At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, two measures drawn up by Supervisor John Avalos aimed at increasing and preserving the city's stock of rental apartments passed unanimously on initial vote. One measure eases up zoning planning-code restrictions that have kept approximately 52,000 existing units in legal limbo, many of them unoccupied. The second measure makes it illegal for property owners to merge or demolish any rental units for ten years following an eviction.

A separate measure introduced by Supervisor David Campos also passed which will give top priority to Ellis Act-evicted tenants in placement in publicly funded housing. Given the dearth in availability of such housing, this feels like an empty measure, but perhaps not.

Avalos's measures, as the Chron reports, make things both easier and more difficult for owners of rental property, depending on their situation. There are a number of livable spaces that have been kept empty and off of the market because planning codes and zoning code governing density have kept their owners in legal battles with the city over the units' legality. The first measure will clear the hurdles for these owners to alter or upgrade those units and get them occupied. One property owner on Twin Peaks claimed she'd spent a "fortune" fighting the city over two of the four units she owns, and they've been kept empty the entire time.

The second, more controversial measure is aimed at discouraging evictions for the purpose of real estate speculation. It would make it illegal, even in the case of owner move-ins, to merge multiple units into a single family home, demolish rental property, or convert a residential rental into a commercial unit for a period of ten years after an eviction. There is a possibility that Avalos will compromise and allow owner move-in situations an exemption after five years.

Both measures need a second vote next week, and will likely then get the Mayor's approval.

[SF Public Press]