Tech must support Ellis reforms

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EDITORIAL

San Francisco is facing an eviction crisis, a reality that politicians of all ideological stripes have finally begun to address. It was good to see our two best representatives to the California Legislature introduce bills to reform the Ellis Act in the last week, but these will be empty gestures unless the political class and its allies in the technology industry and the larger business community step up and offer strong support for the effort.

This is a small but difficult first step in addressing the displacement that is hurting the city's diversity and driving out its working class. San Francisco is one of the few cities in the California that has rent control, which the Ellis Act was designed by landlords and the real estate industry to subvert.

So the political dynamics of reforming the Ellis Act are difficult in Sacramento, and it will take business community support to get this done. Twitter and other SF-based tech companies have gotten big local tax breaks to stay here, while Google and other Silicon Valley companies use San Francisco to house their high-paid employees, both feeding the frenzy of real estate speculation behind the current eviction epidemic.

This is their chance to show that they want to be a part of San Francisco's community, rather than just seeing this city as a resource to exploit for their own ends.

In introducing his Senate Bill 1439 outside a Chinatown apartment building on Feb. 24, Sen. Mark Leno cited city figures showing that more than 300 apartments were cleared of residents using the Ellis Act in 2013, more than half of those involving landlords who owned the building for less than a year, half of those for less than six months.

"These are not the landlords the Ellis Act was designed to help," Mayor Ed Lee said in support of SB 1439.

Leno's bill would require landlords to own a building for at least five years before using the Ellis Act to evict tenants. Assemblymember Tom Ammiano also introduced a bill on Feb. 21, Assembly Bill 2405, which would allow San Francisco voters or the Board of Supervisors to declare a moratorium on Ellis Act evictions if city affordable housing goals aren't met.

Both are small, sensible reforms that would easily pass in a society less consumed by greed than ours is now. Tech leaders should welcome the opportunity to show they understand what's happening in this city and have compassion for those being displaced, rather than tacitly supporting the real estate speculators.

But it's also just a first step. The Ellis Act needs to be repealed, not just reformed. More than 1,000 rent control units have been lost in San Francisco in the last two years, affordable housing converted into speculators' profits. This must end, or the righteous populist anger that is consuming the city will only get worse.

 

Comments

for any Ellis Act evictions?

Ellis evictions happen because some rental buildings are not viable, and not because some people work in any one industry.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

Eh, "not viable"? That's a vague generality that has little to do with reality if I ever heard one. Ellis evictions happen because greedy speculators want to flip properties at the expense of other people's lives...and in SF Ellis evictions about "viability" are non-existant. Just because a law permits those evictions doesn't make it ethical.

Posted by Lease on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

You have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by Snoozers on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 8:06 pm

building are not competitive with the available returns from comparable investments, and so the business needs to be closed down and the capital redeployed more efficiently.

It has nothing to do with who owns the building or who lives there.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 8:13 am

Speculators built every building in this town you brain dead idiot. Stinking "housing activists" built nothing, they just try to steal property from the rightful owners.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

Rent is temporary…. ONLY MORONS don't realize this fact.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

There is no ellis eviction crisis. Even if you tripled the number of ellis act evictions in SF you dont come close to 1% of the population.

The SFBG is not in any position to dictate what "tech" must or must not do.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 9:53 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 10:19 am

Ellis act evictions happen because SOME WORKERS WANT TO BECOME HOME OWNERS AND NOT SLAVES TO LANDLORDS.

Ellis act evictions happen because of RENT CONTROL.

Ellis act evictions happen because LANDLORDS ARE SICK A TIRED OF DEALING WITH TENANTS WHO THINK THEY ARE ENTITLED TO PAY LOW BELOW MARKET RENT FOR LIFE.

Ellis act evictions happen because IT'S NOT PUBLIC PROPERTY OWNED BY THE COMMONS...IT'S PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNED BY PRIVATE CITIZENS.

Posted by Aformersflandlord on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 10:40 am

Ellis act evictions happen because SOME WORKERS WANT TO BECOME HOME OWNERS AND NOT SLAVES TO LANDLORDS.

Ellis act evictions happen because of RENT CONTROL.

Ellis act evictions happen because LANDLORDS ARE SICK A TIRED OF DEALING WITH TENANTS WHO THINK THEY ARE ENTITLED TO PAY LOW BELOW MARKET RENT FOR LIFE.

Ellis act evictions happen because IT'S NOT PUBLIC PROPERTY OWNED BY THE COMMONS...IT'S PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNED BY PRIVATE CITIZENS.

Posted by Aformersflandlord on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 10:37 am

All the meth heads here are beyond rational thought…..

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

Please landlords Ellis act all your units and sell the units to reasonable, hard working good people. We need to rid the city of Meth addicts and entitled trash. It's what jesus would do. besides if you wait any longer the city is going to seize your property for real and you will be paid nothing.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

So basically the only way to stop being a landlord is to burn the building down? Gee that's just dandy SFBG…...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

is a very real risk that property owners would rather destroy their properties than be stuck forever with low-rent life-long losers.

But typically the State intervenes before that happens to slap down the city and it's excesses and extremism.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

"1,000 rent control units have been lost in San Francisco in the last two years, affordable housing converted into speculators' profits".

No, they are properties reclaimed by the rightful owners !!! People who belong in these properties live in them now. Not greedy rent control thieves ! RENT CONTROL IS GREEDY THEFT.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

higher, perhaps as high as 4000-5000.

It's not just the TIC and condo conversions. It's the removal of illegal units, the merging of existing units, the demolition of buildings that are dangerous, the change of use to owner-occupancy or short-term letting and, in many cases, simply leaving the units vacant rather than risk getting a "loser lifer".

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:46 pm

Thats the truth, nothing lost and everything gained for honest working people.. but if your a parasite…..

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

Why are tech works too blame for stupid life choices losers made? Like deciding to rent instead of buying property? YOU FOOLS RENTED, it's your fault alone you idiots!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

The Russian Revolution of 1917 that failed to satisfy the ideals of most was also an uncooperative and conflicting collection of disparate social groups, from anarchists to royalists. Domino theory was an American invention resulting from “Cold War” paranoia, and therefore, legend. The same is unlikely to manifest itself in San Francisco where conceit instead of ideal prevails in a more fractious social milieu than that of 1917 Russia. Last, the idea of “righteous populist anger that is consuming the city,” mentioned, is either evocation or romanticism, but certainly fiction.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

Thanks for playing, and don't quit your day job.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

"This must end, or the righteous populist anger that is consuming the city will only get worse."

Nice little tech business you've got here. Hate to see something happen to it...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

bigger, better and more profitable.

I just hate success, don't you?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

Actually, Tech should support an increase in Ellis Act evictions =>

More homeownership. Fewer Luddites.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 10:44 pm

If I had a buliding to Ellis, I'd join in. All this publicity from the tenant activists about owners making lots of profits is enticing.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 8:05 pm

No eviction epidemic.

There were only 2 Ellis Act filings in January of 2014 (4 units).

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

It's a marginal issue hyped up for political reasons

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

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