“Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced legislation Tuesday that would make it more difficult to evict tenants and then build a car garage, and also change the number of parking spaces allowed per dwelling unit in San Francisco’s northeast neighborhoods [to be in line with the rules developed in the Market-Octavia plan].”
“The legislation would require anyone who wants to build a parking garage and who evicted tenants using the Ellis Act to have to obtain a special permit to build the garage. The permit would require public hearings and would be appealable to the Board of Supervisors.”
Chiu seeks new car garage, parking controls [San Francisco Examiner]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by sf

    Odd. If you want to elevate housing over parking as a policy goal, why discriminate on some procedural basis? A determined owner/developer can usually work around the Ellis Act, and whatever your feelings are about the Act, using it in what are effectively single-family housing situations seems to me to be one of the more sensible applications of the law.

  2. Posted by huh

    thank you David Chiu. A good piece of legislation.
    @sf: there’s no reason to use the Ellis Act in a “single family housing situation” because if there’s only one unit, owner can invoke an owner-move-in in the house.

  3. Posted by Mole Man

    The only way to address housing problems is to make it easier to build what is acceptable. Adding more specific rules and checks pertaining to what is not acceptable is going to make things worse by making development that much more difficult overall.

  4. Posted by cerky

    You cannot owner move in if the tenant is protected.
    This is a crap piece of legislation, just like almost all rent control strengthening legislation passed by this city.

  5. Posted by sleeoiguy

    The legislation is aimed at tenants of basement units and in-laws (i.e. multi-unit buildings) and is designed to punish the “new owners” he refers to for being dumb enough to actually buy something with a tenant. Exactly how many people have been evicted because of a garage addition? Chiu states “almost a half of all permit applications” involved an Ellis act. Is this REALLY a rampant problem in the city? I saw far more people being Ellis’ed to create TICs than garages.

  6. Posted by Trip

    This action is not to solve a real problem or to do anything to affect housing one way or the other. It is pure political grandstanding to appeal to tenants generally, who comprise the majority of SF residents (and voters).
    The Ellis Act is a legal, orderly process. The supes may not like the law, but it is the law, and they can lobby Sacramento to change it if they don’t like it. All this legislation would do is encourage owners to engage in various self-help measures outside of the legal process to “persuade” tenants to leave.

  7. Posted by sf

    What I meant by “effectively single-family housing situations” is that there’s a single family home, and a small in-law type unit, usually part of the primary structure in the basement/lower-level, occasionally in a small separate structure in the backyard. That’s my understanding at least. This arrangement functions as a single family home not as an apartment building, and a good number of in-law units are not rented as owners use them as guest rooms or storage. However, because there are technically two separate units (basically the “house” and a small often attached room with a separate entrance) I don’t think an owner could do an OMI as someone else already mentioned.

  8. Posted by New to SF

    I moved to US 6 years ago and it is my 3rd year living in SF. This news makes me finally raise a question that I have been wondering for quite some times.
    Below is my understanding how private property usually works out in this country of freedom.
    1.you buy a property with your own money and it becomes all yours.
    2.You want to change something to a part of your property and there is a tenant living in that part.
    3.You wait until lease with the tenant expires and tell the tenant you no longer want to extend lease.
    4.Tenant moves out and you make a necessary change of your property.
    5.You end up spending tons of money and are satisfied or regretfull with the change you made.
    I do understand that you need some permissions from the city related to such as zoning, overall city planning..etc..
    This article makes me think that freedom of your own private property is still not free in US and, to me, it is very strange because I notice that freedom is very important value to Americans.
    Am I still too new to SF(or US) to understand the new legislation of David Chiu?
    Or, am I simply dumb?

  9. Posted by anonn

    SF is not equivalent to US, New. I’m getting pretty tired of the way this city works. For the first time I’m contemplating leaving. Maybe because I just got back from Spain and it was awesome.
    And sf, yeah, I knew what you meant in the first place. This is indeed one of the more sensical/necessary reasons to invoke the Ellis Act. Owners can run into difficulty trying to use OMI. There’s a discrepancy between the city’s interpretation and that of the rent board. Unwarranted in-law denizens can potentially throw the rent board book at unwary owners. Better to Ellis, there.

  10. Posted by Julie Peisner

    Wow, what’s next…build the garage and then have to offer free parking for life to the tenant you evicted? Are you sure Chris Daly isn’t responsible for this?

  11. Posted by tipster

    “All this legislation would do is encourage owners to engage in various self-help measures outside of the legal process to “persuade” tenants to leave.”
    Actually, the old owners rarely do anything. What this does is prevent starry eyed amateur developers from buying properties, kicking the tenant out, and then reducing the rental housing stock in a city that never has enough of it.
    Instead, the starry eyed amateur developers will not outbid someone who is willing to live with the status quo, who is now able to buy the place and can afford to leave it as is. The outgoing owner will make an immense fortune on the sale instead of an even larger fortune on the sale, and the incoming owner will get a deal that allows him to afford the status quo, and the city will not lose a rental unit.
    The realtor takes a smaller fee. They can no longer note :TENANT ON MONTH TO MONTH STATUS!!!! as if it’s easy to toss them and immediately add $100K to the value of the property for which the seller now wants an extra $100K and so the amateur developer wasn’t really going to get anything anyway. That’s who really gets pissed off at this – the realtors. That EZ money approach by the realtors gets crimped.
    Otherwise, the city loses more and more affordable housing.
    So with this legislation, everyone really wins except the Realtors. Trust me, they’ll live.
    In any city, one trades the perpetual opportunity to convert your property into its highest and best use for the right to live in a city in which other owners are also restricted. You can always make more money by converting your residence into a retail store, but we aren’t going to allow apartment 314 to become a butcher shop just because your realtor can get a higher commission by selling it to someone who is willing to do that. That’s how it is. Get used to it.

  12. Posted by sparky-b

    Couldn’t disagree more, with you tipster. As a developer, the agent pay rubs me the other way. They don’t care too much if the sale is $1.6M or $1.8M, they are making $32K or $36K so they would rather just get the deal done. On the buy side it’s the same. $900K with a tenant for $18K, or $1M and $20K for an Ellis. They don’t care about that.
    The family who decides they do need a garage after all once the kids are in Swimming, Ballet, Soccer, Gymnastics, and Music are the ones who will care.

  13. Posted by zzzzzzz

    It continually amazes me how much time, energy and angst gets devoted to local attempts at limiting the Ellis Act. After all, at most we’re talking on the order of several hundred units a year in a city with ~200,000 rental units – not even a drop in the bucket. The comment above about political grandstanding is well-taken.

  14. Posted by ex SF-er

    New to SF:
    San Francisco real estate laws are some of the most strict and often poorly thought out in the nation. They are complex and very difficult to understand. Few places have laws like SF.
    —-
    overall, I wish that SF would simply loosen building restrictions across the board. This would increase housing units across the city, lowering prices significantly.
    the city continually comes up with more and more ways to restrict housing supply… and then is surprised when there is a housing crunch. then they come up with a “solution” to the housing crunch that they engineered in the first place.
    Surprisingly, they decided to allow some condo building in certain parts of the city. and you know what? housing prices are falling in those areas to more affordable levels (of course some people see those falling valuations as a catastrophe… evidently paying 50% or more of your income on mortgage/rent is a good thing).
    You wanna make housing more affordable in the city? Raise height limits and loosen renovation/building restrictions.
    If you built 300,000 more units in the city then prices would fall. voila… affordable housing.
    (of course they won’t do that, partly because the current owners would feel hosed as their housing values plummeted…)

  15. Posted by FormerAptBroker

    New to SF wrote:
    > I moved to US 6 years ago and it is my 3rd year living in SF.
    A belated welcome to SF…
    > Below is my understanding how private property usually
    > works out in this country of freedom.
    This is a country may have more freedom than others, but there are quite a few limits (like my parents could not get the OK to build a wood shed on their 1 acre property on the Peninsula and I can’t put a folding stock on my Ruger 10/22…
    > 1.you buy a property with your own money and it becomes all yours.
    Yes, but subject to probably close to one million limitations (don’t try and do something crazy like I did and park an unregistered 1968 BMW 2002 in the driveway of your Peninsula home)…
    > 2.You want to change something to a part of your property and
    > there is a tenant living in that part.
    You will probably wait until the tenant dies if the property is in SF and the tenant has low rent control protected rent.
    > 3.You wait until lease with the tenant expires and tell the tenant
    > you no longer want to extend lease.
    In SF the tenant can stay as long as they want to unless you Ellis the unit (but then you can’t rent it to anyone else).
    > 4.Tenant moves out and you make a necessary change of your property.
    In SF you will probably need to give the tenant thousands in cash to get them to move out.
    > 5.You end up spending tons of money and are satisfied or
    > regretful with the change you made.
    > I do understand that you need some permissions from the city
    > related to such as zoning, overall city planning..etc..
    You not only have to make the city happy, but make all the politically connected neighbors who can hold up the project happy.
    Steve Jobs (the politically connected Billionaire spent over 10 years and quite a bit of money to finally get the OK to tear down a home he owns in Woodside (and since it is still standing it might be another 10 years before he actually has a new home on the site). I had the chance to buy a few acres in prime lower Woodside (not far from Steve Jobs’ house on Mountain Home) but I passed since I knew that I would go broke before I ever got the OK to build a home on the site…
    > This article makes me think that freedom of your own private property
    > is still not free in US and, to me, it is very strange because I notice that
    > freedom is very important value to Americans.
    I hate both political parties and think that all people should be free to do whatever they want like evict a tenant that is a pain in the ass (the Democrats in California do not want you to do this) smoke pot (the Republicans in California do not want you to do this). The Democrats want gays to be free to get married and the Republicans want people to be free to own an assault rifle and both sides don’t get that are basically saying “we don’t like freedom, we want to cram our own views in to the face of others” and so the rebate goes on weather we let people pray in school or weather we let teachers tell kids that their gay friends are not going to hell…
    If you want to do whatever you want to a piece of property to not buy anything in California…

  16. Posted by Dede

    This is grand standing and as other commentors have suggested, anti-family. With one side of the mouth Chiu speaks pro-family, with the other…
    For eviction statistics I present:
    http://www.sfgov.org/site/rentboard_page.asp?id=6014
    Note that relatively small amount of Ellis Act evictions and then note that it is already well in decline over last year. This legislation would seek to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
    As far as ‘New’s’ take on SF, welcome to the city, now that you are here, please note that you have left the United States and can re-enter the US by leaving the city.

  17. Posted by sleepiguy

    I agree with every thing ex sf-er stated. It cracks me up that all this legislation designed to punish property owners invariably has the opposite effect. The harder it is to kick people out, the more valuable vacant property becomes, thus encouraging current owners to find new and creative ways of getting vacant property on the market, thereby making long-term tenants persona non grata.
    Besides, older people/protected tenants already have extraordinary resources at their disposal to thwart developers. How much more can the city do to help them out? I know one out of town developer that tried to Ellis protected tenants and was promptly sued. The tenants received a six figure payout. They immediately went out and bought some nice, new German cars with their lotto winnings.
    Likewise, I ran into an older woman the other day who was upset that she couldn’t find a decent rental in Pacific Heights in spite of her (alleged) good credit, etc. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her age makes her an undesirable tenant, especially in her price range. I think for every landlord that says, “I rent to an older lady and we’re best friends and I borrow sugar from her all the time!” there are far more landlords that won’t rent to anyone that doesn’t fit a very narrow demographic – i.e. single white women in their late 20s-mid 30s.

  18. Posted by sleepiguy

    Thank you Dede! That’s terrific. So about 14% of all eviction [I]notices[/I] are Ellis acts.

  19. Posted by Trip

    Equal protection is complicated, and I’m rusty on it, but I think there is at least a strong claim that this proposed legislation would be unconstitutional. One has a legal right to Ellis a tenant. I don’t think the city can single out those who chose to exercise this legal right and punish them with disparate treatment in later permitting decisions. Hey, why stop with Ellis evictions? Why not punish anybody who evicts anyone for any reason with these new, strict permitting hurdles? Fighting this in court would be expensive, but the city pays your legal fees in a claim like this if you win (SF pays out an awful lot of fees to those who challenge dumb actions by the Stupes or the voters). I’m curious if the City Attorney has weighed in on this — maybe we can get Newsom to leek the legal opinion.

  20. Posted by sleepiguy

    Speaking of Peskin, it’s more than a little obvious when Chiu gives a random shout out to North Beach (an area he may represent but in which he does not live).

  21. Posted by R

    Trip: the city already has laws on the books that single out Ellis Act folks.. if you Ellis act a protected tenant, you cannot bypass the condo lottery on a 2 unit. I don’t think anyone has challenged that yet

  22. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    SF is not equivalent to US, New. I’m getting pretty tired of the way this city works. For the first time I’m contemplating leaving. Maybe because I just got back from Spain and it was awesome.
    Et tu Flujie? Say it ain’t so! First Snatchel bails out and then you?? This site won’t be worth the paper its printed on without you two guys duking it out every day …

  23. Posted by anon$random

    tipster, i’ve heard some stupid anti-realtor rants on here…and i’ve heard some good ones. yours just doesn’t make any sense at all.

  24. Posted by Trip

    R, you’re right, but the key is that it does not look like anyone has challenged these ordinances yet. I think the condo lottery limitations are just as shaky. Lots of unlawful ordinances go by for many years before someone finally stands up to the govt — it is expensive and time-consuming to fight The Man.

  25. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Maybe the ACLU will take up the cause? Fighting discrimination against landlords and developers by ‘The Man.’
    Hmm … not sure that’ll look too good in the media.

  26. Posted by EH

    it is expensive and time-consuming to fight The Man.
    Too bad there’s no money in SF real estate.

  27. Posted by Trip

    The Supes are not smart, but they do know who they can pick on with little risk of a legal challenge because of the financial barriers. Any Ellis owners out there want to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars on a case that may, or may not, result in the chance to get in the condo lottery or the normal garage permit process and nothing more? If so, come see me . . .

  28. Posted by anon$random

    note to self. get garage permits before doing ellis act.

  29. Posted by radar

    Who in their right mind would want to own rental property in S.F. with all of the restrictions that are placed on owners. It has been proven that rent control does not create more housing nor creates a better city to live within.
    Here is a real life situation that just occured in the last year with a friend who owns a 3 unit building:
    1. He has owned and lived in this building for 20+ years and the tenant in the first unit with no stairs had been living there for the same 20+ year.
    2. The original tenant has brought in other family members and then their spouses to live there and when the lease was written, there was minimal restrictions in place given the age of the lease.
    3. Now owner’s mother who lives out of country is ill and wants to bring her here to live in his building so that he may care for her and that she has minimal steps to deal with.
    4. City laws dictate that long term tenant is
    “protected” and NOW….the owner can not remove a tenant to bring his mother here so that he can take care of her. Imagine,…not even in his OWN property.
    I am one of those “bleeding heart” liberals and feel for some of the situations that occur with seniors and others as it relates to rent control but please… …….this is just plain WRONG and indicative of what is flawed about rent control cities.
    San Francisco is a city dominated by renters yet, when the city needs to fill the coffers…..do they spread the burden ? NO…………they tax homeowners only and renters get the benefits.
    What’s wrong with this picture………

  30. Posted by hmmm

    @Trip and others:
    This legislation and others mentioned do not put limit the use of the Ellis Act! The restriction on no-condo lottery for Ellis Acted buildings is NOT a restriction on the Ellis Act, is a restriction on other unrelated permits to the building that are fully within the jursidiction of the City. Not granting permits to add garages to buildings that have been ellised, is not a limitation on the use of the Ellis Act. You’re free to Ellis the building all you want. All the Ellis Act enables you to do is clear out a building of tenants in order to remove the building from the rental stock. It doesn’t entitle someone to get any other city permits, whether that be adding a garage, subdividing the property, putting in new windows, or sticking a windmill on their roof. It also doesn’t entitle them to demolish the unit. The right to Ellis a building does not in any way undermine or contradict the City’s ability to prevent demolition of an individual unit or building.

  31. Posted by Trip

    hmmm, I understand your point. But I’m not arguing that the Ellis Act “entitles” one to anything within the city’s jurisdiction. I’m saying that the city cannot penalize you for exercising your rights under the Ellis Act by treating you worse than others on these other issues. The right at issue is to not be treated adversely based on your unrelated lawful conduct.
    Here is an example — not right on point, but it is apt. Assume California permitted same-gender marriage, but some right-wing city in California did not like that fact. So they passed an ordinance stating that you’re free to marry someone of the same gender, but anyone who does so cannot get in the condo lottery and must go through a more arduous garage permitting process. Pretty unfair, no? The law requires — at least — a rational basis for treating classes of people differently under the law. “We don’t like the state law” does not cut it. I don’t think these acts would survive an equal protection legal challenge.

  32. Posted by anon$random

    hmmm: this is another one of the city’s feeble attempts to retaliate against property development and affordable ownership through tenancies in common. not sure why they’re against such a thing, really.
    what they will learn, as they should have learned from repeated failures, is that when you try to put limits on the free market there are unintended consequences. consequences such as no one wanting to rent to the elderly or people with children. consequences such as placing a disproportionate amount of the rental burden on new tenants because some guy making $150K/year has been in is apartment for 15 years and is paying 1/3 of what he should be. consequences such as the only way an owner can really get the money out of their investment is to ellis act the building, put the tenants on the street, and sell the units as tic’s…

  33. Posted by Sunny Jim

    @Trip
    I remember speaking to a woman that couldn’t sell her 3 unit building (empty) for what she wanted.
    She said that she’d rent them out again. I commented on the strict laws protecting the tenents once they move in. She said that she only rented to 125k plus incomes and 800 ficos and that this was the profile of a climber and not a nester.
    My question is if a person can come back with a complaint based on income and fico prejudice?
    Where’s LMRiM?

  34. Posted by tipster

    Complaints can only be based on failure to rent to a protected class. You CANNOT file a complaint based on fico or income because those are not protected classes.
    You ****CAN**** file a complaint based on age. If that is the case, the EEOC will request the ages of the people you rented to. No one over 40 in the last ten years? You LOSE!
    I had one landlord who never rented to single men. How do I know this? The owner TOLD me so. Told me thay thought I was perfect, but they had a policy: women or married couples only. I had a gf, but it didn’t matter. OK, no big deal, I found another place.
    Two years later, they called me up and BEGGED me to move into one of their rentals. They got nailed with an EEOC complaint, paid a penalty and a fine, and then tried to find single men they found acceptable so that when the EEOC did the next investigation (because they were bascially going to continue their policy, with few exceptions), their profile didn’t look so bad.
    Those who think you can avoid rent control issues by avoiding over 40 year old renters, be aware: over 40 year old renters are a protected class. You can be sued, and when it comes out that you haven’t rented to anyone over 40 in 5 years, you’ll lose.
    The woman in the post above is much smarter, she discriminates on a basis that is not a protected class, by using fico and income. That is legal. Discriminating on age is not legal and you’ll get sued sooner or later, even if it’s just a law firm setting you up.

  35. Posted by sleepiguy

    I also noticed something rather shady in his proposal. Again, Chiu says that in 1/2 of garage addition permit applications there was a previous Ellis… He doesn’t say WHEN such properties were Ellis acted… or that they were Ellis acted for the express purpose of adding the garage. Tenants might have been evicted from an unwarranted in-law years ago, but the Ellis act stays on the property records so when someone files for a garage permit, planning can go back and say, “Oh, this unit was Ellis acted back in 1989, so you have to pay the following additional fees and cut through the following red tape.”

  36. Posted by Trip

    Tipster’s basically got it right on the law from what I know given my extremely limited knowledge of this area. Only it is not the EEOC but the FHA who enforces federal housing laws, or more likely the DFEH on the state side. But I differ with tipster in that I think you’re far more likely than not to get away with any unlawful rental discrimination — except perhaps one based on race. Discrimination cases are very hard to prove.

  37. Posted by salarywoman

    You cannot discriminate against potential tenants for certain characteristics such as race or religion but I believe it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate based on income and credit worthiness.

  38. Posted by wanker

    Love all the comments by indignant “landlords” – “we’ll just take all of our property off market”, “I limit who I rent to”.
    B.S.
    I tell you what – in this market with >10% unemployment you’ll rent to whomever will reliably cut you a check on the last day of the month.

  39. Posted by Shza

    @ Trip: rational basis review; good luck with that.

  40. Posted by astonished

    Anonn, are you REALLY thinking of leaving San Francisco? (or just questioning the cost vs. benefits that many of us have discussed before?)
    When people who have been mostly optimistic about San Francisco come back feeling the way Fluj posted, it does not speak well for the state of the city.

  41. Posted by Trip

    Shza, that’s why I’ve hedged. But I’m not sure that discrimination based on exercise of a legal right would be analyzed under a rational basis standard. Haven’t looked into it. And what’s the rational basis, anyway? “We don’t like the fact that you exercised your state law right”? Check out Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996).

  42. Posted by anon$random

    Wanker:
    i sell apt bldgs. the owners who dont need the money, generally those that have had their bldgs a long time, very often leave units unrented for very long periods of time. it happens way more than you think.

  43. Posted by anon

    As far as ‘New’s’ take on SF, welcome to the city, now that you are here, please note that you have left the United States and can re-enter the US by leaving the city.
    I always get a chuckle at comments like this, like somehow it’s easier to build something new, different, or unique in Palo Alto or Tiburon or Santa Monica or Laguna Beach. SF has its problems, but it is certainly not alone – the problems just tend to be more with “protecting” tenants and poor people, rather than “protecting” your rich neighbors.

  44. Posted by New to SF

    Dede wrote;
    As far as ‘New’s’ take on SF, welcome to the city, now that you are here, please note that you have left the United States and can re-enter the US by leaving the city.
    ———————————————–
    Hahahahaha…… I have to laugh at this comment.
    I was living in Texas before moving to SF. I went to Boston for a vacation and a duck boat tour guide asked me where I came from.
    I said that I came from Texas and he said with strong Boston accent “WELCOME TO United States of America !!!!” Hahaha…..

  45. Posted by Shza

    Romer is super atypical and more of a political decision than anything. It was also briefed, argued, and decided based on an interpretation of the CO amendment that the amendment would actually have permitted, e.g., firefighters to not respond to calls from gay people. I.e., not a prohibition on “special rights” but a stripping of absolutely all rights for a class, which, while not “protected” under the Caroline Products footnote, is much closer to that realm than the “class” of SF property owners.
    In nearly every other rational basis case, the flimsiest, most illogical and bogus explanations suffice for constitutionality.
    This strikes me as a clear loser.
    The CA constitution might be a different scenario though, for all I know. No idea what EP clause jurisprudence is like at the state level.

  46. Posted by Trip

    Agree Romer is sui generis, but it does mean that rational basis means some rationality and other courts have followed it. The real question is whether punishing someone solely because they exercised their legal right would only bring rational basis scrutiny. Hard to believe that is the case. These statutes even punish you if you did nothing at all, but someone who used to live in your place exercised their legal right. Equal protection may not even be the right doctrine — I’m just thinking out loud — but this sure seems to raise problems.

  47. Posted by anonn

    Radar, the situation you describe is actually the lone exception to the status afforded protected tenants.
    “An exception to the protected tenant rule gives special treatment to an elderly parent:
    If all rental units in the building where the owner resides are occupied by protected
    tenants, then the owner may evict one protected tenant to provide a home to the owner’s
    elderly relative.”
    http://www.g3mh.com/downloads/2005TenantEvictionsBrochure.pdf
    And astonished, I sometimes say stuff like that when I get back from places I like, I guess. You know how it is. Come home to a ton of bills, etc.

  48. Posted by EBGuy

    Come home to a ton of bills, etc.
    Note to self: next time pay overdue electric bill before leaving for vacation.

  49. Posted by corntrollio

    “The real question is whether punishing someone solely because they exercised their legal right would only bring rational basis scrutiny.”
    I don’t think that’s the real question. Federal rational basis tests typically check whether there is *any* basis for the regulation. It doesn’t even have to be a stated purpose or a stated rationale of the government — it just has to be a purpose or rationale for the government. All the city would have to argue is “well, we think this will keep more rental units in the city, which will produce more affordable housing in SF, and that’s an important goal for us,” and that would be enough.
    I think you’d have to look for some other basis, for example, that this regulation is inconsistent with the intent of state law, and state law is supreme. I don’t know enough about the California equal protection clause to say what would happen with it, but the federal equal protection clause seems like sure failure.

  50. Posted by corntrollio

    Sorry, also meant to add that “people who evict tenants under the Ellis Act” aren’t really a categorization that would trigger higher levels of scrutiny under federal equal protection.

  51. Posted by WTF

    the proposed legislation does not in any way “punish” a “class” of people. What planet are you people on? The proposed legislation puts land use restrictions on inaminate physical fixed objects — buildings — it has nothing to do with people. The restrictions would not follow people from location to location or apply prejudicially with certain classes of people. The proposed legislation does not say “People who have implemented the Ellis Act are prohibited from adding garages to any building they might own.” It says (and I’m paraphrasing), “Buildings where there has been an Ellis Act may not have garages added to them.” The proposed rule is not in any way attached to a person or group of people — it is attached to a building. This is a ridiculous conversation.

  52. Posted by Dede

    @ Wanker about Landlords taking housing off the market:
    From the Housing DataBook commissioned by the City in 2000, p62.
    http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/rentboard/housingdatabook/sfhousingdatabook.pdf
    In 2000, in a market that was in decline but not the bottom, the City’s own study showed that just under 1.5% were held off the market not. And that was even before several ordinances changed making it even more difficult to be a Landlord in SF. So yes, sometimes it makes sense to hold property off the market and it happens all the time.
    As for other comments about discrimination on the basis of race, age, or sex occurring more often, it happens. When you don’t let price serve as the rationing mechanism for a good, other mechanisms will. Landlords will quietly prefer another tenant who can pay well over one who can pay well and is a protected class.

  53. Posted by sf

    WTF, you make a technically correct but practically deficient argument; you are right, the legislation regulates buildings not people, but how is the Ellis Act exercised? By a herd of fuzzy pink vampire bunnies? No, by people, in this case property owners who are invested in a their property and who generally do represent a certain “class” if you will. I agree that the tone of this thread has gone a over the top and even a bit hysterical, (as others have mentioned, how many are really affected by this at all for example), but it is simply not true to claim that legislation that “only” affects buildings will not affect the owners of these buildings as well.

  54. Posted by radar

    Radar, the situation you describe is actually the lone exception to the status afforded protected tenants.
    “An exception to the protected tenant rule gives special treatment to an elderly parent:
    If all rental units in the building where the owner resides are occupied by protected
    tenants, then the owner may evict one protected tenant to provide a home to the owner’s
    elderly relative.”
    http://www.g3mh.com/downloads/2005TenantEvictionsBrochure.pdf
    Annon…….there was only the one protected tenant in the building where there were no stairs so the exception did not apply in this case.
    The owner spent lots of cash with real estate lawyers to try and figure this out.

  55. Posted by Jimmy C

    No landlord would ever call back a prospective renter from two years prior and beg them to come back to look… unless the landlord was Dr. Seuss.
    The facts are, if you own 4 or less units, you can rent to whomever you want without fear of discrimination suits. That is state law, so the good news is there is nothing Daly can do about that.
    In addition, if I have a protected tenant in one of my units, I can move one of my relatives in without issue. This is a city/county SF law, and since I only own rentals outside of SF, I’m not that familiar with it, but it’s there.

  56. Posted by NoeNeighbor

    The question remains is why is the City so fixated on renters? Why do we assume that these people are inherently so special, so deserving, so morally superior to property owners, that they deserve special protection.
    The answer is that there is no reason to particularly defend renters. However, they have political clout so they are able to screw property owners.
    Just the facts.

  57. Posted by EBGuy

    No landlord would ever call back a prospective renter from two years prior and beg them to come back to look.
    Sweet, naive Jimmy C — stick to your rentals outside the area. There are tenants whose stock and trade is to find rentals where landlords did an ‘illegal’ OMI or Ellis (but then didn’t follow through as they were supposed to). The tenant rents for a while and then reports the landlord to the rent board. Rents are rolled back and the tenant is credited for the money already paid over the new rate (so they live rent free for a while — hope that was in the pro forma financials). At least that’s how it goes in my neighborhood…

  58. Posted by anon

    ^I’m so confused. What does that have to do with Jimmy C making fun of tipster’s story about looking at an apartment and then having the landlord call HIM two years later begging him to rent the apartment?

  59. Posted by tipster

    Jimmy C.,
    I’m hardly an expert on the subject, but:
    1. The landlord did in fact call back. I don’t know how many units they owned. As I said, I didn’t really try to pursue any action when they told me they wouldn’t rent to me, it just seemed discriminatory to refuse to rent based on gender and marital status. When they called back, the owner told me that they had gotten into some trouble over it (I think that, like you, they honestly didn’t realize it was a problem) and they needed to remedy the problem as quickly as possible because they were worried about more problems and wanted to head them off. They went through some trouble to find me because this was pre-cell phone days and I had already moved (and changed my phone number) twice from the number I had given them on the application (though all they really had to do was to call directory assistance).
    2. I think you are mistaken in your belief about 4 units. Although the Federal Fair Housing Act was excepted for owner occupied buildings with 4 units or less, there are many other laws that can be used as the basis for penalties or lawsuits, and owners have to comply with all of them. Some of the other laws, namely the state FEHA and the Unruh Act, do not appear to have such an exemption, and so you would be in violation of those laws, though not the FFHA, if you lived in a building with 4 units or less. FFHA requires you to live in the building and the exemption is lost if you use a broker to rent out the unit in question.
    I think you need a federal connection for FFHA to apply at all: FFHA may only apply to buildings for which one of the GSEs made the loan or one operated by the federal government. But in any event, the state laws would apply and they have no exemptions for 4 units or less, or none I could find.
    http://ag.ca.gov/publications/civilrights/01CRhandbook/chapter3.htm
    Some cities also have outlawed discrimination:
    http://www.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/housing-discrimination
    Probably might be a good idea for you to contact a lawyer and find out what your obligations under the “state law” that you don’t appear to be able to cite. You shouldn’t take advice from me on this subject, I haven’t ever looked into it at all. My gut tells me you’re wrong. You may want to find this “state law”. I looked and couldn’t find one when I searched for “discrimination california 4 units”.

  60. Posted by ester

    Some people don’t get it : SF is the best place to own a rental property. Of course, you need to be picky on who you rent to, and not be caught.
    But the rental is so much higher than comparable properties in south bay, thanks to rental control law.
    For every single protected tenant who benefits from the rental control law, there are hundreds of other regular tenants that are paying high rents.

  61. Posted by ester

    I don’t have any issue with rental laws, let them stay, and I can enjoy the high rental income
    I do have issuew with those TIC rules. By makeing it so difficult to convert, people have to pay much much higher interest rates, and it does not benefit anyone, but the banks.
    When I rent a vacation unit, i put it at 10% below market level, and get a few applicants, and I cherry pick the right one for me.
    for my condo unit, yes, no problem at all. I currently have a single black guy around 50 living there. I love the $3300 he is sending me each month, a really really nice person.

  62. Posted by Trip

    Tipster, pretty decent legal sleuthing. Yes, under the Unruh Act, a state law, any “business establishment,” including any landlord of even a single-unit, is subject to anti-discrimination laws. The state Fair Employment and Housing Act is similarly broad. No pass for owners of fewer than 4 units.
    Nevertheless, proving housing discrimination under either state or federal law is extremely difficult and expensive, and the agencies are not going to pursue something unless the evidence is fairly clear-cut (like an admission that you don’t rent to one class of persons or another). These laws are broken all the time and agency action is rare.

  63. Posted by EBGuy

    ^I’m so confused. What does that have to do with Jimmy C making fun of tipster’s story about looking at an apartment and then having the landlord call HIM two years later begging him to rent the apartment?
    I assumed (at this point, probably wrongly), that Jimmy C was referring to anonn’s tenant eviction link. There are different time periods (2, 5 and 10 years) where landlords are able re-rent an Ellised unit; however, if the procedures are not properly followed, a previous or future tenant can put the hurt on the landlord.

  64. Posted by wanker

    Wow – nearly 1.5% of all available units held off market…in 2007 no less. Thats a rounding error. Again, with the way rents are dropping and the number of units coming on line, you will take what you can get.
    Ahh…and now I see we have Ester our high-rollin’, big money investor crowing about her “renter” paying for a condo. More myths. Ester, honey, this isn’t a group therapy session. You made a bad investment choice and you will probably lose your down payment. Let it go. Walk away.

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