Supes asked to allow condos where centenarian was evicted

Landlord who tossed out Iris Canada still wants the city to give him a lucrative permit. Plus: How does SF respond to sexual assault? That's The Agenda for April 23-29

The owners of a Page Street building who evicted a centenarian who died shortly after losing her home are asking the Board of Supes to overturn a decision denying them the right to turn the building into condos.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject a condo conversion permit for 670 Page St., where Iris Canada had lived. The commissioners agreed that the application was inaccurate because it had listed no evictions at the site.

Iris Canada died shortly after being evicted

The city doesn’t allow condo conversions for property where seniors have been evicted.

The case received significant news media attention, but somehow, Planning Department staff never notice that the application was faulty. It took an organizing effort by tenant groups to explain to the commission what had actually happened.

Peter Owens bought the building in 2002, and promptly filed Ellis Act eviction notices for all ten of the existing tenants. He planned to flip the units as tenancies in common, making a tidy profit in the process.

Then he could apply for a condo conversion permit, increasing the value of all of the units.

But Canada fought the Ellis eviction, and to settle that case and avoid the problems associated with tossing out a woman who at that point was 85, he agreed to allow her to live in her home for the rest of her life.

But as a resident with a “life estate” stake in the building, she would have to agree to the condo conversion, which could have meant the end of her tenancy. When she refused, Owens got the sheriff to lock her out.

He argued in court that she wasn’t actually living in the unit; she said she was, and reporters who visited her there found every indication that she was a regular inhabitant.

But that doesn’t matter: She was evicted. At this point, the Planning Commission and the Department of Building Inspection are clear: The building is not eligible for conversion.

And yet, the supervisors will hear once again from Owens’ lawyers and probably from him and his neighbors, who will say they just want the ownership rights that come from a condo conversion.

The item’s at 3pm, at the Board Chambers.

San Francisco is a progressive city with a lot of good people working in the public sector, but the way that the city responds to the survivors of sexual assault is more than a little troubling. As Bianca Rosen reported in 48hills last July,

In 2016, the vast majority of adult sexual assaults in San Francisco went uninvestigated or prosecuted. According to a list I generated through SF Open Data, there were 757 reports of adult sexual assault that year. When I asked the Police Department directly, the number they gave me was 694.

But even using SFPD’s number, out of the 694 reports of adult sexual assault, 297 — or 43 percent — were investigated, 91 — or 13 percent — were referred to the D.A.’s office, 11 adult and child sexual assault cases, or 1.6 percent, went to trial, and nine, or 1.3 percent, resulted in a guilty verdict. These numbers are staggering but sadly typical in terms of historical patterns and trends that persist across the country.

The Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee will hold a hearing on the issue Wed/25 at 10 am in Committee Room 263.

There are seven affordable housing projects approved for District 9, which has been ground zero for evictions and gentrification, and none of them have begun construction. Sup. Hillary Ronen has asked for a hearing to figure out what the delays are; that’s at the Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday/23. 

The state Legislature, which is seriously in hock to the real-estate industry, has refused to allow cities to enact effective rent control – that is, rent control that remains in place when a tenant vacates an apartment. The Costa-Hawkins Act, one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation to come out of Sacramento in the past 30 years, guarantees that landlords will have an incentive to evict long-term tenants and is probably responsible for a significant number of the homeless people on the streets today.

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, with the financial support of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has apparently gathered enough signatures to place the repeal of Costa Hawkins on the November ballot. It’s a risky move, as these ballot measures often are; if the tens of millions of dollars from the landlords swamps the initiative and it loses badly, efforts to repeal Costa Hawkins in the Legislature will be set back years.

But if it succeeds, tens of thousands of Californians will be more secure in their homes.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti supports the measure, and will appear at a rally in LA.

In Oakland, tenants will meet at noon at City Hall Monday/23to rally and turn in signatures.

If you’ve read this far, then you care about 48hills! Come support us at our Fifth Anniversary Gala May 1 at the Mission Cultural Center. All of the info is here.