Hundreds attend hearing to call for action on evictions

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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

I am shriveled in the face of your genius logic trap.

Why ever did I think I could successfully debate such a powerful orator as yourself.

Got arrogance?

Did you actually read what I wrote about why I cited the Lembis?

Answer: Not really.

Time to cut back on the coffee ace.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:49 am

whether large LL's are gaming the system by keeping units vacant.

They did not and do not.

But now you've admitted that you were just speculating anyway, we can all move on.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

From a 2009 Wall Street Journal article:

"The family's debt woes stem from spending more than $1 billion between 2003 and 2007 on acquisitions, borrowing up to 95% of a building's purchase price. The plan was to buy buildings, induce tenant turnover through buyout offers and other means, renovate the properties and lease them out at market rates. But as loans came due, many couldn't be refinanced. "For all their savvy, they bought into the 'money is cheap and is going to be cheap forever' mentality," Mr. Singer says."

This doesn't prove or disprove Eric's theory. It is a fine example of landlord incompetence though.

Posted by Yo on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

He was trying to cite the Lembi's as an example of a LL conspiracy to keep units vacant to drive up rents.

But that is just an example of a RE company over-extending itself with debt, which of course was what the 2008 RE collapse was all about.

Eric needs to do better if he is to convince anyone a conspiracy exists. I see no evidence for that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 7:46 am

If you would actually read these threads before you respond to them, you would know that I was citing the Lembis simply as an example that there are landholders who own large numbers of very large buildings, and therefore own very large numbers of apartments.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:20 am

There's ParkMerced and Trinity Plaza, for instance.

But the point being made was that SF has a much higher percentage of small LL's as well, unlike somewhere like Manhattan.

And your Lembi example offers the reader nothing to support your wild, unsubstantiated allegation of a conspiracy among LL's to keep units vacant.

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

Is that there are -enough- large scale owners of such high volumes of units that those large scale owners can indeed game the pricing.

Let's just grant that whether they are actually doing so or not is speculation (this so that we can enable you to stop frothing at the mouth about it).

I believe that they are.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:54 am

in hopes that they can reverse the tide that is turning against them

but shambled webs don't resist tsunamis

Posted by lnbgldj on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

skee bahl is tricky when the balls must spin round tangled webs....

Posted by hjlgdkfij on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

is now closed for lunch time

thank you for playing!

and thanks especially to the goebbly (though somewhat lackluster) dark minion who helped so much to make it an exciting and quickly completed game!

his last ski ball spin was much better

hope to see more of such great throws in the future!

now all you humans, elves, hobbits and darkly minions, save those dimes and nickles for the next round of ski ball!

(and minions, please next time wipe off your coins before putting them in the ski ball table coin slots....)

Posted by jhdki on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

pretty much everything on this page below this post is a bunch of ridiculous pointless troll bickering

continue at your own risk

Posted by kkdfhjiu on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

the next page after this is complete troll crap as well

the last page of the thread is marginally readable

Posted by kkdfhji on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

Of course. Why would any property owner show up, when a mob like this clearly views taking the risk of providing housing is somehow evil.

The Ellis Act is clear enough - when a city gets too extreme with rent control, Ellis is the remedy allowing the landlord to have an escape clause. What's wrong with a balanced outcome like that? You don't like balance?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

and pitchforks to deal with your pathetic elite pompous ass

there are no scarlet pimpernels in real life to save you

Posted by lnbg on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:10 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 6:39 am
Posted by hjlgdkf on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

Lilli and Greg are in heaven with the latest news from Venezuela:

"Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has intensified his crackdown on private businesses by jailing more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen, the latest salvo in what he calls an “economic war” on alleged unfair pricing.

“I broke the spine of the economic war and the economic coup they were planning,” Mr Maduro said late on Thursday. “We have more than 100 of the bourgeoisie behind bars at the moment.”"

It's time to round up the landlords, Maduro-style!

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

No doubt Greg and Lilli are mutilating themselves out of self-pitying frustration that they were not born 100 years earlier in Tsarist Russian.

A progressive can dream, can't he?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

The only problem is that a few years after the Soviets shot landlords in the street, most of the old Party members were lined up against a wall and shot as well.

That's the problem with Revolution - you start by shooting Enemies of the People, and a few years later you discover that you have become an Enemy of the People yourself...

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

What happened was that the government was letting these businesses import goods at favorable exchange rates, and then the businesses turned around and sold them for markups of up to 1200%. It wasn't just imported electronics either. The list of goods they were gouging consumers on, included state-produced computers (yes, Venezuela does produce laptops), which the businesses presumably got for extremely favorable prices.

So the government did a little "consumer protection" operation that would make Elizabeth Warren blush. They brought in the National Guard, took over the stores, and forced them to sell the goods at a more reasonable profit. And in the process they arrested some of those responsible for gouging people.

I say more power to them!!! That's the way it's done when a government works for the people and not the corporations. Personally, I think they didn't go far enough. They said that the businesses will be returned to the control of the owners once the goods in question are sold. If you ask me, some nationalization may be in order. I'll explain why in a minute.

I can see the usual whiny, dusty talking points... the "free market" should decide the price of goods and not some bureaucrats... who decides a fair price? etc etc etc. You know what? Fuck the free market. 1200% markup is abuse. I wish we had that kind of consumer protection here.

And you know what else they do in Venezuela? They set fair prices for rents, based on the real value of the building. Trained community volunteers inspect buildings, and set rents based on the condition of the building, the landlord's costs, and other factors. The result is fairer rents for both landlords and tenants, not this wild west "whatever the market will bear" (read: whatever the fuck I want to charge) bullshit.

You want to know what democracy looks like? THAT is what democracy looks like!

Look, I'm no communist, but clearly these businesses have failed the consumers. When gouging gets to be that egregious, it's a clear example of a "market failure," and the government needs to step in on behalf of the consumer. The real problem is that the private sector still controls 70% of Venezuela's economy. I don't think we need 100% control by the public sector, but the balance is still clearly too skewed in one direction. If more of the means of production and distribution were publicly-owned and worker-owned, we may not need these kinds of actions.

BTW... more good news. I've been riveted to the King County elections site, as well as The Stranger (Seattle's version of the Guardian, but better) for the last 10 days. The latest news is that the $15/hour minimum wage is holding its lead (and will likely prevail), Seattle overwhelmingly passed district elections (but fell slightly short on public financing), and get ready for this... a 16-year incumbent was narrowly defeated by, get this, a Capital-S Socialist!!! And that's for an at-large seat!

Posted by Greg on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 11:32 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 7:06 am

Such a brilliant comeback. I've never heard that one before.

In any case, why would I want to leave when we have so much work to do here?

Posted by Greg on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 8:39 am

I thought you were headed to Aspen?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 9:24 am

If I'd go anywhere, it would be Amsterdam.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 9:37 am

Yes, but it is cold, windy and flat there.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 9:51 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:13 am

I am actually quite fond of the place, but it is cold and windy as hell.

https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/88450605.jpg?w=AABIG-yVtWGwtz4a6CPR-voZBm...

Posted by marcos on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:29 am

Since he's busy failing at all his business ventures here in the Bay Area.

Aspen's for winners, not losers.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 9:44 am

Even by your own flawed metric. I just don't make a habit of gloating about it, because it's irrelevant. But clearly you hate successful people. You want to punish successful people by making them pay more in rent just because they're successful. It's none of your business how much a given renter makes. Hell, I could care less even if a renter has a real estate empire of their own. They still deserve a fair price for rent, and protections from eviction, even if they're successful. Why do you hate successful people?

Posted by Greg on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:06 am

I admit I cannot afford Aspen.

But my point is that I do not expect anyone else to take a paycut so that I can afford Aspen. Rather, I live somewhere else, maybe Carbondale if I have to be around there, or somewhere on I-70.

Likewise, those who are priced out of SF can live in Oakland.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:16 am

I just disagree. It's a tired trope. Now tell me why you hate successful people so much that you want to punish them by making them pay more rent?

Posted by Greg on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:22 am

But suggesting that a millionaire renter should get the same is too much. Even as a progressive, I cannot understand why you would support that, unless you just hate landlords so much that you want to spite them whenever you can.

And again, why is moving to Oakland such a big deal? It's 10 minutes away

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:32 am

"I can understand some type of housing assistance to the poor
But suggesting that a millionaire renter should get the same is too much."

Because as I explained, rent control isn't just meant to be assistance for the poor. It's meant to stabilize communities and ensure fair prices for everyone. Being a millionaire doesn't mean you lose your rights to fair housing prices.

" unless you just hate landlords so much that you want to spite them whenever you can."

I don't hate landlords. I just don't hate successful tenants as you apparently do.

"And again, why is moving to Oakland such a big deal? It's 10 minutes away "

Because Oakland isn't my home. San Francisco is my home. You don't get to decide where I call home.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

You want to decide where you call home, huh? Why not let the Government decide in the interest of "stabilizing" the community like you want to do for the amount of rents to be charged? Should not they know better where you should call home? In Cuba that socialist paradise with NO private property, people are BANNED from moving to Havana….Too many people want to crowd in that city with no new housing for 50 years … so the government decides who gets to call Havana "home".

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 6:08 am

Yeah Greg, Maybe you can't call San Francisco home. Maybe you will be assigned to Stockton….

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 6:38 am

wants to be here can be here. I guess the population would be five million without high prices, but then of course Greg also doesn't want to build more housing. And he doesn't want to live 10 minutes away.

He wants a lot, as long as somebody else is paying.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:42 am

First of all, you know very little about Cuba if you think there's no private property and no new housing being built. If you want to educate yourself, you may want to read this:
http://urbanhabitat.org/19-1/hamberg

Not that I suggest copying everything they do. As difficult as it is for simple minds to grasp, we just don't live in a binary world.

I would decide democratically how much housing to build in a given community, based on people's needs and community preservation. In some communities, it's probably impossible to meet both. If that's the case, there will be a shortage. The shortage should be dealt with fairly. Perhaps there should be price controls, waiting lists, lotteries. Not ideal, that's true. Some people won't get to live where they want to live. But that's also the case with capitalism. Some people won't get to live where they want to live. Except under capitalism, it gets determined by how much money you have, and the community gets destroyed in the process. But developers make out like bandits.

At least my way, the community gets preserved, and everybody has an equal shot.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:17 am

"community" should look like?

Where planned communities have been tried, they invariably become an oligarchy of bureaucrats who try and micromanage everything. You can see some aspects of that in Co-Op boards in NYC buildings, or in much of Orange County, with their thousands of bye-laws.

Or, as you appear to acknowledge, there are waiting lists, just as there are in nations where lealthcare is free, and demand grows indefinitely.

The beauty of America is that we don't do that, but rather let the invisible hand do what it does best - allocate resources according to natural forces.

There are plenty of nations where your bureaucratic nirvana takes place. Don't you think it's a good thing is there's a choice, and that we have at least one place where you can get what you want by working hard and taking risks, rather than by working some grim-faced official in a cheap suit?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 10:01 am

Is that supposed to be some kind of an insult? Are people who wear designer clothes somehow better human beings?

There's no beauty in being slapped down by the invisible hand.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 10:06 am

bureaucrats who you appear to believe should have the power to decide who lives where.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 10:18 am

Your faith in bureaucrats and systems is touching, but not broadly held.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 11:16 am

Open, democratic processes surrounding the governance of land tenure obviate both the bureaucrats and the landlords.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 11:31 am

activists and advocates.

I'd rather have the current system that give power to those who make the most noise and effort.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

Greg, you don't get to decide what I will charge for rent and I will not decide where you can call home….

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 6:13 am

Rent control is something that we ultimately have a say in, democratically. I think that's fair. It's not fair to let people gouge their fellow human beings. I know you're not concerned with what's fair, but fortunately most San Franciscans are.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 8:57 am

And the Ellis act is the cure for hypocrites like you, self entitled jerks who want their own freedom to decide, but can't wait the make property owners slaves to vampire tenants.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:15 am

Clearly they're making money hand over fist, otherwise they'd all Ellis their properties. The dirty little secret is that the great majority of landlords are making far more than enough to cover their expenses. Their tenants work for a living. Their productive work goes to support both the tenant, and the landlord -the rentier class that lives like a leech off the productive work of others. Who's the real vampire here?

Posted by Greg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:33 am

and get regular turnover. Ellis is designed for those cases where one landlords is unlucky and has no turnover for decades, meaning that the rents he get are nowhere close to being competitive with other investments.

This seems fair to me. Most landlords are happy to continue to offer you housing. But for the small percent who get really shafted by controls on rents, there is an exit strategy.

Why do you hate balance and the idea of a safety machanism?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:40 am

with your anti-america, "grass is always greener on the other side" nonsense.

and yes, anyone with a brain would not stay in a place they clearly hate

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 9:38 am

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