Online Extra: Political Notes: Condo proposal divides SF supes
by Matthew S. Bajko
The fate of an overhaul to San Francisco's condo conversion process remains in doubt ahead of the board's vote next week.
As previous Bay Area Reporter coverage of the legislation has noted, it would allow for more than 2,000 tenancies in common to bypass the city's condo conversion lottery and immediately convert to condos. Under the current system, only 200 TIC units chosen at random are allowed to become condos per year.
Housing rights activists have long complained that TICs result in less rent-controlled housing stock and lead many seniors and people living with HIV and AIDS to lose their homes, particularly in the city's gay Castro district.
Working with the board's more progressive members, they won several concessions in the legislation, the main one being a moratorium on condo conversions for at least 10 years. They also added several changes to the eligibility requirements, such as restricting five- and six-unit buildings from converting to condos when the lottery resumes.
The board is set to take up the measure at its May 7 meeting. Since last week supervisors, Mayor Ed Lee 's office, condo owners, and housing advocates have been in negotiations to strike a compromise to ensure the legislation's passage.
While it is believed the current version of the legislation has the six votes necessary for passage at the board, it is less likely that there would be the eight votes needed to override a mayoral veto.
The legislation's two authors – District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell and gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener – have voiced opposition to the amendments made to it last week. Should their concerns not be addressed, it is possible that Lee could oppose the revised version.
According to a San Francisco Examiner article last week, Farrell suggested passage of the revised legislation could lead to a lawsuit or ballot measure to overturn it.
Wiener told the B.A.R. Friday that he believes the disagreement can be worked out, though it could mean a delay in the vote should there be significant revisions to the legislation.
"I think these are all fixable," he said. "These are not radical changes."
District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee , considered a swing vote in the matter, has worked behind the scenes for months to try to broker an agreement. Yee, who only has 14 TIC units in his west of Twin Peaks district, said he felt the city should address the concerns of the TIC owners while at the same time use it as an opportunity to protect its rental stock.
During an editorial board meeting with the B.A.R. earlier this month, he expressed confidence there were enough votes to pass the legislation at the board but said talks have been ongoing to address the remaining concerns.
"There are still a few more issues that are being ironed out so maybe we will get a more solid supermajority on the board," said Yee.
At the heart of the dispute is how the rules apply to current TIC owners. Farrell and Wiener crafted their proposed changes to apply to those TICs in the 2012 and 2013 lottery, between 2,200 to 2,400 units. They intended for all other TICs to remain under the current lottery rules.
The revised version, however, would apply to all TICs and could result in some being ineligible to convert to condos, said Wiener.
"My primary concern is that existing TIC owners who are not in the lottery right now are being forced into the bypass in ways that are problematic for them," said Wiener. "I just don't want to help some TIC owners and undermine others."
Appointed District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang also expressed misgivings with the proposed changes during an editorial board meeting with the B.A.R. two weeks ago. There are no TICs in her Sunset district, which is made up primarily of single family houses, but Tang said that, "in general, I am supportive of TICs."
"The devil really is in the details of what the final measure will look like," she added.
Another board member considered a swing vote on the TIC legislation is District 5 Supervisor London Breed. Her district, centered in the Haight and Western Addition, has seen many units become TICs over the years.
When asked about the proposal during an editorial board meeting with the B.A.R., Breed was noncommittal but expressed optimism that a compromise could be reached.
"I am looking forward to reviewing the legislation. I want to see good policy for San Francisco and I want to see what the impacts are long-term," she said. "I am optimistic about it."
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