Tenants packed the LGBT center to talk about how to fight back

 By Tim Redmond

There had to be 250 people at the Castro Tenants Convention Saturday, a sign of two important political facts: The politics of 2014 will be driven by tenant issues, particularly evictions – and there’s an increasingly organized movement to fight back.

Three supervisors were on hand, including Scott Wiener, who of course represents the Castro but is hardly a tenant favorite. He sat quietly on the edge of the crowd for two hours, listening and taking notes. David Campos, who is very much an ally of the tenant movement, was there, talking to people in the crowd, as was David Chiu, who is running against Campos for state Assembly.

And here’s the real news: The proposal that got the most overwhelming support was the notion of substantially raising the relocation fees on Ellis Act evictions, adopting the 1971 federal relocation standard, which is designed to keep people from being forced out of their communities. Under that standard, a landlord evicting a tenant under the Ellis Act would be required to pay that tenant the difference between his or her current rent and the market rent in the same neighborhood – for four years.

The impact would be dramatic: The longer a person had lived in an apartment, and the lower the rent, the harder it would be to do an Ellis Act eviction. Long-term tenants with rent control would have the strongest protection – since evicting someone in, say, the Castro who has been living there for 20 years and is paying $1,000 a month rent would cost maybe $4,000 a month for four years, or close to $200,000. (more after the jump)