Landowner-tenant laws may be contributing to homelessness

ktvu – excerpt (includes video)

Affordable Housing Project by Plan Bay Area photo by zrants

– While laws are supposed to protect, attorney James Cook told KTVU local landowner-tenant laws may be worsening the Bay Area’s housing crisis forcing more people into homelessness.

“Both landlords and tenants would say the current housing laws have contributed to at least the rental crisis,” he said. “If you talk to owners, they say it keeps small-time owners from renting to people because they want to rent out units for market rates because housing prices are so high. If you talk to tenants, they say the just law eviction laws do not protect them from unlawful evictions and they aren’t right.”

Cook said the Bay Area’s housing problem has grown at a speed for which many people and laws couldn’t have prepared. According to Cook, the Costa Hawkins Act originally made the law which determines control for rent control and when you can evict someone under rent control and what type of housing qualifies under rent control. Just Cause eviction laws determine the circumstances under which someone can evict a tenant… (more)

Some words of wisdom coming out of this conversation about homelessness. We need to balance the powers between the landlords and tenants with an eye toward fairness for all. The current laws pitch landlords against tenants and we agree they are largely in need of an overhaul.

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Houses over Bernal gas pipeline delayed again

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

bernalview

Bernal Heights view photo by zrants

Ronen points out that we can’t trust PG&E to ensure that a 36-year-old high-pressure gas pipe won’t blow up

The City Planning Department will have to do additional research on the chance that a pipeline under Bernal Hill could explode during the construction of two houses, the Board of Supes decided today.

The issue has been back and forth between the board and city planners for  years, mostly because the Planning can’t seem to figure out its own rules around environmental review..

The pipeline is one of the few in the city that isn’t buried under a street. The city doesn’t even know at this point how deep the earth above the pipeline is — 24 inches? Or 36 inches? Not clear.

The pipeline has never been fully examined for the sort of potential flaws that destroyed an entire neighborhood in San Bruno.

Justin Horner, a city planning staffer, said that “inadvertent affects that could be caused by negligence are not part of the [environmental review] process.

Which is why the city has argued that a full environmental study isn’t needed… (more)

Thankfully someone is paying attention. The last thing we need is to blow up another neighborhood in our haste to “build more housing.” Residents have been voicing concerns about this pipe for years. Neighbors will be relived to know someone has come to their senses. There is a general problem with an environmental review program that does not take into account the actual natural environment that is existing in determining how the project under review will effect that natural existing situation. A hearing is needed to clarify where and how such matters as seismic conditions and flood plains are taken into account in the building permit process, which is where, we understand this sort of issue is supposedly taken up. Please announce this hearing to the broadest audience possible and please cover this in the media regardless of how many other events occur on that day.

St. Luke’s won’t evict sub-acute patients…

by Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

but CPMC, which owns the Mission hospital, won’t promise to preserve the critical-care beds after the current patients die

The Board of Supes celebrated a significant victory today when California Pacific Medical Center’s director, Dr. David Browner, announced that St. Luke’s hospital will not send 24 sub-acute care patients out of town when it shuts down its 24-hour critical nursing center.

It was a huge victory for community activists, who have challenged the big hospital chain’s decision to close the center, which provides comprehensive care for adults with high needs, such as ventilators..

Sups. Hillary Ronen and Ahsha Safai negotiated the deal with CPMC as the board was preparing to hold a hearing on the lack of sub-acute skilled nursing care in a city where the population is aging.

Both of them noted that it’s rare for a giant corporate entity (and CPMC, while technically nonprofit, is a giant corporate entity) to bow to community pressure and reverse what was a decision set in stone just a few weeks ago… (more)

Strangest thing: Some agreement in SF housing debate

Special by Joel Engardio : sfexaminer – excerpt

Not-so-odd Couple: SPUR director Christine Johnson, left, and Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods president George Wooding are supposed to represent opposite sides of the housing debate, but they agree on more issues than anyone expected.

In the simple version of San Francisco’s housing crisis, two giant generations are fighting over limited space in a peninsula city that isn’t configured to fit both.

Baby boomers bought up scarce housing decades ago, created their own piece of paradise and worked to preserve low-density neighborhoods by resisting new development. Now, there’s no room for millennials, who want to reshape San Francisco into a denser and less car-centric city.

The boomers won’t yield quietly.

“Neighborhood character is the hill I will die on,” said George Wooding, 61, president of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. “As more height and density becomes the norm, we’ll start to look like the row houses of St. Petersburg, Russia. There is a beauty to San Francisco worth saving.”

But millennials see preservation as a losing prospect…

Wooding and Johnson lead very different constituencies in the debate over what San Francisco should look like and who should live here. Yet, their personal views are less simplistic than their public roles suggest…

“We want the same thing — a city that’s livable and comfortable — but we have different ways to get there,” Wooding said…

CARROTS OR STICKS?

San Francisco has an unknown number of vacant units that add to the housing crunch. Some people fear renting out empty space in their homes. Strict tenant protections can make it difficult to reclaim the unit when the owner needs it for an aging parent or adult child.

Wooding supports giving skittish homeowners an incentive to rent to longer-term tenants and not just Airbnb tourists.

“I believe in rent control, and we can create a new option just for those empty units: a three-year contract with an escape clause at the end,” Wooding said. “There is great potential in older people sharing their larger homes.”

Johnson said a tax abatement program would be the right carrot to encourage people to open their homes to renters. She also backs a stick approach that would tax vacant units… (more) 

CLARIFICATION BY GEORGE WOODING: “Yet Wooding, who lives on the Westside, remained firmly opposed to new construction that encroaches on single family housing, RH-2 and RH-3 housing.”

 

Former Supervisor Alioto-Pier might jump back in as District Two candidate

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

The race to succeed San Francisco District Two Supervisor Mark Farrell next year is getting crowded.

On Friday, former supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier — who represented the tony northside district from 2004 until 2010 — told The Chronicle that she is “strongly considering” a run to recover her old position next year…

Alioto-Pier has not yet filed candidate’s papers, but would be a formidable presence in the race because of her prior service on the board. She would run against BART Board Director Nick Josefowitz, media startup founder Schuyler Hudak and labor attorney Kat Anderson, who also hasn’t pulled her papers…(more)

 

Bunk beds, roaches and nerdy geniuses: my year in a Silicon Valley hacker house

By Andrew Frawley : theguardian – excerpt

The lives of tech entrepreneurs aren’t always as glamorous as they’re made out to be, as I learned living among them on a dangerous San Francisco street

For the past 12 months of my life, I paid the bargain price of $1,250 per month to sleep diagonally in a bunk bed in a 10ft x 10ft room that I shared with a 32-year old man. Because I am 6ft 4in, sleeping diagonally in my undersized accommodation was the only way I could make it through the night without getting cramps.

Welcome to my life in the hacker house…

In my first month, there were six of us unemployed at the time. Woefully seeking income, we built a daily ritual of job-hunting together at the kitchen table until sunset. …

Unfortunately, though, hustle doesn’t always lead to results or income. While I was catching up with Will Harris, the early tenant who has been with the Negev from the beginning, he urged me to tell the story of those who don’t make it.

“Everyone hears how rosy it is out here. No one tells the story of the majority of people who do everything right, work their ass off and still end up leaving the city in six months, broke, with crushed dreams.”…(more)

Op-Ed: The Central SoMa Plan Will Worsen Displacement Crisis

By Scott Feeney : thebaycitybeacon – excerpt

What’s a bigger problem in San Francisco today: not enough tech offices, or not enough housing?

Obviously the need for housing is greater, and I say that as someone who works in tech. The City produced eight new jobs for every new home since 2010. And people are noticing the imbalance. Even an entrepreneur is likely to tell you that while signing an office lease is annoying, recruiting and retaining employees is much more difficult as people flee Bay Area housing costs… (more)