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Friday, July 30, 2021

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UncategorizedCity Beat: Serial Ellis Evictors and mid-Market community benefits...

City Beat: Serial Ellis Evictors and mid-Market community benefits (or not)

The anti-eviction map folks have come up with a list of the “Dirty Dozen” serial evictors, landlords who have cleared out multiple apartment buildings and sold the places.

I think what we might see in the state Legislature is a bill that would require someone to own a place for five years before invoking the Ellis Act. That might slow the speculative evictions.

On the other hand, longtime owners will have a motivation to do the Ellis Evictions themselves, and then sell the place vacant, for a lot more money that they could get for a building full of renters.


The League of Pissed Off Voters has a great account of why the Central Market Citizens Advisory Committee voted to reject most of the Community Benefits Agreements from tech companies that got the Twitter tax break. Short answer: The companies didn’t promise to do anything that would seriously mitigate the impacts they are having on the neighborhood.

When you take the time to read the proposed agreements, you see the problem. Twitter, for example, says that “the highest priorities for the community are workforce development and job security, creating equity and bridging the digital divide, and fostering an intimate and organic relationship with … community organizations.”

Um, if you ask most of the residents and the nonprofits in the community what their highest priorities are, I guarantee the majority will say: Stop the evictions. Housing security is the biggest concern of San Franciscans these days, particularly in renter-heavy central city areas. Every nonprofit in the central Market area is worried about getting displace by soaring rents.

What can Twitter do about that? Well, I can think of a couple of things …. Meanwhile, the company promises to make grants to nonprofits totaling at least $60,000 in the next year. Yes: A whole whopping $60,000 from a company that got a tax break worth 300 times that much. Then there’s a section called “Preserve affordable housing and tackle homelessness.” Here’s how that works, ready?

Twitter, in concert with other CBA companies, will work in partnership with the office of the City Administrator as the city develops and online affordable housing database for Central Market and the Tenderloin that would provide information on vacancies, waitlist status updates, income qualifications and contact information for housing and shelter in the area.”

Read that again, and think about it. The owners of the Twitter building got away with cheating the city out of $25 million worth of housing and transit money – cash that could have actually built housing units for low-income people. The company got a huge tax break. And not one penny will go from Twitter to create a single housing unit. Instead, the company will tell people how many years they have to wait for affordable housing and create a database for people who don’t have computers to look for housing vacancies that don’t exist. Oh, and contact information for shelters.

It’s kind of staggering, really. It makes you wonder who at Twitter writes this stuff, and whether those people have a clue what it’s like on the streets of San Francisco.

The Twitter Community Liason is Jenna Sampson. Her email is sf@twitter.com. I just sent her a note and asked how this would create any affordable housing or prevent evictions, and who exactly it would help. I’ll let you know what she says.

Then there’s One King’s Lane. That company, by its own description, is “an exciting, curated destination where consumers could shop, get inspired, find their favorite home and lifestyle brands, and discover new ones.”

In the OKL Community Benefits Agreement, the company offers to work with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic to donate $25,000 worth of “product” to the residents of SRO hotels. Fancy sheets and pillows. Lifestyle products. Just what people who barely can pay rent and eat need.

Yammer is a subsidiary of Microsoft, one of the biggest and richest corporations on the planet. In exchange for its tax break, Yammer will provide $10,000 worth of computer hardware to local nonprofits. That’s what Bill Gates makes about every minute. And there will be a fund of another $60,000 for hyper-local nonprofit grants.

You get the idea. The proposed agreements are all right here, and I encourage you to read them, and think about what the city is getting in exchange for an extraordinary and lucrative tax break.

Much of what the documents promise is framed in terms like “encourage.” The companies will “encourage” employees to volunteer time with local nonprofits. Two days a year (yes, two days, that’s 16 hours) employees will get paid for volunteer work.

It’s no wonder that the CAC rejected most of it. It’s no wonder, I suppose, that the city will ignore the CAC and approve it all anyway.



Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.
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