UPDATE: Activists Outraged as Dueling TIC Proposals Compete at City Hall for Votes
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’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.