Condo conversion legislation suffers setback at SF board 

click to enlarge Chiu said his work on the condo conversion proposal was to “ensure that this legislation will both address the plight of TIC owners in the current condo-conversion system and protect San Francisco renters.” - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Chiu said his work on the condo conversion proposal was to “ensure that this legislation will both address the plight of TIC owners in the current condo-conversion system and protect San Francisco renters.”

An effort to allow building owners to bypass the annual condo conversion lottery suffered a setback Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors sent the proposal back to committee for further debate.

The setback puts the proposal on shaky ground given that for years condo-conversion proposals have collapsed amid political fighting.

San Francisco allows the conversion of 200 tenancy-in-common units annually through a lottery. Those in this shared-ownership situation have complained about paying more than double the normal interest rates to finance their housing and the long waits to convert to condos, which have less-expensive mortgages. There are about 2,200 tenancy-in-common units in The City, most of which fall under rent-control laws.

Supervisor Mark Farrell first introduced legislation that would allow tenancy-in-common owners to pay $20,000 per unit to bypass the annual lotteryBut the legislation has run an unusual course. Tenant advocates, who have long opposed condo conversion bypass proposals, partnered with board President David Chiu to craft and gain support to amend the legislation. They have even called it a pro-tenant proposal.

That left Farrell leading up to Tuesday’s board vote attempting to dial-back some of the changes made to his own legislation, which he said he no longer supported. If the proposal is approved without Farrell’s blessing, Mayor Ed Lee could face pressure to veto the legislation.

Farrell has said he could not support as part of the proposal an automatic moratorium on the condo lottery for at least 10 years. Instead he wants a lottery cancelation based on the actual number of people who choose to pay the bypass fee — one year for every 200 people. Farrell has also criticized changing conversion eligibility requirements for some of the existing tenancy-in-common owners.

Chiu said his work on the proposal was to “ensure that this legislation will both address the plight of TIC owners in the current condo-conversion system and protect San Francisco renters.”

Also Tuesday, Chiu and Supervisor Scott Wiener each introduced legislation to prevent large voter information guides for elections. As it is now,  a referendum on the 8 Washington condo development would result in a 500-page book delivered to nearly 500,000 voters this November. .

Chiu’s proposal would allow a a reduction of materials and summary of legal for ballot measures exceeding 100 pages. Wiener’s allows the reduction for those exceeding 20 pages. The Department of Elections estimates that each page of the Voter Information Pamphlet costs approximately $3,500 to print and mail.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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