Castro tenants prep for citywide tenants convention
About 150 Castro-area residents, city politicians, and members of statewide renters organizations showed up yesterday to the Castro Tenants Convention at the LGBT Center to brainstorm legislative solutions and actionable ideas to combat the growing problem of housing displacement in San Francisco.
Legislative solutions are being brainstormed at all of the neighborhood tenants conventions being organized by the Housing Rights Committee of SF, AIDS Housing Alliance, and Harvey Milk Democratic Club. The most popular ideas will be distilled down into real legislative possibilities by advocates and lawyers who will then write the legalese.
The actionable ideas are ideas from convention-goers about what they could do now to protect people being displaced from housing while legislative solutions are being formed.
Community activist Tommy Mecca opened the convention by asking how many people in the crowd had been evicted, knew someone who had been evicted, or knew someone who had been priced out of San Francisco and forced to move out of the city. Nearly every person in the room raised their hand.
Housing rights activist Fred Sherburn-Zimmer led the discussion/brainstorm with the crowd and came up with a list of 20+ possible legislative solutions and 20+ possible actionable ideas. The legislative solutions and actionable ideas were filtered down to just a couple by a vote from the room.
Among the many legislative solutions offered by attendees including banning Google bus runs in certain neighborhoods; demanding on-site housing from developers and closing city-fund loophole; expanding area median income definition to include a wider range of income for affordable housing eligibility; regulating AirBnB and similar hotelization of units; legalizing illegal units and placing them under rent control; working with Silicon Valley to make it a more desirable place to live (that one elicited big laughs from the room); a few suggestions grew wide consensus: Ellis Act reform and setting relocation fees to meet the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance standard codified in 1971.
Actionable Solutions for Right Now
Tenants were ready to start protecting other citizens and themselves at the meeting. Actionable solutions included disseminating more information about eviction and housing by going door-to-door and offering leaflets, a larger awareness push for the city-wide tenants convention, and putting banners on houses that have had Ellis Act evictions. The actionable items that attendees thought were the most doable were blocking the physical eviction of a tenant by law enforcement and staging more displacement theatre throughout the city. Attendees broke off into groups with organizers to plan strategies for executing thee ideas.
City Hall took note
Castro’s District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener showed up and spoke with citizens before and after the meeting. David Campos (District 9) and David Chiu (District 3) showed up during the meeting and stayed to speak with many folks after.
There are a few more neighborhood tenants conventions planned before the city-wide convention taking place February 8th at 350 Rhode Island Street including one for the Tenderloin.