We told you last week that Supervisor David Campos is pushing the City Attorney to draft legislation that would create a greater disincentive to landlords considering Ellis Act evictions. Yesterday Campos held a hearing at the Board's neighborhood services and safety committee and brought in some tenants who've been displaced to speak. Also yesterday we heard more from Mayor Ed Lee who is leading his own charge against the Ellis Act, and he wants to do something similar to discourage evictions.
"We’re fighting, I think, for the soul of San Francisco,” says Campos, adding that the issue of these evictions is "a crisis that goes to the very question of who we are as a city."
The plan outlined by Campos's office last week was to double the sum that landlords are now required to give tenants as relocation allowances from $5,000 to $10,000, but according to a piece in yesterday's Chron that number may still be up for debate (no exact figure was given there).
Lee's plan is still a bit vague, but he's working with State Senator Mark Leno to draft a proposal, and Leno's already voiced his issues with the Ellis Act over the last decade. As the Chron reports, the idea is similar to Campos's in that they want to make Ellis Act evictions more expensive and difficult for landlords, and, "Options include requiring additional permits or hearings or placing limits on the sale and resale of a property after an Ellis Act eviction." But, of course, because this is Ed Lee we're talking about, they're first going to "get consensus among legislators, tenant advocates, business groups and real estate interests."
It's still important that Lee is on board with some kind of change, saying publicly, "While we have some of the best tenant protections in the country, there are a small number of speculators out there who are turning a quick profit at the expense of long time tenants."
So, we'll see whose plan makes it into law first. Meanwhile, many a critic and commenter has already pointed out that the current eviction crisis would not likely be happening were it not for rent control, because in a heated market like this it becomes harder and harder for landlords to stomach (or afford) keeping rents so far below market rate when they could just cash out and sell the property as condos or TICs. That's clearly what happened in the case of 1100 Sacramento where at least a third of the building was paying cheap rents (we don't have any figures) under rent control, while others were paying up to $10K a month. Now the building's getting sold as TICs, 33 units in fact, making it the biggest TIC in town, and 10 tenants remain to be evicted or bought out.