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Saturday, October 16, 2021

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News + PoliticsAnti-eviction legislation moves forward

Anti-eviction legislation moves forward

Tenant package gets committee approval with Wiener dissenting on a key element

Sup. Jane Kim won approval for a set of eviction-protection laws
Sup. Jane Kim won approval for a set of eviction-protection laws

SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 – The Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee moved forward a set of eviction-protection laws this week, with Sup. Scott Wiener opposed to one critical part.

Sup. Malia Cohen, the committee chair, voted to support the legislation with only minor amendments, an indication that there are probably six votes to approve it at the full board.

It will be an interesting test: Moderate supervisors like Julie Christensen (who is in a tight race against Aaron Peskin) and London Breed (who will likely face a challenge from tenant lawyer Dean Preston next fall) will be under pressure from landlord groups to gut part of the law.

But neither one can afford to be portrayed as anti-tenant right now.

Kim’s package would, among other things, eliminate a lot of “low-fault” nuisance evictions – and would also allow tenants to add roommates as long as the occupancy of the unit doesn’t exceed local codes.

It’s the roommate part that had Wiener disturbed. He argued that allowing new roommates would undermine the ability of landlords to control leases. “What we have here before us eliminates all ability of the landlord to have any control over subtenants,” he said. “This is a major step.”

But Cohen argued that “in this climate, people do need to move in with family and friends.”

Wiener demanded that the legislation be split, and he voted in favor of sending the package – minus the roommate provision – to the full board with a positive recommendation. Kim and Cohen voted to send the entire package to the full board with a Yes recommendation.

The reality is that most of these are pretty common-sense proposals, repairs to a rent law that keeps getting shredded by a few unscrupulous landlords.

But it will still be a major showdown on tenant rights, coming up right in the middle of a contested election season.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. Excellent point, that only buildings built prior to 1979 qualify as rent controlled units. I think they also must be contain more than 4 units, so that narrow the number quite a bit. San Jose is doing something about their exemptions or trying to. Might it be a good time to look at a better deal for both landlords and tenants as we are forced to deal with the new popularity of our city?
    We need a new paradigm if we are going to solve this problem.
    It isn’t enough to just throw money at problems to make them go away. We must come up with a better ways of solving them.
    Time is what the folks in the Mission want and why they want a slowdown in development to figure things out. See our petition and sign it if you agree:
    San Francisco Needs a Better Plan: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/san-francisco-needs-a-1?source=c.em&r_by=14231321

  2. and the way I read the change, it would only allow the LESSER of Housing Code or “2- studio, 3 1BR, 4 for a … ”

    But maybe thats giving them to much credit for being reasonable.

  3. J –
    I think you are mis-reading this ‘additional tenants’ provision. 39.(a)(2)C goes beyond ‘B’ (which is the one that allows ‘family’ members beyond the stated number). ‘C’ says allowed up to the limits in (i) or (ii), so basically 2 to a studio … .

    This is a significant expansion of the law. Thankfully, tenants are then not allowed to host addional AirBnB ‘guests’. Legally, anyway.

  4. Here’s what the building code says: 140 SF of sleeping area for 2 occupants and an additional 50 SF per each additional occupant over 8 years old. Sleeping area is defined as neither kitchen and baths and a room must be over 70 SF. Thus in a 800 SF 2br where 550 SF is sleeping area you would be permitted to have 10 occupants over the age of 8 and I presume as many as you want under.

  5. So none of these Ivy League educated elected officials have a problem with the illegality of the vacancy control provision? Or are they just conveniently expecting the tax payers to pick up the litigation bill when it’s challenged in the courts?

  6. No, Greg, your problem is that I am not a troll. I argue to the point, I give logical reasons for the positions outlined, I remain calm and articulate, and I am never the first to get into a pissing match (although I will fight back).

    In your theoretical world all conservatives are raving hate-mongers of low intelligence. When you encounter those who are clearly intelligent and articulate, you are so in the habit of throwing those stereotypes at them that you do not realize when they do not fit.

    And as for stalking, I am far more stalked than stalking. Marcos, Gary, Olmstead and others will respond with abuse to my every post, even following me across threads and different websites. And yet, as much as I can, I keep speaking my truth.

    You want some cheap characterization that you think will dismiss those whose truth is different from yours, but it doesn’t work. I said before that you debate better than other lefties here. But even you cannot resist the game of making derogatory ascriptions. It’s in the progressive DNA, I guess.

  7. Exactly. I know one person in SF doing exactly that, and a couple others paying it. Renters happen to belong to the same species as landlords, and that species will, generally, extract whatever wealth they can from whatever resources they manage to monopolize.

  8. Right. It’s basically impossible to evict a tenant for something that’s not outrageous so basically this legislation is pointless and just standard tenant pandering.

  9. “(you) reject any actual solutions that are offered.”

    I could say the same.

    Instead of mandating extra occupants beyond what was signed up for, why don’t you consider a modest recompense for the increased costs? But NO, that might actually invovle your side talking to those affected.

    As for the nuisance and Breach “solutions”, I’m still unconvinced that the problem exists (aside from the stats). What stories have we heard? That someone got kicked out for carrying a bike thru the halls? Well, the way I understand these things, and LL must issue a Cure-or-Quit Notice. And the tenant can then contest this at trial. Do you believe an SF jury would side with an LL over a tenant in such a situation? Come on.

    Yet your “solution” – stretching to 10 days to “cure” and calling for the Notice to be issued at the time and date of occurrence – makes it next to impossible to get rid of a serious nuisance – someone who is beyond annoying and is an actual threat. Any outsider would say that that is bad for the prop owner, but also bad for tenants in that bldg, and for the neighbors whose only fault is proximity.

    I guess the ‘solution’ of bad apples in the barrel is the hope that, by keeping the bad ones, eventually the barrel will become so poisoned that the price of apples will fall – damn the quality.

  10. “And for the rest you suggest, what, Stockton?”

    Admittedly, that was a slogan from the last decade, when it might have been possible to flip the renter-owner percents from 66/33 to 33/66. However, that’s impossible now.

    I have no answers for keeping either the hangers on or the useful in town. I do believe, though, that if you left it to the ideal you call the Spirit of San Francisco, there might be some hope. Whats the biggest fear of the owners of most of the desireable bldgs – the small neighborhood bldgs where you’re steps from the street? They want control over who lives in their bldg. And right now they don’t have that.

    I’ve offered to cut the asking rent by half. I just ask that I be able to recover my unit when I want or need it. Unfortunately, that means that someone else can’t have both cheap rent and guaranteed stay. Uncertainty is the risk for bargain prices. Yet we live in one of the most uncertain of locations anywhere – we could be wiped out in 20 seconds by one huge jolt. Ironic.

  11. “Yes, that’s why I want to make it stronger and fix the leaks!”

    When you try to subjugate someone, they inevitably find a way to subvert. The response is typically to ratchet down even further.

    And of course, if your goal posts are continually changing (from “stabilizing” the rents to keeping rents below inflation, to keeping everyone in their homes cuz no where else is cheaper in an increasingly expensive city), then there will be an revenging effort to take what essentially isn’t yours.

    If yours were so great, then take it elsewhere and become the New San Francisco. Instead, the refrain is Return to the 90’s/80s/70’s. Nostalgia – what a platform.

  12. “In other words, you like unions except in the places where they’re still effective.”

    Private industry unions play a naturally antagonistic role – each side vigorously defends its position. Public unions don’t have a fierce adversary — their ‘adversary’ is the public – represented by the politicians, and the politicians are easily coopted. The result is that the unions and pols feed each other in an incestuous manner, and what they feed on is the booty of the taxpayer. Pols & unions make out – taxpayers get screwed. You’ve seen this locally, from the POA to the SEIU.

  13. “Is Sam a troll? Maybe, in the sense of maybe posting too often. ”

    No, this is a straw man argument. The nature of Sam’s trolling has nothing to do with how often he posts. There are a number of disruptive tactics that trolls use, for example:

    Sam regularly employs about half of these. In addition, some of his tactics go beyond merely trolling, and enter cyberstalking territory. The goals are the same -disruption.

    Then he’ll feign ignorance, or employ the indignation technique and claim that progressives call anyone who merely offers a different opinion a troll. No, Pete. Not everyone who offers a different opinion is a troll. Case in point: you.

    Now on to the substance…

    “I used to be a Prog; but was turned away by realizing that the Left often relies upon hyper-emotional invective (generalizing now) and crisis-reactive admonitions.”

    Definitely generalizing. I used to be a libertarian conservative. But I was turned away for the same reasons. Actually, it’s merely a matter of bothering to check facts, and finding that they have a progressive bias.

    “There is something to be said for things like unions (although public employee unions should be curtailed)”

    In other words, you like unions except in the places where they’re still effective. Lovely.

    Well I feel much the same way as you do, except about corporations. I’m pretty moderate, actually. Not calling for communist revolution or anything. I feel there’s a place for corporations, as long as they’re regulated and their power is curtailed. There should be workplace democracy of some sort. one way to do that is what Germany does and require half the board to be elected by the workers. There should be strict rules prohibiting political activity. There should be personal criminal liability when the people in charge of corporations cause the business to act criminally. And there should be a publicly owned alternative whenever possible. Implement enough reforms along those lines, and you may just find that you don’t even need unions.

    “I’d even be in favor of rent control (I was, originally, until I found it leaks”

    Yes, that’s why I want to make it stronger and fix the leaks!

    “the best form of RC is homeownership”
    Indeed it is. It’s a very nice form of rent control for the what, 8%? of San Franciscans who can afford a home at today’s prices. And for the rest you suggest, what, Stockton?

    Seems to me, you’re like a lot of moderates in the city. You claim to want to help those who are struggling in principle, but you find one reason or another to reject any actual solutions that are offered.

  14. The most disturbing part of this legis is in the area of Nuisance revisions. 10 Days to Cure-or-Quit, and having to post the Notice at the actual time of occurrence (try to get a process server out to your place at 3AM on a Sunday morning so that they may or may not catch the whacko spewing threats or the perks crankin’ the music/whatever.

    I find it hard to believe that theres a crescendo of mistaken Nuisance complaints that are actually getting decided in court in the landlords favor (and against an innocent tenant). Come on, do juries do that in SF? I’ve been informed that’s just not possible – though trying to determine the outcome of a jury is a fools-mission. Still, juries are dominated by tenants. It would seem that any half-baked excuse would pass the threshold test of ‘preponderance of the evicence’ and the tenant would be the beneficiary.

    This is bad for LLs of course; but its also bad for neighbors and other tenants.

  15. Section 6.13 currently prevents landlords charging extra for additional tenants. That works because the landlord can currently restrict the number of occupants to the number specified in the lease.

    Kim’s change would abandon that

  16. What kind of headline would that make? “Landlords allowed to raise rent by Supervisors”

    You do understand that “reasonable” has no place in this discussion, don’t you?

  17. Increasing the rent somewhat-proportionally would seem to be the ideal compromise (i.e. – 2BR for $1500/; add one @ $400-600/ – everyone wins) (except maybe the neighbors).

    Funny though how that’s anathema.

  18. It seems reasonable that a landlord would be able to approve or disapprove any subtenant who will be residing in his/her property and raise the rent accordingly if additional adults will be residing therein.

  19. Ok Greg – I see your point about ‘Sam’. And I’ve wondered myself. Picked up on ‘Bobfuss’ right away though.

    Is Sam a troll? Maybe, in the sense of maybe posting too often. But I do find he brings a lot of knowledge to many debates, which has got to be good – especially as many posters seem to be one-line-(plus insult)-assailants.

    I often times find myself agreeing with someone like GaryINSF, but then he’ll go a make some judgmental or vindictive comment, and I’m brought back to reality.

    I used to be a Prog; but was turned away by realizing that the Left often relies upon hyper-emotional invective (generalizing now) and crisis-reactive admonitions. There is something to be said for things like unions (although public employee unions should be curtailed), social security, and of course EPA, Food laws, planning and much more. I’d even be in favor of rent control (I was, originally, until I found it leaks; and that the best form of RC is homeownership) if it was limited, and obeyed the rules about not changing the deal mid-stream.

    So in this instance, if maximizing the occupancy of units is a good thing, lets let it happen *going forward*. I’m sure those who are here will do just fine. And if, by some chance the don’t, then maybe they’ll find a place in one of the new max-occupant units.

    Only then, GaryINSF might start to complain that we’re turning the Haight/SOMA/Mission/Sunset/Marina into the TL. And he would have a good point.

  20. If tenants can add roommates at will do landlords get any extra compensation for the additional wear and tear on their units? And what if the extra roommate added is a nuisance? Just throws more problems on the landlord. Tenants get all the rights in this city.

  21. Fair enough, but would you not agree that Randy Shaw has provided a lot of housing to the less fortunate in our city?

    Shouldn’t that count for something, and perhaps for more than mere ideological correctness?

  22. David Chiu claims to be a progressive and a supporter of rent control too. So does Ed Lee for that matter. Anyone can claim anything, but actions speak louder than words.

  23. What are you talking about? Seems to me that Wiener has done a lot more practical things to help the non-rich people in the City than most supervisors. Micro units. In-law units. Speeding up the process for affordable housing projects, density bonuses, notice requirements. Not to mention that he is on-board with the rest of Kim’s proposals. Sheesh.
    Pray tell, what are Avalos’s contributions to making things easier for people in SF? Mar’s? Campos?

  24. Broadly I’d agree although there are some situation where that can and should happen. An example would be where you rent to a single person. Later they marry and the spouse can move in. Then some children are born and, again, it is reasonable that a family be allowed to live together.

    Wear and tear is increased and cannot be subtracted from the security deposit. However, most landlords would remodel after tenants move out anyway, to make the unit more attractive, thereby getting a better rent and, hopefully, a better class of tenant

  25. Andy, many landlords would not want subsequent sub-tenants on the lease as that would mean that they could not raise the rent to market when the last original tenant moves out.

    In any event, the sub-tenant is assumed to have agreed to the lease, and typically a 6.14 notice is issued to reserve the landlord’s right to raise to market later.

  26. I think a fair compromise on the roommate issue is to allow tenants to add roommates, but those roommates must be added to the lease with the caveat that landlord can’t deny a roommate addition. This would allow the addition of roommates, allow landlords to know who was living in their building, and prevent so called “master tenants” from secretly making income off their unit.

  27. (Different Greg)
    Allowing additional tenants is a terrible idea. One for one replacement is already allowed. If I want to lease a 2BR place to only 2 people, I should be allowed to do that. The tenant shouldn’t have a right to then move in as many people are legally allowed. The price we agreed to in the lease was for 2 people, not 4! Additional tenants cause more wear and tear, more noise, more water use (which is almost never individually metered).

    In many cases, landlords in this town live in the same building and want some control over how many people are living in their building. But go ahead and keep making it harder for landlords. Push all the small mom and pop operations to get out of the business all together. The only people left in the business will be the big nasty slumlord owners.

  28. There are a lot of posters here who would behave differently in public. Would marcos call everyone who disagrees with him an asshole in person? Well, maybe, but I doubt it.

    Anyway, it is not sociopathic to promote political opinions in any event, and mine are hardly right-wing by the standard of most of this nation. I’m a registered Democrat who voted for Obama.

    I’ll give you a little credit in that you tend to debate the issues rather the person for the most part. Although your over-use and mis-use of the word “troll” isn’t helpful. You and I have less need of ad hominem comments because we can both debate well and articulately. Sadly the same isn’t true of a number of others here whose quickly resort to insults when their arguments are trumped.

  29. No, ignoring a regulation would be breaking it anyway and trying to hide the fact. By applying for a variance the developer is acknowledging the default regulation but seeking to demonstrate why there should be an exception granted.

    Any planning code that seeks to apply to all buildings will, by its very nature, be general in nature, overly broad and will not allow for individual circumstances. That is why the planning process regards variance as normal and desirable. Regulations and variances are two sides of the same coin.

    In reality all developments beyond a certain size will have variances granted.

  30. Not necessarily. 8 Washington was code compliant until Planning asked them to re-design the building and exceed the height limits.

  31. That comment must be tongue-in-cheek, because I know you’re aware that Randy Shaw is a city-funded slumlord whose bread is buttered by the City Family.

  32. Thanks for sharing your “take” on the subject. I don’t quite believe every word of it, but it’s *more* candid than your usual response, at least in one important way. I suppose it’s the best I could ask for under the circumstances.
    Funny, I have a hunch that if I met you in a social setting, you wouldn’t come across as the one-dimensional sociopath of your online persona. Well all right then. I suppose I should let you get back to your, um… work.

  33. Sadly a small number of people disobey Tim’s request for civility here, and personally attack anyone who has the temerity to advance a different viewpoint. Some progressives are sadly intolerant of diversity.

    Changing handles throws them off the scent for a while and discourages such stalking. As the bad actors become aware, a change of handle is prudent so that Tim’s civility imperative can be maintained.

    Tim was clear that he is OK with people using different names as long as they only use one name at a time, which I do. I notice that marcos also changed his handle here. Did you ask him the same question?

  34. Neighborhoods with abandoned, derelict homes tend to be quite affordable. Is the logic now that developing small units will lead to abandoned, derelict homes? Whyever so?

  35. Yes, in a sense this is a little like the Airbnb issue. If master tenants can move anyone they want into a unit then there is a risk that a building will have more turnover, more residents and potentially more problems as a result.

    Given that a landlord cannot prevent replacement roommates or family members moving in anyway, I am not clear about why this is an important tenant protection.

  36. I’m not sure if I follow your logic. So when these new studios are abandoned and derelict, they will make the neighborhood affordable?

  37. Leaving aside that gloss on the history of the neighborhood, we’re back to the old, affordable Tenderloin. What was wrong with the old, affordable Tenderloin? Isn’t an affordable shoebox better than a park bench or Greyhound ticket?

  38. I should state that as a tenant, I’m not necessarily keen on having ‘new roommates’ in other units the building because it is a crap-shoot.

    But if it will prevent someone from being displaced, I fully support it.

  39. You “recall?” I don’t recall any “bobfuss” here until recently, or is “bobfuss” just the latest incarnation of “Sam?” Have “Siddle” and “HotToddy” worn out their welcomes already?

    What’s with the constant handle changing, anyway? Here’s my theory: you repeat the same talking points so much that in very short order, people just get tired of it and start to skip over anything you say, or else call you out for being a troll, making your commentary ineffective. So you change your handle every few days to create the impression of new commentators, sometimes using multiple handles at a time for the same purpose.

    But I’m legitimately curious. If that’s not it, then why? I legitimately want to know. What is it that makes you do this?

  40. ‘[M]ade’ was past tense, like the old Market Street ‘Slot’.

    What is the logic: the ‘Loin is no longer affordable, therefore small units are anathema because they are not cheap enough?

  41. The state’s Costa-Hawkins law addresses roommates in part. In response the city had to change section 6.14 of the rent ordinance rules and regs to state that, in a revolving roommate situation, the landlord can raise the rent to market when the last original tenant moves out.

    Costa-Hawkins prevents the situation that existed prior to 1996 where a flat could have an endless succession of roommates who had not signed any lease, and so the landlord would never get a vacancy. And so could never again get a market rent. It was de facto vacancy control for shared units.

    I am not aware that Costa-Hawkins addresses the number of occupants, so Kim’s change may be OK in terms of state law. I’d assume so since she surely would have checked that.

  42. All I know is the last time we built small units for workers, it turned into the Tenderloin once the workers move-on.

    History repeating. Not many people want to live in a shoe-box long term.

    And seriously, SOMA isn’t all that great.

  43. I accept that this is about the rent ordinance. As I am not a landlord who tries to avoid laws, I’m not as knowledgeable as you about these things.

    Does the State law that preempts rent control for post 1979 buildings also prohibit the BOS from making a law about roommates?

  44. Most “illegal” in-law units are also small. As are many studios. And they are the most affordable homes in the city. It’s not clear why Gary opposes them, especially since he claims to want to see SF house 1.5 million people.

  45. Sure, or the old, pre-urban renewal South of the Slot. The rich availability of small units made those neighborhoods affordable.

    What’s wrong with affordable neighborhoods?

  46. Of course these are changes to the rent ordinance. That is where the city’s rules for evictions and roommates are defined.

    Which law did you think it was?

  47. It’s complicated. The ordinance has changed on this a few times, and Costa-Hawkins addresses it too, so the city isn’t free to do whatever it wants on this.

    Generally speaking it is OK to replace a roommate but not OK to add roommates if that would take the occupancy above the limit as specified by the lease.

    A landlord can ask the new tenant to complete an application but can reject the applicant only for good reason.

    Also new roommates do not have the right of the original tenant so, if that original tenant leaves, the landlord can raise the rent to market.

    Kim’s change would allow two occupants per room regardless of the limit specified in the lease. There may be a conflict with Costa-Hawkins but I am not certain.

    Of course a landlord may not care if you add a roomate. That may be the case with you. I seem to recall that you rent a non-controlled unit anyway.

  48. There’s nothing in Tim’s article that indicated it this is about the rent ordinance. But thanks for the “hint.”

  49. I’m not sure how much control the lease has right now over adding new roommates. I thought legislation authored by Matt Gonzalez took care of that years ago. I actually used it. I simply informed my landlord that I was adding someone to the lease, and he had no say in it. Which is how it should be. Landlords shouldn’t have a say in their tenants’ personal relationships.

    I don’t think there will be much rent gouging going on, because most of the people moving in this way will be family and friends of the master tenant. However, I would support rent controls on the rents that can be charged to these new roommates. If you want to stop rent gouging, it would make much more sense to allow roommates in exchange for new rent controls instead of allowing roommates in exchange for *higher* rent!

    If you claim that tenants *will* rent gouge, then your “reasonable compromise” essentially translates to:
    “We should allow landlords to rent gouge in exchange for allowing tenants to rent gouge.” That’s why I said it makes no sense.

  50. Right now the ability to rent gouge is limited because the number of occupants is limited to the number allowed by the original lease.

    Clearly if that number can be doubled, then the scope to rent gouge will be doubled. In fact, more than doubled because newer tenants will pay higher rents.

    Do you support rent gouging? The Tenant’s Union opposes it.

  51. So they can rent gouge more? Your post makes no sense ….at least not if taken at face value. As a landlord shill, it makes perfect sense.

  52. I suspect what will happen if tenants are allowed to have more roommates is that they will rent gouge.

    So a guy paying $1,000 for a 3-BR will take on two roommates and charge them $1,000 a month each.

    In theory that is not allowed under the rent ordinance but there is zero enforcement.

    A reasonable compromise would be to allow more roommates in return for a higher total rent.

  53. A good start would be understanding which law you would have to change to make that happen.

    Hint – it’s not the rent ordinance.

    The point is that, whatever Kim’s reasons for her roommate change, it is not to help tenants deal with “obscene rent increases” because they can’t happen under rent control anyway.

  54. What regulations have developers ignored? What sites are “inappropriate” and why? As far as the “ugly” comment goes, well, that’s just an opinion.

  55. Gary, the proposed legislation changes the rent ordinance and its scope would therefore only effect controlled tenancies. It has no effect on people in non-controlled rentals.

    For non-controlled tenancies a roommate can still be adde,d with landlord permission.

    The city cannot bring non-controlled units into rent control because of state law.

  56. Between 65,000 and 70,000 rental units are not covered by rent control in San Francisco. Everything newly built since 1979 is exempt, so all new development free from rent control. Also, with Ellis and TICs, the pool of rent control units also falls each year.

    And even when a unit is covered by rent control, there are ways around it:

    “Longtime Rent-Control Tenant Shocked to Discover $6,700 Rent Hike Is Totally Legal”


  57. Good point on relaxing roommate restrictions . Many people are finding they need help paying the rent these days and many people need a couch to sleep on. This law should solve at least part of the homeless problem. Now we need a good samaritan law to protect landlords from getting stuck with bad tenants. The problem cuts both ways.

  58. We allow well-connected developers to ignore regulations, build ugly buildings in on inappropriate sites with shoebox-sized units and not pay for the impact on transit and other infrastructure because of ‘the housing crisis’ and Wiener supports all that.

    But “crisis legislation” only pertains to moneyed-interests in Wiener’s world. Allowing people/families to take on roommates to pay for obscene rent increases in order to avoid displacement because of ‘the housing crisis’ is something he can’t support and that he tried to throttle. Because if you aren’t rich Wiener has no regard for you or your well-being.

    Maybe we need a new district to make it easier for politicians who are bought and sold and have little regard for the citizens they represent. We can call that district Trumpville.

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