Dist 2 Sup. Mark Ferrell and Dist. 8 Sup. Scott Wiener
Castro’s Sup. Scott Wiener and Dist. 2 Sup, Mark Ferrell, have introduced legislation which, if passed, could allow owners to repeal rent control from thousands of landlord-occupied apartment buildings.
Their plan will let Tenant in Common (TIC) buildings become condominiums automatically, bypassing the condo conversions lottery and tenant protections in the City’s condo conversion law.
The legislation will let any TIC property with two or more owner occupants pay a fee to become a condominium. Currently, under California state law, condominiums are exempt from rent control.
The issue comes before the full Board on Monday, January 28th. Opponents against the new edict have called for a noon rally and protest at City Hall followed by participation in pubic comment during the 1:30 PM BOS hearing.
Opponents say Wiener’s proposed legislation is a huge gift to property owners. If passed by the BOS, following the trend of current condo conversion figures, the value of these newly converted condos will increase the property by well over 20%. Its estimated 2,000 such units will be eligible.
Renter’s rights groups consider this new law an unneeded financial boon to landlords. Landlords are collecting record profits. According to a recent HuffPo post, San Francisco has the highest rents in the country.
This law, activists challenge, benefits SF’s 1%, politically connected, City Hall insiders not the everyday, 99% majority.
Many renters fear If this legislation passes, they can expect to see a sharp increase in evictions as landlords anticipate that City Hall will let them move in, pay the fee to convert to condo and thus repeal rent control on all units within the building.
A Coalition of Tenant Rights Groups rally at 18th & Castro. Dec. 19, 2012 (Photo: AsianWeek)
This proposed new law adds insult to injury piled on top of increased evictions from the unbridled use of the Ellis Act. Protests have been ongoing as tenant advocacy groups have rallied, most recently on Dec.19th in the Castro, to raise awareness and support for a change in the law.
There are a rash of new builds in the pipeline in various stages of development within the City. SF real estate blog, SocketSite, forecasts 43,580 will be added to the rental/own market, including five on deck in the Castro, completed in the next four to five years.
Approximately 2700-3200 of those projected units will have been finished in various City neighborhoods and ready for move in by the end of 2013. Compare that number to the less than 250 new units made available in all of 2011 and it’s apparent real estate development in SF is experiencing another unprecedented boom.
Sadly little of these new, available units helps San Francisco’s working/middle class, working poor or those who fall below the poverty level currently struggling to maintain residence in the City.
Additionally none of these new build units would be covered under the auspices of current, SF, rent control, guidelines. The City’s rent control only applies to buildings constructed prior to June 13,1979.
“Ellis evictions have tripled and rents now average over $3,000 a month,” said Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee one of Monday’s coalition organizers. “Renters are struggling to remain in their homes and in the city and this is the wrong time to give speculators an incentive to do more evictions.”
Sierra Club, SF Bay Area Chapter, came out against the Wiener/Ferrel ordinance. The Club encouraged all San Franciscan’s to join them in writing the Board to strike down the proposal. They also want everyone to attend Monday’s rally, protest and public speak out.
Sierra Club said, in part, in their missive to the Board, “Instead of enacting this ordinance, the City of San Francisco should pursue policies that protect rent stabilization and rent-stabilized units, which are a housing type that can’t be expanded (by law), and support the construction of more affordable housing, including family size units.”
Popular local blog, BeyondChron concluded, “Increasing condo conversions and eliminating rent control for thousands of units does nothing to address any of the housing affordability and no-fault eviction problems impacting San Francisco. Instead, it makes them worse.”