How One Sunset Couple’s $4,800 Rent Increase Could Shatter Eviction Protections for Thousands of Bay Area Tenants

By Lamar Anderson : modernluxury – excerpt

A case headed to court this fall could have major ramifications for renters.

Outer Sunset tenants Danielle Phillips and Paul Kelly lived in a two-bedroom house (center)—until their landlord more than tripled their rent.

In San Francisco there are two classes of renters: those with rent control and those without. But even renters who live in units without rent control—namely, single-family homes and condos—enjoy some protections from eviction under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. At least, that’s what Outer Sunset residents Danielle Phillips and Paul Kelly thought, until they came home one day and found a rent increase so high that it seemed to be an eviction in disguise. It was February 2016, and the couple had been paying $1,900 to live in a two-bedroom house not far from the beach. Their new landlord, attorney Matthew Dirkes, raised the rent to a whopping $6,700, more than triple their previous rent and far above the $4,600 median asking rent for single-family homes in San Francisco at the time, according to Zillow…

Phillips and Kelly sued, arguing that the drastic rent increase was an attempt to get around San Francisco’s eviction laws. In May the Superior Court of San Francisco sided with the landlord and blocked the tenants’ suit. When the case goes before California’s First District Court of Appeal this fall, a judge will rule for the first time on how strong the eviction protections for single-family homes and condos really are..

S.F. has an unknown number of single-family homes that actually are under rent control because they have an illegal in-law unit on the property. These tenants are safe from big rent increases like the one Phillips and Kelly got…(more)

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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)

Whatever became of Berkeley’s neighborhood-serving retail?

Editorial by Becky o’Malley : berkeleyplanet – excerpt

Having lived in university towns for all of my adult life, I am very conscious of the difference in atmosphere when most of the students go home for summer vacation. One obvious benefit is that parking becomes infinitely easier. Yes, yes, I know that we’re not supposed to be driving, even those of us who are over 75 and a bit arthritic. Yes, I know that students never drive any more—well,hardly ever. It must be just a coincidence that many, many cars disappear from Berkeley streets in the summer—surely it’s not because the students are gone…

It will take more than inspiration to overcome what’s going wrong with small businesses in downtown Berkeley. They are getting evicted to make room for developments aimed at BART commuters to San Francisco, who will most likely do most of their purchasing in The City, and by UC offices for employees who drive in from distant suburbs with big box stores.

University Hardware, a stalwart for many years, was pushed or jumped from its wonderful location on University, complete with parking lot, to a dark and dreary car-free location on a side street. Now to add insult to injury the new store has lost access even for customers’ curbside pick-ups of large purchases to the city’s poorly conceptualized new bicycle routing.

There’s a host of similar examples of local businesses done wrong which give the lie to the perpetual myth of a Downtown Berkeley renaissance. Among other things, it’s past time to re-think Berkeley’s downtown area plan, which was jammed through by the previous city administration for the exclusive benefit of developers of mega apartment blocks for well-off consumers who’ll make their purchases elsewhere. A new and better plan would give much more respect to neighborhood-serving businesses and much less latitude to the smash-and-grab crowd who covet our downtown as potential building sites for commuter condos.

And don’t get me started on the way the University of California is sucking up downtown Berkeley as lebensraum for offices which don’t even pay property taxes. That’s a rant all its own, for another day… (more)

This story is repeating itself in communities all over California. The Berkeley story of disappearing local businesses is being exported to Napa County where the housing industry is getting ready to push the wineries out. What will tourists come for once the beautiful views, local wines and food are replaced by housing enclaves? What will people do with their time when the jobs are replaced by robots?

Community united against removal of care units from St. Luke’s Hospital

By : missionlocal – excerpt

Appalling, outrageous, inhumane, unacceptable, heartbreaking, tragic were all words that doctors, nurses and families of patients used on Wednesday to describe the closing of the skilled nursing and sub-acute units at St. Luke’s Hospital.

The remarks were made at a hearing in front of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting. It’s unclear if Board of Supervisors can prevent California Pacific Medical Center from closing the beds – a move that would impact 44 patients – but it was clear that the supervisors will try.

The units slated for closure care for patients with extreme health needs, such as patients requiring inhalation therapy or intravenous tube feeding. Closing the units means that the most vulnerable patients would have to be transferred to locations outside San Francisco, according to those who testified at the hearing.

“We now have no sub-acute beds in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, a co-sponsor of the hearing with Supervisor Ahsha Safai.

This means that patients with extreme health needs whose families live in San Francisco cannot receive care in San Francisco.

A speaker from the Department of Public Health said the city’s population is aging and if there is no change in the number of acute care units, there will only be 12 beds available per 12,000 people in the near future.

With an aging population the number of skilled nursing and sub-acute beds in hospitals should be increasing. However, the speaker from the Department of Public Health said that there is an “overall decline in skilled nursing beds.”…

 

“Patients are in jeopardy,” said Jane Sandoval, a registered nurse that has worked at St. Luke’s for 32 years. Moving them would mean moving them away from their families and support networks and from the nurses that they already know and trust. All the families are very happy with the service they have received at St. Luke’s and don’t want to move from there… (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)

Scott Wiener’s housing straw man

By Calvin Welch : 48hills – excerpt

The senator misses the point — and the facts — when he attacks people who don’t think the private market will solve our woes

State Senator Scott Wiener, in a recent blog posting, attacked nameless critics of his efforts to produce more market-rate housing by removing local governments from the approval process if those local areas failed to meet regionally determined “housing needs.” Since all localities in the state currently fail to meet these needs, his legislation would, in effect, deregulate housing development all over California, since most housing regulations exist at the local level…

What Does Work? The voters of San Francisco and the Bay Area have an answer: market controls to keep existing housing within reach and public subsidies to build new housing they and their neighbors can afford. As argued earlier on these pages, the passage of more than $1 billion in bonds and sales taxes to build homes affordable to moderate income earners and people at risk of homelessness or homeless is sound public policy. Moreover, the passage of rent control measures is a rational response to a red hot real estate market. Continued effort to regulate Airbnb and other short term rentals is critical — the 10,000 STR’s in San Francisco just about equals the current vacancy rate for apartments. Imagine what would happen to rents if the vacancy rate were doubled because un-registered Airbnb listings were placed back on the rental market…. (more)

Might it be cheaper and easier to give landlords a reason to stay in the game? What would it take to make being a landlord easier and less stressful? Money is not the only thing that motivates people. Onerous laws and regulations and jumping through hoops gets old real fast, convincing many people to get out of the rental business and just sit on the property. As long as the values are going up, why sell?

It’s a perfect storm’: homeless spike in rural California linked to Silicon Valley

by Lauren Hepler : theguardian – excerpt

The heartland best known for supplying nearly 25% of America’s food is experiencing a rise in homelessness that can be traced in part to the tech boom

t first glance, the rusted metal pens in the central California town of Patterson look like an open-air prison block. But for Devani Riggs, “the cages”, abandoned since the days they were used to store the bounty of the self-proclaimed apricot capital of the world, play a very different role.

“This one was mine. That one was Patty and Pete,” said Riggs, a 3o-year-old homeless woman, adding that dozens of people had slept in the cramped enclosures.

California’s Central Valley is best known for supplying nearly 25% of the country’s food, including 40% of the fruit and nuts consumed each year. Yet today, backcountry places such as Patterson, population 22,000, are experiencing an increase in homelessness that can be traced, in part, to an unlikely sounding source: Silicon Valley… (more)

Looks like we have to repeal Costa Hawkins for the sake of everyone in the state. The real estate bubble is destroying the lives of people all over, not just in Silicon Valley and the big cities. This is a marketing scheme and it needs to be exposed for what it is. Re-instating rent control should remove the tensions caused by real estate speculation that is tearing us apart.