Committee OKs bill curbing evictions

A controversial measure aimed at stemming a wave of evictions related to real estate speculation passed the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee on Wednesday.

The approval sets up a showdown between renters and property owners.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s legislation would restrict condo-conversions in buildings where there have been evictions in multiple units or the elderly, seriously ill or handicapped have been displaced. The legislation applies to evictionsafter January 1999.

A number of renters applauded the measure, saying real estate speculators are abusing a state law called the Ellis Act to evict tenants.

Under California’s Ellis Act, a property owner can evict tenants in order to remove the property from the rental market. City law does not allow such buildings to immediately enter the condo market but speculators can resell the buildings at a profit to groups of people sharing a mortgage, but living in separate units. Tenancies-in-common, as they are known, then apply to turn the buildings into condominiums through a city lottery system.

Peskin’s office said there have been Ellis evictions in 3,000 units since 1999.

“I’m tired of getting calls from 78-year-olds being evicted from their homes,” Peskin said. “We need to prevent these types of evictions.”

Some homeowners groups said the legislation is unfair since it retroactively applies to evictions going back seven years. Randy Brasche, president of the San Francisco Tenancy In Common coalition, said he would not have been able to afford a home in San Francisco on his own. He bought a TIC in Glen Park with four partners.

Homeowners also argue homeownership creates more stable neighborhoods and contributes more to San Francisco’s tax base.

Condo conversions and Ellis Act evictions have been hot political topics this year. Mayor Gavin Newsom recently vetoed two pieces of legislation that would require property owners to notify prospective buyers if an eviction occurred in the building and created reviews for condo conversions of two or more units. The legislation now goes before the full Board of Supervisors.

Jay Lasnik, who is facing an eviction along with other tenants from a building on McAllister Street, said real estate speculation is making The City less diverse.

“If our eviction goes through, you will be losing artists, gays and straights, blacks and whites … a big slice of the diversity this city likes to hold onto,” Lasnik said.

jjouvenal@examiner.com

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