By Tim Redmond
Sup. David Campos announced a bill today that would substantially increase relocation fees for tenants at a press event featuring three heart-rending (and all-too typical) stories of tenants whose lives and communities are being shattered by the Ellis Act.
The measure would mandate that landlords who want to file Ellis Act evictions pay their tenants the difference between the existing rent on that unit and market rent for a comparable unit in the same neighborhood, for two years. In some cases, where tenants have been living for decades in rent-controlled units, the fee could be substantial – and could help an evicted tenant remain in the city.
The law wouldn’t, by itself, solve the Ellis problem, but tenant activists say it would give longtime residents a fighting chance to avoid being forced out of town. “It’s a band-aide,” Theresa Flandrich, a nurse who is losing her home of 30 years in North Beach, said. “But when you’re bleeding, you need a band-aid.”
The measure has won strong support from tenants meeting in neighborhood conventions, and it’s something I’ve been writing about for months. (I got the original tip from Potrero Hill activist Tony Kelly, who told me to check out the way the federal government does relocation fees. Under federal law, tenants forced out by eminent domain are entitled to the difference between their current rent and market rent for as much as four years.)
“Frankly,” Campos said at a press conference in his office, “This is something we should have done a long time ago.” The idea, he explained, is to help tenants who have been evicted stay in their communities, “to mitigate the displacement.” (more after the jump)