Campos told me he has already asked the city attorney to draft legislation to adopt that standard – and it could become the defining issue of the spring.
Wiener told me this was the first he had heard of the idea (he clearly doesn’t read 48hills.org very carefully), but said he agreed the relocation fee should be raised. Chiu told me he was interested in the idea, but didn’t know enough about it yet.
There will be huge pushback on this one, and we will see which supervisors can be counted on to stick with renters on the tough issues.
Among the other ideas floated out: A tax on vacant apartments to encourage landlords not to hold units off the market; an “excess rent tax;” better monitoring and enforcement of laws against Ellising tenants and then later re-renting the units; banners to mark every building where there’s an Ellis Act eviction; conditional use permits for tenancies in common; and a moratorium on luxury housing construction until the city has built 10,000 new affordable units.
The most popular ideas will be vetted for legal soundness (no point, the organizers said, in putting too much time into something that will never hold up in court) and presented, along with ideas from other neighborhoods, at a citywide tenant convention Feb. 8 (It’s at the SEIU hall, 350 Rhode Island, from 1pm-4pm).
By that time, the Campos bill to reform how San Francisco sets Ellis relocation fees should have been introduced, and a series of other measures will be added to a 2014 tenant agenda. Some may wind up on the ballot – but I think the supervisors are going to have a series of tenant bills, and given the immense pressure from renters who are terrified and fed up, most of a solid tenant agenda could pass.
Malia Cohen, one of the centrist/swing votes, is up for re-election in the fall, and is likely facing a challenge from Potrero Hill activist Tony Kelly, who will be a strong supporter of the tenant agenda. So is Wiener, who at this point lacks a strong announced challenger – but there are a lot of renters in his district, and if he votes against the tenant bills, it will create an opening. Jane Kim, who also has no obvious challenger, is in a heavily renter district.
And, of course, if the mayor were to veto a strong tenant law, it would add considerably to the pressure for a challenger from the left.
I wonder where the tech companies and their political operatives will be on the tenant agenda. Ron Conway has no particular interest in the Ellis Act (does he?), but tech companies are really unpopular these days, in part because the new workers are giving greedy speculators more reason to evict tenants. There’s a chance here to turn some of that attitude around. I wonder if the brilliant entrepreneurs are smart enough to see that.