Supes panel amends
by David-Elijah Nahmod
A Board of Supervisors committee this week amended controversial condo conversion legislation, making its passage more likely.
The changes took place Monday, April 15 at the board's Land Use and Economic Development Committee. The legislation, proposed by gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell, would allow for 2,000 tenancies in common to bypass the city's condo conversion lottery and immediately convert to condos.
Supporters said that the higher mortgage rates they faced as a TIC made it difficult for them to keep their homes.
Castro resident Tim Denike, 35, shares this sentiment. He purchased his TIC in 2007 and admits to being in a little over his head.
"With a condo conversion I can take advantage of lower mortgage rates," Denike said in an interview earlier this year. "I have no plans to flip the unit or leave it."
Housing activists were critical, saying the legislation would reduce rental stock.
Wiener said he supported the amendment, which places a mandatory halt to condo conversions for the next decade.
"With the amendment, TIC owners will be able to convert to condos through the condo lottery bypass," Wiener said in a statement to the Bay Area Reporter. "We will then have a pause of the lottery, likely for 10 years. When the lottery resumes, it will cover buildings up to four units. Five- and six-unit buildings will no longer be able to condo convert. In addition, when the lottery resumes, owner-occupancy requirements will be increased."
Wiener stated that the amendment resulted from significant negotiation and dialogue.
"It's a positive step forward toward a result in which TIC owners obtain much needed relief and renters are protected. I look forward to discussions over the next week so we can move forward toward a piece of legislation with broad support," he said.
Sara Shortt and Tommi Avicolli Mecca, both of whom work with the Housing Rights Committee, were among the activists who fought for the condo conversion moratorium. At an April 15 ACT UP meeting at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, Avicolli Mecca explained the urgency of the city's housing crisis.
"Forty percent of homeless youth in San Francisco identify as LGBT," Avicolli Mecca said. "Kids are still coming to the city to escape homophobic environments, but there's nowhere for them to live. Forty percent of people with AIDS are homeless. We've got to bring down the rents and stop the evictions."
Shortt and Avicolli Mecca consider the amendment to the Wiener-Farrell legislation a major victory, as it would slow down the evictions and save many rental units from converting to condos. But the crisis was far from over, they pointed out.
"Direct action works, civil disobedience works, confronting them in their office works," Avicolli Mecca said. He pointed out that it was important to build coalitions with different communities who could come together on this issue. The city's rents, Mecca said, need to be brought down.