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 According to Cook, the Costa Hawkins Act originally made the law which determines control for rent control and when you can evict someone under rent control and what type of housing qualifies under rent control.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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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)

Should we build lots more housing in San Francisco? Three reasons people disagree

by Julia Galef – excerpt

Some people, such as YIMBYs, advocate building lots more housing in San Francisco. Their basic argument is:

Housing in SF is the priciest in the country, with the average one bedroom apartment renting for over $3,000 per month (compared to the nationwide average of $1,200.)

The main reason rents are so high is because the supply of housing has been artificially restricted — new developments are constantly getting blocked by land use regulations and neighborhood associations. Meanwhile, demand to live in SF continues to rise. And since supply is not keeping pace, rents go up, as a growing number of would-be tenants outbid each other for the limited housing available.

Therefore, it’s important that we find a way to increase the rate at which we’re building new housing in SF, or it will be a city in which only the rich can afford to live.

I’ve been trying to understand why others are critical of this argument. I think there are three main areas of disagreement between what I’ll call the advocates and the critics, and I’ll briefly explain each in turn. (Note that I’m trying to present the strongest version of each argument, which may be different from the most common version.)… (more)

Evicted by SFMTA: When living in your car is illegal

– excerpt

When your car is your home, SFMTA becomes your landlord. 

The following is a public comment statement by Melodie, a woman who lives in her vehicle, in regards to SFMTA’s Engineering hearing on Friday, August 4, 2017 regarding the establishment of new tow-away zones: Specifically, on the east side Jerrold Avenue between Barneveld and Bayshore and on the west side of Barneveld Avenue between McKinnon and Jerrold Avenues. The former would be no stopping anytime, while the latter would establish the tow-away zone between 10pm and 2am. While these may seem inconsequential to many, the hearing comes at a time as more and more families and individuals are forced to live in their cars—and there are less and less locations available in the city for people to park without being harassed by city officials. This industrial area is one of the last remaining areas in the city where people have been able to park their vehicles in peace. When there is no where else to go, courageous people like Melodie fight everyday to keep from being evicted from their homes—which often times may be a vehicle…(more)

SF family’s RV was their home. Then it got towed.

By Kevin Fagan : sfchronicle – excerpt

Marielle Lowes spent the past five years traveling the nation in buses and recreational vehicles as a dreadlocked hippie, trailing the remnants of the Grateful Dead and hitting Rainbow Nation bohemian gatherings while selling her art. Then, eight months ago, she gave birth to her first child, and she longs to go home to New Orleans “to settle down and be a mom.”

But she’s stuck in San Francisco. The recreational vehicle that she and her boyfriend have lived in for nearly two years and just fixed up to take them to Louisiana was towed by city parking officials more than a week ago — and they can’t get it back…

If Lowes and Wassell can’t pay the fees or get them waived, they will have to leave the RV behind and it will become city property to be sold.

Meanwhile, Compass Connecting Point, the city agency that places homeless parents and their children in shelters, has put the couple and their baby on a waiting list of 50 other families without permanent housing.

“We get this kind of thing several times a year, with a family losing a vehicle that was their home,” said Carla Praglin, agency case management director. “When you lose your car and your valuable documents like ID, it’s an additional trauma, can really set a family back on getting things done.”…(more)

Wasn’t there some sort of effort to drop charges or lower them for people with limited means? This has got to be an argument for that.

 

 

How owner move-in reform will affect SF tenants and landlords

Op-ed by Cynthia Fong : sfexaminer – excerpt

Owner move-in reform unanimously passed through the Board of Supervisors on July 18. This reform adds enforcement mechanisms to protect tenants from landlords who abuse OMI evictions and never intend to move in. Here is what this new legislation means for tenants and landlords:

This legislation, aptly named “Administrative Code – Owner Move-In Reporting Requirements,” primarily impacts landlords by requiring new and improved reporting requirements. Landlords are now required to provide a declaration under penalty of perjury stating that they intend on residing in the unit for at least 36 continuous months. In addition, the Rent Board is now required to annually notify the unit occupant of the maximum allowable rent (which is the rent of the previous tenant) for five years after an OMI.

This reform also extends the amount of time that a tenant has to exercise their rights and keep landlords accountable…

Finally, and perhaps the most significantly, nonprofits like the Housing Rights Committee and the San Francisco Tenants Union will be able to exercise a “right of action” to enforce the law…

Effective enforcement mechanisms were passed because tenant advocates pushed for real solutions…

Cynthia Fong is a community organizer with the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco in the Richmond District... (more)

 

The big lie about California’s housing crisis

By Deepa Varma : sfexaminer – excerpt

SF-skyline

New SF skyline shot from the bay by zrants

It’s official: The rent in California, not just San Francisco, is too damn high.

California now has the highest poverty rate in the nation when the cost of housing is taken into account. Since 2005, more than 2.5 million Californians have been forced to leave the state in search of an affordable home.

Unfortunately, the prevailing supply and demand — “just build” — mantra put forward by opinion leaders is diverting state government from the hard truth that the market has not responded to the demand of California families for affordable homes — not luxury and market-rate homes.

We are told a big lie, that the solution to our housing crisis is to get government out of the way and leave it to the free market to let affordable housing magically “trickle down” to lower-income households. The truth, though, is developers build to make a profit, not to provide a social need. Luxury housing doesn’t trickle down, at least not at a scale to bring down rents in a meaningful way…(more)

Other countries take a different approach to values…

In World’s Best-Run Economy, House Prices Keep Falling — Because That’s What House Prices Are Supposed To Do

Eamonn Fingleton : forbes – excerpt

When Americans travel abroad, the culture shocks tend to be unpleasant. Robert Locke’s experience was different. In buying a charming if rundown house in the picturesque German town of Goerlitz, he was surprised – very pleasantly – to find city officials second-guessing the deal. The price he had agreed was too high, they said, and in short order they forced the seller to reduce it by nearly one-third. The officials had the seller’s number because he had previously promised to renovate the property and had failed to follow through…(more)