representatives (and watched them speak) at those hearings. I know almost none of them by name (besides the ever present Tim Colen) and even if I did know them, I wouldn't call them out by name on this blog.

Also, there are some smaller landlords who I know well from the Green Party who are homeowners and have expressed to me their frustrations with current law.

As a result of all of these interactions, I believe we should codify separate laws for small owners of units in a home in which they live themselves (and in which they are not seeking profits from rents), and then set some -very- strict laws and vacancy rent controls for the large owners and speculators who control multi-unit buildings for profit.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 1:11 am

RC but that changed 15 years after RC was introduced. Presumably you prefer the old system.

You may have spoken to many LL's but you come from a specific viewpoint and therefore see and hear what you want to see and hear.

I know many LL's to and I consider them to be fine, decent, ethical people. See? We all see what we want to see?

The fact that you reject the idea that anyone should make a profit from housing shows how hopelessly out of touch you are with those who invest in RE to provide homes for others.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 7:54 am

There should be rent control on smaller buildings, and its terms should be more flexible -only- in the case of -homes- in which the homeowner is renting one or two units at most to help pay the mortgage on the building at -no- profit to the owner; this -only- with owners who do not own any other rental properties.

As to my personal objectivity, it is incredibly arrogant for you to assume I have a biased point of view when you don't even know me and have no idea what my level of objectivity is.

Finally in regard to your claim that it is 'out of touch' to oppose profit on rental property - the person who is out of touch is any selfish oaf who believes that we should continue the blatantly unethical and unfair status quo of property making on rent, when it is clearly bad for the entire community; all while outrageously convincing himself of the ridiculous fiction that he is providing a valuable service to the public (so that he can paper over his own guilt for stealing from others).

Deep in their own hearts, it is pretty certain that most landlords understand full well that they are parasites on society, getting an undeserved free lunch from everyone else.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 10:39 am
Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 10:42 am

I do not regard myself as a "parasite" in any way. Of course i make a profit - if I did not I would have to exit the business via Ellis/ TIC and that would be less supply of rentals and higher rents.

The simple fact is that the government and non-profit sector can only supply a small proportion of the rental housing stock, and the rest must come from the private sector, which will only happen if there is a return comparable to that available from other investments for the same risk level.

I call you biased because, even on the left, there aren't too many people arguing that housing should be provided only on a non-profit basis, nor that landlording is somehow inherently evil and greedy. You may be sincere in your beliefs but you cannot credibly deny that your views are extreme by US standards, and therefore appear biased to most people even if not by you.

Your time would be better figuring how to make rent control fairer because, at present, it involves a massive variety of outcomes based on seemingly random factors like the length of the tenancy and the age of the building. A monkey could do a better job of designing rent control than that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 10:58 am

You are in denial.

And we did design rent control to be more fair and comprehensive.

Then people like you lobbied to weaken those protections, and that resulted in the ridiculous patchwork of laws that barely amounts to a fig leaf of rent control in San Francisco.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:25 am

The only limits placed on rent control have been at the State level, which much more moderate and balanced politicians are a much more accurate of the majority of people in this State.

There is nothing "fair" about a system of rent control that has two tenants living in identical units paying a rent that is different by thousands of dollars a month

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:36 am

The rate of increase would have to be very high to make it worthwhile.

Suppose you have an apartment that you can get $2000 for. You'd make $24000 over the course of one year. To make holding off for four months worth it, you'd have to believe that you'd be able to rent it for more than $3000 in for months, just to break even. That's a huge gamble. I mean, a 20% annual increase is considered massive, but this would be a 240% annualized increase.

Of course, if it's rent-controlled, it's a different story, because what you get may be effectively permanent, so holding out a few months for even a $200 increase may be worth it, depending on how long you think tenants want to stay.

Posted by Alai on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 3:57 am

work best in a place like NYC where there are a relatively small number of huge corporate landlords. They could indeed create an artificial shortage, and may do so from time to time as AFAIK, it's not illegal.

But SF has few large corporate landlords, but instead has thousands of small landlords. If I keep a unit vacant in a 4-unit building, it's not going to benefit me at all, and won't make much difference unless hundreds of us do that in sync.

And if that were going on, I'd have been approached at SFAA meetings or elsewhere.

Moreover, I would NEVER leave a unit vacant if it wasn't subject to rent control because I know I can always get that back and/or raise the rent. Deliberate under-use only adds up for RC units

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 7:16 am

...in San Francisco.

The Lembi empire was one such until the City (and the economic crash) went after them and did them in. But those large buildings are still owned by someone.

All it takes to create an artificial supply shortage is for the biggest of those large building owners to hold a percentage of their units off the market. By now, they don't even have to communicate with eachother about it; they know how to game the table in silent concert.

And yes, colluding (even if it is done without overt communication about it) to purposely hold units off the market, in order to create a price rise, is definitely illegal. It's price fixing.

It would be difficult to prove however, so we should just use a structural mechanism to solve the problem, such as high penalty fees for holding units vacant.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 10:29 am

"There Are Lots Of Landlords Holding Large Multi-unit Buildings
...in San Francisco."

…and yet, in other cities, landlords don't hold rental units off the market.

Why is that?

What is different about San Francisco, versus, say San Jose - another high-rent area where mysteriously landlords don't hold rental units off the market.

What's the difference?

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 10:51 am

..is that San Francisco is a jam packed 7x7 mile city where there is nowhere to go for housing alternatives (other than to another city).

So artificially shorting supply here works to jack up prices.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

much of it has far cheaper housing.

Again, I invite you to cite one substantial piece of evidence to substantiate your conspiracy theory.

Just one. Shouldn't be hard if it's true.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

...proving such a conspiracy would be extremely difficult.

Here's the rub...

It doesn't matter whether or not there is a conspiracy. Landlords should not be able to hold that many units off the market no matter why they are doing so.

Hence we should simply levy high penalties for doing so, and put a stop to it.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 1:16 am

he says it is "extremely difficult" to present evidence, and that it doesn't matter anyway. QED.

Now, it may annoy you if a LL chooses to not rent out a unit, but that is the fundamental right of a property owner. In fact, it was acts by the city of Santa Monica to try and force a LL to rent out units when they did not want to, that eld to the Ellis Act.

That's the problem when people like you are given any power. There is a common-sense backlash and new laws are passed to stop you in your tracks. The law of unintended consequences always kicks in when when-meaning but clueless people try and over-regulate land use.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 7:51 am

Even though there appears to be a conspiracy, it is pointless to try to prove it, when the evidence of such a conspiracy is so hard to accumulate by the very hidden and loose knit nature of the crime. Some crimes are simply difficult to prove.

But the fact that a crime cannot be proven due to the fact that it is inherently difficult to gather evidence on it, does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that no crime has been committed.

If someone is murdered with a gun, and the perpetrator does such a good job of hiding his own role in the killing and the gun, that he is never caught, that clearly does not mean that no murder has taken place.

(I find that most of you arguing the landlord side of this debate have a very basic lack of understanding of how to make a logical argument.)

Finally, I am not 'annoyed' by anything. I am arguing for held vacancies to be made illegal in order to solve a problem.

You are the one who appears to be in constant annoyance as is evinced by your exaggerated clownish crowing every time you falsely imagine you have won some point in the debate, and your repeated insufferable, red faced, ridicule of others.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:01 am

that you cannot prove something doesn't mean that it isn't true. That's valid in only the most narrow, technical case.

I could say that about the earth being flat. Just because I cannot prove it doesn't mean that it isn't true, right?

No, Eric, if you are going to accuse people of a conspiracy, then you'd better damn well have some evidence. And of course you admit that you do not.

Whether it should be illegal to keep a unit vacant is a matter of opinion, an hardly anyone shares your view that it should be. Certainly none of the 2/3 of Americans who own their own home.

And, as noted before, it was exactly that kind of move that gave us the Ellis Act. You really learned nothing from that, did you?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:19 am

...why do you engage in debate?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:33 am

your thought was basically: "Just because I cannot produce a shred of evidence for X, I still believe in X anyway, despite all the evident facts pointing to X being false".

Again, one more time, substantiate your wild claim. Examples. Evidence. Proof. Data. Statistics.

I think you have nothing.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:38 am

Sort of like speaking to a brick wall...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Notice how Eric turns personal when his allegation was proved unfounded.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

this guy's got last word-itis sometin' fierce

of course the last word thing means that since i just jumped in at the very end of this debate and made the very last comment, i therefore have totally refuted, decimated and dominated, everything that both of you have said

I HAAAAVVVVVEEE THE POOOWWWWEERRR!

Posted by gljhdhg on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

independently decide to hold units off the market. And it's certainly not illegal to keep all my units vacant for years if that is what I want to do with them. I'm not familiar with your Lembi example but the city could not "go after them" solely for keeping units vacant.

A fee for keeping units vacant would be illegal, however. The Ellis Act is clear proof that a landlord may decline to rent out any units if he wishes not to.

Of course, there is little incentive to keep units vacant right now, since LL's can get 3K for a 1-BR in any half decent part of town, and 4K for a 2-BR. This is one of those times that, as a LL, you wait for, and that make the investment and the hassle worthwhile.

I'm still not convinced by your 30K number, especially when you carve out the units that are rented out temporarily so there is no record, or that are pending sale or remodeling. But if you do claim to have access to such figures, perhaps could you say how many of those 30K are rent-controlled versus non-rent controlled. I suspect they are nearly all the former.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 10:54 am

Then you don't know remotely enough about San Francisco tenants and landlords to be pontificating in this discussion.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

No link, no cite, no hope.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

Do a google search on 'Lembi' 'san francisco' 'landlords'.

And I'm not particularly interested in wasting my time seeking to prove this case with links, posted for scheming deceptive trolls like yourself who have no intention of acknowledging any proof I post as legitimate anyway (even if it is as solid as gold).

The people who I am actually seeking to reach through this dialog, know full well who the Lembis are, and that there are indeed very large apartment building owners in the city.

The only reason I engage with trolls like yourself is that you provide me with a convenient platform on which to elucidate ideas for other progressives.

You are simply a neutral tool in that far more important exchange.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 1:28 am

buildings currently being kept empty deliberately as part of a LL conspiracy, then it should be no problem citing some addresses. And yet you cannot.

Oh, and thanks to Yo, i read about the Lembi's, and that was a debt problem and not a conspiracy with other LL's to keep buildings vacant. You bluffed and you lost.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 7:48 am

When did I claim that entire buildings were being held vacant?

That would clearly be far too obvious. Any landlord owning large numbers of units who wants to hold some of them vacant in order to manipulate the market, would of course not be foolish enough to be so obvious as to hold an entire building vacant.

That would be stupid.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:06 am

part of a vast LL conspiracy? You have offered absolutely nothing to support that allegation other than your wild speculations.

You thought you'd get away with a wild throwaway accusation and you got called out on it. And now, despite furious backpeddling, you really do not know how to let it go.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:21 am

In fact I never made a big show of attempting to prove it with evidence.

This is because proving it is not nearly as important as exploring the concept, its obvious logic, its implications, and what to do about vacancies.

I am not concerned with proving it, I am simply putting the concept out there for my fellow progressives to consider it, as well as to promote solving the problem by heavily penalizing vacancies.

You appear to be only one here freaking out about whether there is proof of my postulate.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:43 am

theoretical concept rather than making a real-word statement, we can ignore the red herring of a conspiracy and just accept at face value that there are some LL's who do indeed keep units vacant (which I never denied - only the conspiracy part).

As noted, the fact that SF has thousands of small LL's rather than a handful of big LL's that control everything, means that the reasons why each LL leaves units vacant will vary enormously. If you polled them, you would find the reason is rent control rather than fabricating a false shortage. I'd bet my last dollar that few LL's keep market-rate units off the market.

Some small LL's fear being stuck with a tenant for decades, and may never be able to get their unit back. Others resent the inability to raise rents. Still others have plans to occupy, sell or remodel the unit. Maybe they plan to house an ageing parent there. While others again go the AirBnB route, or otherwise rent only temporarily.

To understand the issue, you'd really need to understand why all those reasons exist, and then work together with owners to mitigate the problem for mutual benefit. A one-sided "just pass more stringent laws" approach won't work, as Santa Monica found out to the cost of tenants everywhere in CA.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

And don't care whether you believe it is true or not.

I do care whether my fellow -progressives- pick up on the concept.

And as I already explained, it is obvious that there are enough large scale owners in the city, to give those owners enough leverage to game the market. It doesn't matter how many small owners there are, as long as there are enough large ones to achieve that leverage.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

The important thing is that very few others agree and there is zero evidence to support it.

And maybe if you talked to a broader group than just "your fellow progressives" you'd actually achieve something rather than merely appearing as an ineffective extremist.

Heck, even Marcos understands that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

...of the simple act of looking up something on the internet by yourself.

As I said above, I am not engaging in this debate to communicate with you yourself.

That is clearly pointless.

So if you want proof of the existence of the Lembi family and its history, look it up yourself.

That is not 'ducking', it is simply telling you that I am not going to waste my time spoon feeding you like a baby, with facts that you can easily look up yourself.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:12 am

That was an example of financial risk taking going wrong in a sudden down market. It certainly isn't evidence that landlords are currently keeping units vacant as part of a vast conspiracy to fix prices.

Your allegation has been shot down in flames and you know it. You should stick to your Shell energy thing. At least you have some facts there and don't have to invent fanciful conspiracy theories.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:23 am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Related articles

  • Can we rediscover radical action on this marriage equality anniversary?

  • Manhattanization revisited

    Is more, taller, and denser housing the answer to San Francisco's affordability crisis?

  • Year of Evictions

    As tech heated up the market in 2013, affordable housing became the dominant political issue

  • Also from this author

  • Police provide explanation of Bernal Heights Park shooting at emotional town hall meeting

  • San Francisco's untouchables

    Is San Francisco trying to help the homeless -- or drive them away?

  • Draining the tank

    Students push UC system to divest from fossil fuels, joining an international movement gathering soon in San Francisco