Rent Control Loophole Closed

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

Until this week, it was perfectly legal for new landlords to pass on their property taxes and debt services to rent-controlled tenants.

It’s been a bad month for Veritas. The massive real-estate corporation — which owns more than 250 apartment buildings citywide — was the subject of a ruthless City Hall hearing on May 16, where dozens of tenants took the mic to complain about squalid living conditions, unexplained rent increases, and never-ending construction. Sup. Jeff Sheehy, who called the hearing out of concern over the company’s business practices, called Veritas unethical for making “people’s lives unlivable.”

If you’re into Schadenfreude, it was highly entertaining to watch Veritas’ representatives squirm on the stand. But the hearing ended without any clear calls to action, essentially offering little more than a public finger-wagging at a company that’s been pushing rent-controlled tenants out through sneaky, barely-legal tactics for years.

This week, Sup. Sandra Fewer took the admonishments a step further. On Tuesday, she introduced legislation to the Board of Supervisors that would block one of Veritas’ sneakiest legal loopholes: passing on debt services and property taxes from newly-purchased buildings to the tenants who live there. In a rare show of solidarity, the Board approved the legislation unanimously, without a single amendment.

The legislation targets “operational and maintenance pass-throughs,” called O&Ms in tenant-rights circles. Under current law, large-scale property owners can use these pass-throughs to legally raise someone’s rent, even if they live in a rent-controlled unit. Each increase is reviewed (and nearly always approved) by the city’s Rent Board, and often adds around $70 to $200 to someone’s monthly rent… (more)

 

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SF Mayor Ed Lee’s legacy: Economic boost that exacerbated income inequality

By Carolyn Said : sfchronicle – excerpt (includes graphics)

By almost every measure, San Francisco’s economy boomed during Mayor Ed Lee’s six-year tenure, adding jobs, companies, housing and office space. Of course, that also exacerbated the city’s well-known issues: income disparity, congestion and transportation, and lack of affordable housing.

Whoever takes over at City Hall will inherit a vastly different climate than what Lee faced in January 2011 when the city and country were emerging from a brutal recession and local unemployment stood at 8.9 percent, higher than it was during the dot-com bust. It’s now an impressive 2.7 percent, among the lowest in the country.

San Francisco under Lee became even more of a mecca for technology, cementing its cachet as the nation’s startup capital. The number of venture-backed startups here more than doubled during his administration, while the number of tech jobs tripled.

San Francisco and Silicon Valley don’t have a hard border, or even a soft border,” said Terry Connelly, dean emeritus of Golden Gate University. “They’re one and the same. That’s a big change, and that happened under Ed Lee.”...(more)

The legacy of Mayor Ed Lee includes the huge impact his enthusiasm for sports and arenas had on the culture shift in San Francisco away from liberal, progressive humanitarian politics toward a much more competitive reach for gold. The increase in the tax base through fast-rising real estate valuations, has not been sufficient to off-set the damage done to our most vulnerable citizens who are losing their homes as the wealthy flood in to displace them. Solving this conundrum will be the job of the next mayor. San Francisco citizens must demand a plan of action before choosing the next Mayor as this will be the most important task. All candidates should prepare to show us their plans.

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