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

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

I'm just not so myopic that I don't think we can't learn from other places.

But since you seem to hate San Francisco so much, with its rent control and high taxes, why don't YOU move to a place that's more amenable to your ideological bent... like Texas?

Posted by Greg on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:00 am

But of course only as long as I only rent out on a temporary basis using AirBnB

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:17 am

That's why it's always good to see what they're doing in other places. Good ideas can be emulated.

For starters, the SFBG could take a look at how The Stranger blog runs its comment board. Anyone can post, but they strongly encourage you to register. You can place an unregistered comment, but your comment will be "hidden." Readers can voluntarily unblock hidden comments, but clearly less people will read unregistered comments that way.

Also, they don't organize subthreads the same way. Comments are just posted in sequence. You can respond to another comment, but you just have to indicate which comment you're responding to.

The result is less back-and-forth bickering, and less trolling. Even on controversial threads like those dealing with Kshama Sawant, the new Socialist city councilwoman-elect (congratulations by the way!). A few trolls still lurk and insist on posting their bile; they waste no opportunity to hate and ridicule. But everyone knows who they are and no one seems to take them very seriously.

Take a look, SFBG. This is what a well-run comment section looks like.
http://slog.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/

Posted by Greg on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 8:54 am

If you cannot respond to a specific post, then there cannot really be any debates - just generic posting.

Or perhaps you don't like debates?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:44 am

I feel for people who get evicted from their apartments. But apartments are temporary..so the outrage about not getting to live in your apartment for your entire life is ridiculous. Unless you BUY your apartment. Why is this so hard for so many people to grasp? I am a poor renter by the way.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

gotten the idea that a month-to-month tenancy gives them the same property rights as ownership.

More, in fact.

Weird.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

They'll realize quite quickly they don't have an asset after all.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

worthless

waste

of

evil

stuffed

skin

you are.....

Posted by ijndukd on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:19 pm

when callous elites like you will get month to month stints in prison

if you are lucky.....

Posted by lnb on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

Good luck finding a court that takes that view. And be sure not to mention that opinion to landlords the next time you are looking for a place to live.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 7:03 am

It was very sad to hear all those people today. They really believed that private property owners owe them lifetime housing at a discount, and therefore inadequately planned for their future.

Where does the delusion come from?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

Most of the people at these hearings are carted in by Non Profit Inc and its subsidiaries - a lot of these people exist entirely on the largess of these organizations so what else are they supposed to think? They've been conditioned to believe the government gravy train is never going to end - they'll continue to receive rent stablilization & rental subsidies, medical & day care, food and transportation forever and ever and ever.

Imagine being conditioned to that lifestyle and then being scared straight when your "housing counselor" at one of the myriad of Chinatown non profits which controls the buildings there calls to tell you of this recent "threat." You'd be scared shitless. My heart breaks for these poor people - they're just roadkill in the high speed lane of David Campos' Assembly campaign and cannon fodder for the San Francisco Non Profit Complex.

We'll see how serious this all is once it hits the Tenderloin, which is really the next neighborhood in line. It'll be like the battles over Tompkins Square Park in NY's lower east side in the 80s. Of course - gentrification won that battle too.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

i feel sorry for you

your blood and breath are hate and spite

you must wish deep inside yourself (in a dark corner of your mind that even you cannot see) that you'd never been born

it's really too bad that you were.....

for the rest of us

Posted by ijndu on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

constituency i.e. the segment of tenants who are here not for a specific job or because they were raised here, but rather who came here because they were inadequate and thought that SF would be "cool" and "hip" and "tolerant", but who are really just a drag on our community and our taxbase, contributing nothing but their own sense of self-absorption and entitlement.

A few of them post here.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 7:05 am

illusion that you can shit incessantly on people who have less than yourself

and foolishly fantasize that they will not some day rise up and strike you down

LOW

Posted by ijndukd on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:22 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 7:09 am

brings the disgusting deception, of the concern troll

to new reprehensible depths

(think about what a piece of worthless lonely garbage you are, the next time you look in the mirror)

Posted by lnbg on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

Must he pepper every single speech he makes with a soliloquy on what San Francisco is REALLY about?

For someone who grew up in Guatemala and then Los Angeles he sure thinks has his finger on the REAL San Francisco.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

that a soulless vacuum would object to others discussing such a concept.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

while the gettin's good

some day soon there will no quarter given to worthless leaches like you

Posted by ijndu on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

We're not going to start hearing you say again that landlords are like rabid animals, are we?

Violent fantasies of killing your political opponents are **so** tedious...

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:44 am

you fucking worthless peace of walking talking shit

Posted by ijn on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:01 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 7:12 am

It just breaks my heart to see his descent into madness.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

Having beheaded his landlord upon being presented with a $5 rent increase notice.

Very sad.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

Screaming "it's all FAKE!!" at that kid with cancer who the Make a Wish Foundation is creating the elaborately cool Batman for.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

Campos and his ilk are worried that when the tide turns and there are more homeowners and market rate renters they will never get elected to office again.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:16 am

useless piece of shit

Posted by ijndu on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:45 am

Temper, temper, lilli.

Sleep is good...

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:50 am

you fucking gutless pussy motherfucker

Posted by ijnd on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 1:59 am

And your denials are a little too desperate sounding and frequent to be believed.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 7:09 am

The dedication of Republican/Libertarian apologists beating the drum against tenants and rent control on these threads is something else. They do *not* represent the majority of San Franciscans.

Posted by Mike on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 7:11 am

Franciscans" do not think that a month-to-month tenancy equates to a lifetime lease. And that that majority believe that some mechanism ought to exist for a property owner to get his property back if he has tired on being a landlord.

Certainly that is what the State legislators have always maintained, and they reflect the majority in the State.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 7:17 am

Rent control has unintended consequences. E.g., when units turn over, landlords/owners jack the rent way up to recoup money. And when they turn over, landlords want to rent to young people with good incomes to avoid getting stuck with a protected "lifer" tenant. A young tech worker, for example, is more likely to move after a few years.

These new regs that Campos is proposing will just lead to throwing things more out of whack. Units not subject to rent control (and there are many of them) will be priced higher. When rent controlled units turn over, the prices will be jacked even higher. I think these regs might help a small number of long-term tenants at present, but will lead to greater problems in the future.

Posted by The Commish on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 10:20 am

entire reason for Ellis is that rent control has been over-tinkered in some cities. (Well, just three in all of CA - SF, Berkeley and Santa Monica).

Your point about how to pick tenants who are least likely to stick around is a good one, and I have developed that to a fine art. That too is a classic unintended consequence because the people who most need lifelong subsidies are the ones who are the least likely to ever be invited to join the club.

In addition to my usual rules (e.g. no lawyers, no activists, nobody without a decent job) we need to add a few specials. Foreigners are perfect as they usually do not stick around and, anyway, do not assert their rights, assuming they even have any here. Paradoxically, illegals are great because they too will never assert their rights. Even students - normally a no-no, can be OK because after a year they typically move on.

Then some people are just plain decent. I had one such tenant who moved out simply because I verbally asked him to. I didn't want to give him written notice because that might have come back to bite me, but he just left anyway. Not everyone is grabby, and they are like gold dust.

Of course, many LL's are going the temporary route, via AirBnB etc. I know one building where the units are rented out for just a few months at a time to Europeans on 4 or 6 month work contracts here. There's a constant stream of them and they are easily found via CraigsList or word-of-mouth.

A high-tech company in SOMA has placed a few contractors with me. Top dollar and they rotate after 6 months.

What you absolutely do not want is the guy who moves to SF because he thinks it's "cool" or because he feels out of place in other towns. Avoid artists like the plague. They will stick around for decades "for their art" and bleed you dry.

So yeah, only rent to the people who do not need or want rent control.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 10:48 am

This is exactly what happens.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 11:06 am

Doesn't the law require that one and only one criterion can be used in the market to determine to whom a seller sells, price?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 11:09 am

determinant.

You see this very clearly in the sale of RE, where the seller may often choose a buyer with a lower offer if that offer comes with fewer contingencies. A cash buyer who puts in a "no contingency" offer may well succeed even where a higher offer exists.

With renting there is usually less haggling over price anyway, but a LL may choose one TT over another based on intuitive factors such as those mentioned earlier. You have to be a little careful that that doesn't form the basis of a perception of discrimination against a protected group. But the classes of people I discriminate against, such as lawyers and activists, are not protected.

Ask any landlord and they will tell you that they'd rather have a great tenant at 90% of the rent than a whiney loser for 100% of the rent.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 11:22 am

So you discriminate against people who know their rights. Landlords like you are why we need more laws to protect tenants.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:23 am

People who are constantly whining about their rights are not a protected class, so it's perfectly legal to discriminate against them.

And the idea that a business might prefer some characteristics in their custoemers to others in universal. That's why businesses look at market segmentation - so they can target only the customers they most want to have

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:54 am

You're defending the indefensible.

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

thing. It is, for instance, what you practice when you decide who to do business with, which job to take, who your friends are, who to date or marry, and so on.

We all do this and it is perfectly OK except in some very specifically defined areas.

If a landlord has ten offers to rent his unit, are you suggesting that he should not take personal factors into account? And especially given that it can be very expensive for a landlord to end up with the same tenant for 30 years, why would he not favor someone who is much more likely to be temporary.

You cannot support laws like rent control and then complain when owners take legal steps to try and mitigate their risk.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 10:22 am

Pity the poor landlord. In his world, his tenants bleed him dry. In the real world, the recipient of money is bleeding the payer of money.

That's still happening with these "ideal" tenants, a better victim to the landlord leech.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 11:45 am

reasonable people and actually progress with their lives rather than stay in the same unit for decades. Given reasonable turnover, the ROI on SF RE can be decent although, even then it's often only the capital appreciation that really makes it worthwhile; the rents just wash your face.

There are definitely some LL's who suffer hardship, typically the older "mon n pop" retirees who think that a nice little rental building will provide for their dotage and then end up with the tenants from hell. Ellis was designed for that situation.

It's really in a tenant's interests that his LL makes a reasonable ROI because if those returns can be bettered elsewhere, and with less risk, your home isn't safe in the medium-term.

Put another way, market-rent tenants never get Elli'sed, so you can assess your own risk by simply comparing your rent to the market. If it's too low, you're on someone's hit list.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 11:58 am

It's obvious that Ellis Act evictions almost exclusively occur in buildings with very low paying tenants. If the city wants to discourage such evictions, it will have to develop a support system for the affected properties. Examples include direct subsidies or property tax credits (both of which could be means-tested).

The community depends on them to remain in the rental business.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

carrot rather than a stick, and perhaps making it worthwhile for landlords to sustain a building full of low rents when the economics for that building compelling scream for dissolved the enterprise.

It's the randomness and lumpiness of the current system that drives landlords to quit. Two landlords can buy identical buildings next door to each other, for the same price and with the same rents. But then, over time, one gets turnover and one does not. And the difference becomes enormous and, frankly, unjustifiable.

We cannot place the burden of housing the poor on a small, unlucky group of risk-takers, without understanding that they may respond by removing the punchbowl.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

Over time, through luck, circumstance, choices and (mostly) birth lottery, they have different incomes and wealth. And the difference becomes enormous and, frankly, unjustifiable.

You want socialism for landlords, don't you?

Par for the course, privatize profits, socialize losses.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

ability to make their own decisions that account for any deviation of outcomes.

While in the example I gave, the decisions these theoretical landlords make have no effect - the outcomes are determined by randomness.

And it matters because the landlord who gets that randomly bad luck will Ellis.

I'm actually OK with socialistic help for the poor with their housing costs. I just do not think that that cost should fall on a very small number of people for no good reason.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

his birth lottery, the largest determinant of the "deviation of outcomes."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

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