UPDATE: Activists Outraged as Dueling TIC Proposals Compete at City Hall for Votes

supervisor-scott-wiener-district-8

Sup. Wiener in BOS Chambers

UPDATE (9PM): the version of the TIC condo conversion ordinance backed by Supervisor David Chiu was given initial approval by the Board of Supervisors, 8-3, and the version backed by Supervisors Wiener and Mark Farrell failed. More on the vote from the Chronicle, which makes the point that the eight votes in favor are enough to override a mayoral veto. No word from the Mayor on his plans. Final approval from the Board is still needed.

Longtime LGBT and Housing Activist, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, whose worked in concert with many other groups on the tentatively approved measure posted on his Facebook page in response to the vote in part, “We hopefully put a dent in future speculation….we’ve made the politicians aware of the epidemic of evictions that is displacing so many throughout the city. Now we have to do the real hard work. We have to campaign against the Ellis Act. We have to really organize like never before.”
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Supervisor Scott Wiener surprisingly resubmitted his original, unaltered, hotly decried tenant-in-common condo conversion legislation to the Board of Supervisors in direct competition with Board President, David Chui’s, compromised and Tenant Union approved TIC proposal forcing a show down between the two ideologies at today’s 2PM BOS meeting.

As the Biscuit has noted over the last few months the original, jointly proposed legislation by Supervisors Mark Farrell (Dist 2) and Wiener to circumvent the TIC/condo lottery system and allow a mass of TIC owners to pay a one-time fee to convert set off a firestorm of outrage and panic amongst tenant unions and housing activists who claim this move would lead to mass evictions and whittle the City’s already quickly shrinking units governed by rent control.

Coalition of Tenants protesting TIC law at City Hall on 1/28. (Photo: Waiyde Palmer)

Coalition of Tenants protesting TIC law at City Hall on 1/28. (Photo: Waiyde Palmer)

At subsequent BOS committee and full meetings protest were staged challenging the Wiener-Farrell proposal. Mayor Ed Lee pressed for compromise and BOS Prez, Chiu met with a cross-section of tenant rights organizations to find one. In the end a moratorium would be placed on any TIC condo conversion request not already wait listed for 10 years while the City worked with developers to build more affordable housing and 2000 plus property owners-effecting approximately 700 buildings citywide-currently on the list would be allowed to convert in staggered groups over a three-year period.

Sup. and Board of Sup. Prez. David Chiu

Sup. and Board of Sup. Prez. David Chiu

The Land Use Committee voted June 3 (2-1, with Chiu and Kim voting yes and Wiener opposed) to send the tenant-supported legislation to the full board and keep a Wiener-backed rival measure stuck in committee. But since then, Wiener invoked a board rule allowing four supervisors to pull the stalled legislation out of committee, getting Farrell and Sups. Katy Teng and London Breed to place that rival measure on Tuesday’s agenda as well.

Tenant Union and renter advocates are in a word, pissed, and a call has gone out to flood City Hall Supe’s offices with messages of outrage, encourage them to block Wiener’s challenge to the compromised bill, to come to today’s 2PM BOS meeting and protest what some are calling an end run move to stall or dismantle the tenant approved Chiu brokered compromise.

Wiener has said in the past in response to many critics of his original bill that everyone is over reacting and that this legislation won’t lead to more mass evictions. He’s also said this  competing bill coming before the Board today has only ‘minor’ differences between Sup. Chiu’s.

One difference deals with whether transfers of ownership interest will affect an applicant’s spot in the queue and the other involves the 10 year moratorium conceived by tenant groups, which would freeze the conversion process if anyone challenges the legislation in court, as real estate interests have threatened to do.

Wiener said the tenant-backed legislation’s changes to condo conversion eligibility, such as a 10-year wait period and banning future conversions of buildings with more than five units, that would remain in place after a successful legal challenge is an unfair overreach.

Dist 2. Sup. Mark Farrell

Dist 2. Sup. Mark Farrell

Sup. Farrell has washed his hands of his orignal bill he introduced in June of 2012 and said he wouldn’t be voting for his own legislation today as result of the tenant unions input on his original proposal and would instead back Wiener’s bill.

Activists aren’t buying Wiener’s proposal or explanations. The often polarizing Supervisor’s attempt to reassure tenants and rent control advocates have fallen on deaf ears as citizen after citizen at TIC/Condo conversion protests have come forward with personal testimonials about being evicted from their homes by speculative developers who buy buildings, convert them and then push them out.

Activist have started a Recall Wiener petition over at Change.Org and a Facebook event was created to help spur that cause. Other organizations are urging all concerned City dwellers to come to City Hall and protest while others like Tenants Together have posted and contacted all their members to reach out and call in their desires to Supervisors directly.

Lobbyist Mary Jung

Lobbyist , SFDC Pres. Mary Jung

Real estate interests aren’t messing around and are shoring up their interests. They will certainly try to preserve an ability for speculators to continue funneling more rent-controlled apartments into the real estate market, and last week according to the SF Bay Guardian, the San Francisco Association of Realtors announced hiring the influential, newly elected chair of the Democratic County Central Committee Mary Jung, current PG&E rep and one time spokesperson for former Mayor now Lt. Gov, Gavin Newsom, as their new point person on lobbying and housing issues.

As intimately involved individuals within both warring groups will attest-many see this issue as a litmus test to the future and soul of the City. There is little doubt the City is desperate for more affordable housing as evictions have hit a twelve-year high.

No one can argue that the rent controlled market has been drastically cut and will continue to shrink. The real estate boom underway in the Castro and City isn’t able to meet current affordable housing needs let alone future ones. The City housing trust set aside that developers can contribute to in leu of providing on site fair market units in new builds isn’t able to meet present day needs of the newly evicted, or middle class working families and long-term SF residents now pushed out of long occupied, rent controlled homes as its goals are focused on as yet undetermined future builds.

TIC Protest StickerToday’s meeting will most certainly be contentious and fraught with fireworks. If you have an interest or want to have your voice heard today would be the day to go down to City Hall and take part in the democratic process. If you can’t make it down call your Supervisor-even if their position is already on record-as a dissent or approval translates to constituent displeasure/happiness and future votes lost or gained.

Waiyde Palmer

Waiyde Palmer loves San Francisco, social activism and punk rock(ers). His work has appeared in Handbook Magazine. SF Bay Times, The Advocate, Diseased Pariah News and American Music Press . He also has an extensive and repeatedly redacted FBI file.

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18 Responses

  1. Brian Basinger says:

    Hi. I think the rally us at 3 pm today

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  2. MPetrelis says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  3. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • rblack says:

      Let’s see if I can unpack this.

      I’ve never heard Supervisor Wiener compare himself to Harvey Milk. If he has, please point me to your source.

      What are the policies he’s either introduced or supported that work to defeat rent control? He’s supported many pro-tenant initiatives including Prop H and Prop M. He wrote the legislation banning Universities from converting rent control housing into student housing. I’ve never heard him say anything that indicates he is anti-rent control.

      I’ve emailed him personally many times on issues small and large. From a failure of 311.org to take care of my complaint, to my disagreement on the very TIC bill discussed in this post, and have received a reply in every instance. I find him to be very responsive for a public official. Does he always do what I tell him, no of coarse not, but he replies.

      I see him on MUNI all the time. If you live in the Castro and ride MUNI you will have seen him. He’s the most pro fix MUNI Supervisor we’ve ever had. See these two recent CB posts:

      http://castrobiscuit dot com/2013/06/02/the-stro-street-scene-wiener-vs-muni-and-red-lane-violators-exposed/

      http://castrobiscuit dot com/2013/05/28/sup-wiener-proposes-surcharge-on-big-tix-entertainment-to-help-fix-muni/

      Obviously you are entitled to how you feel and you’ll get the chance to vote him out of office next year. Currently I would support him, but I have no idea who his challenger would be so that’s not definite.

      I understand why people may not like Wiener’s policies, but his record had become more myth than fact. Let’s debate facts.

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        • rblack says:

          I couldn’t find any interview or statement from him in the Castro Courier stating he is upholding Milk’s legacy. I may have missed something, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

          I believe the contention over Trinity Plaza had to do with where developer fees were directed. There was legislation that wanted fees that would normally go to transportation to be directed to affordable housing and Wiener chose to protect transportation. You could argue that was a bad decision, and that affordable housing is more important, where others might argue that public transport effects everyone. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

          Comparing that judgement call with his other pro tenant, pro housing legislation, I just cant make the leap to him being anti tenant.

          As far as the CCC, I snooped around the web. The only negative article I could find was from the Petrelis Files. Even that wasn’t a ‘smoking gun’ that Wiener was doing nothing. Beswick (manager of CCC) himself said that basically Weiner was doing all he could, but understood that Weiner couldn’t direct money to the club without the Mayor and the remaining board’s support. Stating that Weiner was silent on the issue just isn’t true.

          As to your communication with him, what can I say? I’ve had good and you’ve had bad. Maybe it’s your approach? Obviously I can’t defend that, he should acknowledge your concerns.

          The nudity ban is difference in opinion. I’m not going to open that can of worms as it always ends badly. I live a block away, and why I never formally complained, I did see behavior which would lead me to believe that some people might have a problem with the guys there.

          Where you and I are in agreement though is the handling of HMP and JWP. The decision by him and the Castro CBD to remove the chairs and benches was a mistake that needs to be rectified.

          (I’d also like to see the Randy Rooster be required to donate money to revitalize Harvey Milk Plaza as a condition of their change of use permit being approved – but that’s for another thread.)

          I know I’m not going to change your mind about him, but really his record is much better than people give him credit for. No politician is ever going to make everyone in their district happy, but I think overall Wiener is trying to do his best to represent everyone in his district, not just this group or that group.

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        • Derek SF says:

          Yes, look at the current TIC stuff, it was hijacked by the Tenants Union and made future condo conversion such a remote possibility, we’ll only see more Ellis Acts as there is no longer an incentive to try and make a building Condo Eligible as building owners are looking to cash out during the height of the housing market instead of dealing with our overprotective tenants rights laws and rent control.

          He’s pushed for more housing development and micro-units, which will be purchased by middle to upper middle class and those eligible for BMR units, many of whom are living in rent controlled units today looking to establish units and start families freeing up stock of those units.

          As far The Castro Country Club, again lies and mistruths…

          Rebecca Prozan, a member of the advisory board, said the club has been given no indication that Maumer wants them to vacate the property. And she thanked Wiener for assisting in the sale.

          “We are grateful Scott is as invested in the sober space as we are and for his help,” she said.

          http://ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=67304

          Nudity Ban. How is that a bad thing? We have Harvey Milk School and Recreation center a few blocks away on Collingwood. Should children have to see erect cocks on there walk home? I’m no prude, and enjoy Folsom and Dore Alley, but there is a time and place, and standing around naked in broad daylight on the corner of the street isn’t it.

          Removing the Benches? It was occupied by street kids who were doing drugs, harassing people, making noise at night and refused the services of outreach workers.

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  4. rblack says:

    Very informative and balanced post.

    I think both of these pieces of legislation are horrible and too extreme.

    If we want to help TIC owners or we want to revamp the way we handle the Condo Lottery, there must be better and more simple ways to do it.

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    • Derek SF says:

      Personally I would vote for keeping the status quo then risk these new “Compromise” amendments.
      The Lottery process already offers many protections against evictions by excluding buildings with Ellis Acts and investigating the previous 7 years rental history. Unlawful evictions do happen on occasion and should be investigated by the city and the owners prosecuted.

      I bought a TIC knowing full well it would take at-least 10 years to condo convert, and face interest rates about 2% higher then condos during that time. The lotto did take longer then expected for early buyers facing refinancing issues and interest resets, but there was never a guarantee. Buyers have a responsibility to educate themselves and know the risks they are getting themselves into, like sub prime loan issue.

      To replace the dwindling supply of rent controlled housing, why not expand the number of available units, for example any new tenant who rents a unit in a building that is over 30 years, instead of the 1979 cutoff, would be covered by rent control. I would also suggest allowing increase of 100% CPI instead of the current 60% to reduce the huge disparity charged towards for new tenants when existing rents can no longer keep up with an owners increasing expenses.

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      • Waiyde Palmer says:

        “To replace the dwindling supply of rent controlled housing, why not expand the number of available units, for example any new tenant who rents a unit in a building that is over 30 years, instead of the 1979 cutoff, would be covered by rent control. I would also suggest allowing increase of 100% CPI instead of the current 60% to reduce the huge disparity charged towards for new tenants when existing rents can no longer keep up with an owners increasing expenses.”
        Thank you. Both of these solutions I’ve been suggesting to anyone who will listen or effect change as well. Nice to know I’m not alone in my thinking.

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  5. Derek SF says:

    How can you call the “poison pill” amendment a “Comprise”? It would halt both the bypass and lottery until all legal challenges are settled or 2024 whichever comes first, which most certainly would halt any condo conversions for the next 10 years in this litigious town. Of course he wouldn’t vote for that, it strays so far from the original intent of the bill which was to help “Home Owners” not “Speculators” in group loans who may not be able to refinance and would face foreclosure since the lottery took longer then anyone expected, while at the same time offering a moratorium on conversions, money for affordable housing and additional protection for renters.

    The other “Compromise” amendment to block condo eligibility for 5 and 6 unit buildings seems like it would only accelerate Ellis Act Evictions. Owners would no longer have an incentive to wait out tenants or offer lucrative buyouts to sell a building as condo eligible. If that amendment passes owners might as well just Ellis Act a whole building at 5K per tenant and sell as lifetime TIC’s while the market is at an all time high, and there’s definitely no shortage of buyers especially with fractional financing now available. Be careful what you ask for.

    @ MPetrelis while the particular NY Times case may sound exaggerated, between problem tenants, rent control and our overly protective tenants rights it definitely discourages a huge number of owners from renting that leads to higher rents due to dwindling supply. I personally know of a case where a tenant could no longer afford to pay their rent, the landlord was nice enough to let him stay several months because he promised to pay but eventually had to serve a 3 day notice, the tenant found a pro-bono attorney and fought the eviction and ended up taking several more months though our slow court system and cost the owner over $20K.

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  6. RS says:

    The Change.org petition to recall Supervisor Wiener doesn’t make any sense. It has no legal weight. The City has procedures for initiating a recall vote and it’s not done through Change.org or any other online petition. If people are serious about wanting to do that, at least organize and do it through the proper legal channels that already exist.

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    • rblack says:

      I’m against the recall of politicians unless they’ve done something illegal or unethical. I didn’t support Gray Davis’ recall nor the effort to recall Arnie.

      We have a political process for getting rid of politicians whose policies we don’t agree with or don’t like, it’s called an election. That is the right approach to remove someone from office.

      Supervisor Wiener is up for reelection next year anyway, so this effort is at best, for attention.

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  7. Derek SF says:

    Watching live on http://www.sfgovtv.org
    Looks like some new additional amendments to alleviate some of the “poison pill” concerns.

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  8. Derek SF says:

    There’s an excellent write up of what was passed here: http://www.andysirkin.com/HTMLArticle.cfm?Article=219

    The various newspapers did a terrible job of explaining the legislation.

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