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Friday, June 18, 2021

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UncategorizedTenants explain why Campos bill is needed

Tenants explain why Campos bill is needed

Already, the opposition is emerging: The San Francisco Apartment Association’s Janan New told the Chronicle that

many middle-class people use the Ellis Act simply because they want to move into a building they bought. Campos’ proposal, she said, needs to include some sorts of means testing for tenants – “otherwise it’s just clear theft.”

The problem with New’s analysis is that it doesn’t fit the facts. For starters, nobody need to use the Ellis Act to move into a building they just bought; owner move-in evictions are legal already. And in every case I’ve seen, and the vast majority of the cases that tenant lawyers are seeing, the evictions are done by speculators who are buying and flipping buildings. Many don’t live anywhere near San Francisco.

Joshua Stein is losing his home in the Haight

Witness the story of Joshua Stein, who has lived in the Haight for 23 years. He and his wife are both professionals – he’s an audio-visual tech worker at UC Berkeley and “we’re not poor” – but there’s no way they can afford a market-rate one-bedroom unit in San Francisco. “I think we’ll have to leave the city,” he said.

His landlord bought the building less than a year ago, and is trying to clear out all the tenants. “We even asked them if we could buy our unit, but they wouldn’t even listen to us. I know they’re going to sell for far more than we could pay.”

Rosemarie Guiton-Diaz, 61, is a second-generation San Franciscan who has lived in her Mission District apartment for 17 years. “The Mission has been my home and my community,” she said. She lives in a flat with her husband, and her cousin, who has been in the building 20 years, lives downstairs. Together, she said, they have maintained the building – put in new carpets, painted, created a tropical landscape in the back yard – and their longtime landlord respected and liked them and kept the rent reasonable.

“I went to Mission High, I raised my daughter here, and with my family all in the same building, we could take care of each other,” she said.

Shortly after her landlord died, the Ellis eviction threat came. “I think her son wants to move in,” she said of the new owner. “With all the restaurants and things, it’s a ‘scene’ for them. But it’s not a scene for me; it’s where I live.”

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Rosemarie Guiton-Diaz is getting forced out of the Mission

Guiton-Diaz doesn’t own a car. She works at a consignment store in Bernal Heights and takes the bus. If she’s forced to leave town, she said, she’ll have to buy a car. (That’s exactly what the “smart growth” folks want to avoid – but as long as the Ellis Act forces San Franciscans out, the environmental impacts of displacement will be serious.)

Theresa Flandrich is part of the tradition of the old North Beach. She’s lived there for 30 years, raised her son there, and worked as a nurse at the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center. She would visit seniors in their homes on the weekends to do blood-pressure checks and administer medicine. “We help our neighbors,” she said. “It’s a little community.”

In fact, when her former landlady was sick and dying, she took care of her. The corner grocer delivered food and Flandrich arranged for doctors to make house calls. After the woman died at 96, a relative in Los Angeles got the building, the Ellis Act notice arrived.

“There are 21 Ellis Act evictions just on our one block of Lombard Street,” she said. “A severely disabled elderly woman was evicted. One friend told me eviction was a death sentence for him, he has nowhere to go.”

Theresa Flandrich says the evictions are devastating the North Beach community

Ted Gullicksen, who runs the Tenants Union, noted that Ellis Act evictions are up 200 percent from a year ago. Maria Zamudio, an organizer with Causa Justa, noted that “people who have invested for so long in their neighborhood, in their communities, that investment has been minimized and dismissed.”

Campos said that he and the City Attorney’s Office have been working for a long time on the bill, and he’s convinced it will pass legal muster. The city can’t overturn or block the Ellis Act, but this bill isn’t aimed at ending evictions (that has to be done in Sacramento.)

“We have an interest in helping people stay in their community,” he said. The current statutory relocation fee – about $5,000 – is not only absurdly low, but is somewhat random, Campos explained: “How long a tenant has been in a unit is relevant. This is more consistent than picking an arbitrary number.”

The landlords will howl, but I would be shocked if this didn’t get six votes – and could the mayor even consider vetoing something like this, at a time of the worst housing crisis in half a century?

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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  1. The displacement of people especially seniors is wrong. I am witness to a 98 year old living in San Francisco that received a Life Time Estate in Lui of being Ellis Acted out on the streets. In a six unit building that converted to TIC. At 88 years she had to purchase the Life Estate for $250k for her unit however the property reverts back to the owner in the event of her death. The life Est. document is a recorded deed which gives her the right to live in her apt until she dies, however it stipulates she must live alone and be responsible for all of her own repairs and maintenance, leaking ceiling, cracks in the walls, popcorn asbestos ceiling…..in other words code violations up the yang. She signed in under fear that she would be put on the streets. Now that the owners have a chance to to fast track to condo conversation they have decided to foreclose on the Life Estate, suing her for the remainder 171K , she is 98 years of age has never missed a payment and has lived in her apt since 1965. By law they did not and did not have to give her first rights of refusal although the owners backed with all of the TIC purchases in the other 5 apts the other tenants have the luxury of ownership for their monthly payments, however the senior is being displaced and sued, suggesting her apt has fallen into disrepair, needless to say this will severely impact her health. This type of personal greed saddens me and is completely wrong in every way.

  2. Why not use the City’s first time homebuyers program as downpayment assistance for existing long time tenants and cap the monthly payment close to the existing rent to create a fair playing field while adding new opportunities for homeownership .

  3. NO, Tim, I am not reading the comments section to your blog. I did when I first started to follow you but there are a couple of people whose inane right wing comments are so ridiculous that I just gave up. And they seem to have an incredible amount of time on their hands. I’d rather just read what you write.

  4. David Campos already pretty much said that it is a matter of looking over the property owners shoulder, counting his money on the table, (with covetous eyes and a heart full of envy), and then grabbing all that you can, with the assistance of political people like Campos, of course. What a property owner obtains from the sale of his or her property is none of his tenants damn business. You ever hire an employee who is far less concerned about their weekly pay check than they are interested in what is inside of the cash register and how much the store owner is making, where he is living and what kind of car he is driving? That is the kind of thinking that is going on in the Board of Supervisors. You kick an employee like that to the curb, owing to their envy and resentment, before they can damage your economic interests.

  5. as it stand now when a unit is deeply rent controlled, [ lest than 1/3 of the going rate] it is nearly impossible for a landlord to improve the property and get compensated in less than 10-15 years in other words never.

  6. You mentioned that owner-move-in evictions are unrestricted, but in Ms Diaz’s example, she’s trying to prevent the new owner (the original owner’s son) from moving in. Please clarify which is the case, since this is an important point! Thank you!

  7. The fee us an interesting idea, but there are other remedies, some of which fortunately have already become law. David Chiu’s efforts to put a 10 year moratorium on condo conversions would be a help as well as the legislation he passed to give priority in affordable housing to Ellis Act evictees. Personally, I think the Ellis Act needs major revisions if not total abolishment. Important is for the tenants to have a viable voice, fair rent and security, and for landlords to have the means to maintain buildings to be stable and safe.

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