With housing costs skyrocketing, rent control is on the docket again in Sacramento

By Andrew Khouri : 48hills – excerpt

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Amid California’s housing crisis, several state lawmakers want to give cities the ability to dramatically expand rent control, including imposing the kind of strict limits that once existed in Santa Monica and West Hollywood but have been barred since the 1990s.

A bill that would do so, introduced last month, marks the most significant move yet in a growing movement to cap skyrocketing rents as California’s economy booms and housing production lags.

Protests over the high cost of housing and aggressive landlord tactics have erupted in Los Angeles and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. And voters in two cities up north passed new limits on rent increases in November, seeing them as a way to stop dramatic hikes that have displaced lower- and middle-income households.

But cities can only go so far in capping rents — something AB 1506 seeks to change.

“The momentum is very much on the side of rent control,” said Dean Preston, executive director of the statewide renters group Tenants Together(more)

The key here is that the repeal throws responsibility back to the local jurisdictions. That is why the slogan is: “Let the Cities Decide”, or let the citizens elect officials that represent their interests and allow them to decide. If you feel the local jurisdictions should decide how to manage rental housing instead of the state, you will want to support AB 1506. Contact your local state reps to let them know how you feel.  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

 

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Real Estate Execs Disrupt Nonprofit Housing

By Toshio Meronek : sfweekly – excerpt

There’s a stealthy way developers get approval to build, build, build.

Hiding behind the scenes of many nonprofit housing organizations are corporate real estate professionals…

Over the past few years, the real estate industry has been cozying up to organizations that exist to help the poorest San Franciscans. It’s not well-known, but many of the nonprofits responsible for housing thousands of low-income San Franciscans and managing millions of dollars in public funding are run by people involved in real estate development, raising the question of whether, for example, an executive from Wells Fargo should be making decisions that affect some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

This conflict of interest can be stressful for tenants…

“We have no say,” says Phyllis Bowie, who lives at Midtown Apartments, a 139-unit complex in the Fillmore that’s managed by the city’s largest housing nonprofit, Mercy Housing

But renters do have allies. Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee ensures that residents get heard over the blare of executives, who he believes have an agenda that puts profits first on the priority list, with tenants toward the bottom…

San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation and the YIMBY Party attempted to win enough member votes to take over the board of the local Sierra Club chapter, but failed in their efforts…

MHDC, BRIDGE, and the board of Mercy Housing — which puts out the majority of the city’s affordable housing — signed on to support local state Senator and ex-Sup. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 35, which in practice could fast-track majority market-rate residential projects…

No big surprise: Sierra Club, Causa Justa, and the Housing Action Committee all opposed SB 35…

The 16th Street BART station could be home to what opponents have dubbed the “Monster in the Mission,” a new 10-story complex that would change the entire landscape of the neighborhood. (Only 42 of its 330 units are considered affordable.)…(more)

Good article with a lot of information. Unfortunately, most of the news is bad. If you care, you can still work on campaigns to replace the pro developer supervisors and state reps. The DCCC delegate election proved that people can make a difference if they get out and vote. The word that everyone is avoiding using is the word that most non-partisan groups agree is the problem with the Plan Bay Area and that word is gentrification. Look for someone with a plan to deal with rising property rates. Otherwise they do not have a feasible plan.

 

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)

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)