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Through the cracks journalism

The latest catch.

Tenants face absurd lawsuits as “low-fault” evictions increase

September 21, 2014

By : sfbg – excerpt

An annual report issued by the Eviction Defense Collaborative (EDC) highlights some of the outrageous reasons landlords use to evict tenants. Since 2009, EDC reported, there’s been a 62 percent increase in the number of breach-of-lease cases citywide.

Violations cited in the report included offenses such as “parking outside the parking lines,” or even cooking during nighttime hours…

The rise in “low-fault” evictions in 2013 occurred on a parallel track with no-fault evictions, which have received a great deal of media attention. Evictions that are based on an alleged action or violation by a tenant, as opposed to no-fault evictions initiated under the Ellis Act, for instance, grant less time for a tenant to vacate their unit. They’re easier on landlord’s wallets and don’t restrict subsequent use of a unit.

Low-fault evictions, or minor breach-of-lease cases, are providing the ideal platform for landlords to oust their tenants while still claiming some type of violation, the report indicates. The lengthy, complicated suits are often difficult for tenants to defend themselves against.

The EDC report showed an absence of court appearances in 38 percent of the 3,423 Residential Unlawful Detainers cases in 2013, demonstrating that tenants did not respond to the eviction notice in within the five-day deadline.

“Tenants just miss this narrow window,” said Tyler McMillan, executive director of the EDC. “It’s one of the shortest timelines in the court system.”…

“The story of increasing “low-fault” evictions is one that impacts some of San Francisco’s most vulnerable communities and ultimately threatens the diversity that makes San Francisco so unique,” the EDC report said.

The full report is available online at the EDC website here(more)


Poll slams city planning — and suggests the voters are ready for a new approach to development

September 19, 2014

By Tim Redmond : 48hillsonline – excerpt

SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 — Mayor Ed Lee’s Planning Department gets poor marks for its response to the city’s development boom, and a stunning 91 percent of likely voters think it’s important to protect small businesses and artists from displacement, an poll released this week shows.

The poll, commissioned by Tenants and Owners Development Company and conducted by David Binder and Associates, shows considerable unhappiness with the impacts of the tech-driven boom.

And it suggests that Lee, and other elected officials who are presiding over and encouraging the rapid growth of tech offices and market-rate housing, have a seriously political vulnerability.

On the other hand, it shows strong support for Prop. K, the proposal by Lee and Sup. Jane Kim that would set as city policy that 33 percent of all new housing is affordable.

The poll of 400 likely voters has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Just 36 percent of the respondents said the Planning Department was doing a good job responding to the tech boom and is preparing the city for good economic results in the future. Another 46 percent said they disapprove of the department’s approach.

“When I presented it to the Planning Commission, I said that 36 percent is pretty bad,” John Elberling, the president of TODCO, told me … (more)

We know there is a displacement problem of small businesses, artists, and PDRs, but a 91% disapproval rating indicates a very sophisticated level of understanding of the process among those included in the poll. It would be helpful to have a little more information about the people who were included in this poll in order to more clearly read the results.




District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen Introduces Legislation to Preserve PDR Space

September 19, 2014

By Keith Burbank : potreroview – excerpt

Earlier this summer, District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen introduced an ordinance to close a loophole that would otherwise allow production, distribution and repair (PDR) space to be converted to office use. Current zoning law allows property owners to shift a building designated for PDR use to office space if it receives historic status. The ordinance would protect PDR-1-D and PDR-1-G districts, many of which are located in the Mission, Dogpatch and Bayview-Hunters Point. A PDR-1-D district promotes design-related and other businesses with less intensive production, distribution and repair operations. PDR-1-G districts are set aside for a general class of PDR businesses, such as outpatient clinics, service stations doing minor auto repair, breweries and greenhouses, among others.  

“I believe that this legislation strikes the right balance between allowing higher revenue uses, such as office space, and supporting the maintenance of these historic buildings without displacing long-term tenants or cannibalizing an entire PDR building,” Cohen said. “Now, you’ve heard me time and time again stress the value of PDR and the value that it brings to our City because it provides essential blue-collar jobs and diversity to our City’s economy… not addressing this issue, I believe, would lead us down a path of undercutting all the work that we’ve done collectively to support a growing local manufacturing industry right here in San Francisco.” … (more)

This is a good step in the right direction as far as protecting PRDS and the industries that rely on them. Other Supervisors are attempting similar protective measures in other districts, such as Jane Kim’s moves to protect the Flower Market. City authorities have discarded the protections a historic resource designation used to offer, and most of these properties are being destroyed to make room for the ugly new stack and pack housing that lacks any character and is devoid of the old San Francisco charm.

The number of, music, live entertainment, art galleries and dance studios that have closed is staggering. Who will step forward to protect what remains? There is a long list of pending closures that will decimate the artistic community. What will be left to draw tourists to San Francisco when there is no art in North Beach, no cultural center in the Mission and no jazz clubs in the Fillmore?

The famous views were the first to go. We have already lost most of them and there is no interest in saving the ones we have left. Why will tourists come to San Francisco? To rent bikes and sip coffee in parklets on Valencia and Polk? Dine on expensive food, shop in our department stores and overpay for lodging? What can you purchase in SF’s Chinatown that you can’t get in LA or Cleveland? How many people will return to wait in long lines to walk across the Gold Gate Bridge or eat overpriced hotdogs at the Giants stadium after spending 2 hours getting to there? I’ll take Paris or Seattle. At least they still have views.

Lawsuit alleges Tenderloin single room occupancy hotel rooms rented through Airbnb

September 17, 2014

by Peter Lawrence Kane : bolditalic – excerpt

Single-room occupancy hotels, the last vestiges of affordable housing for San Francisco’s poorest residents, are apparently now being rented out to people on vacation through Airbnb. According to the Examiner, a class-action lawsuit in SF Superior Court last week claims illegal short-term stays at the 62-room Sheldon Hotel at 629 Post, arguably just close enough to pass the bullshit test if it’s advertised as “Union Square.” (It’s happening in Chinatown as well.) City code currently prohibits such hotelization. You can’t rent a unit for less than 30 days if the building has more than four units, nor can you rent an SRO for less than seven days – although there is an exception during the winter months (most likely to help keep the homeless out of the cold and rain.)

To be clear, the claimants in this case aren’t being evicted. Their complaint cites increased noise and foot traffic from Airbnb guests. This may sound like a flimsy pretext for a lawsuit, but the real point may be to draw attention to and halt the management’s reduction of the housing supply. If you can’t find a place to live because affordable rooms are being rented out possibly in violation of the city code, it helps to have activists getting creative to sue on your behalf… (more)

Examiner article with documents

San Francisco Protesters Are Slapping Neon Green Stickers On Airbnb Rentals

September 16, 2014

By Joey Cosco : businessinsider – excerpt

Protesters gathered in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood Tuesday to protest both Ellis Act evictions and Airbnb.

The protest was sparked when several renters were “Ellised” from their Mason Street residence, which was then converted to full-time short-term rentals. The organizers of the event maintained that this is not just a moral issue, but also a legal one.

“These are illegal units, and the city needs to do something,” said Sarah Sherbum-Zimmer of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco during the protest.

After speaking in front of more than a dozen protesters, the group began marching through the North Beach neighborhood, placing neon-colored warning stickers signifying a building is being used for illegal short-term rentals through Airbnb or similar services…

Director of the San Francisco Tenant’s Union Ted Gullicksen agreed with Sherbum-Zimmer, saying, “We need an aggressive enforcement campaign quickly. We need some high profile lawsuits.”

And while they may not be the high profile suits Gullicksen is talking about, the union itself has filed 10 lawsuits against landlords and plans to file 40 more this week. He says the group wants to send a message to landlords that relying on short-term rentals rather than renting to city residents is not okay…

Gullicksen explained that these operations actually violate two separate San Francisco laws: one prohibiting short-term property rentals in any capacity, and another stopping landlords from operating hotels outside of specifically zoned areas. The buildings on Mason Street technically fit the city’s definition for hotel, the Tenant’s Union director said… (more)

Airbnb Has Banned The Condo Squatters For Life
A 30-Year-Old Law Is Creating A Crisis In San Francisco 


Homeless Camps, RV’s Roll Into Potrero Hill Neighborhood To Avoid Ban On Large Vehicles

September 11, 2014

Originally posted on Meter Madness:

cbslocal – excerpt

Anger is growing in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood as homeless camps and trash-filled RV’s invade the streets.

San Francisco recently started a new program making it illegal to park large vehicles like RV’s in forty designated areas of the city. But, a span of the Potrero Hill neighborhood called the Design District anchored by 16th and Vermont Streets is not part of program… (more)

View original

Muir Beach fight illustrates National Park Service tension

September 7, 2014

By Peter Fimrite : sfgate – excerpt

The freethinkers and eccentrics who live in the tiny, eclectic community of Muir Beach have united with other Marin County residents in a bitter struggle against what they see as an enduring threat to the culture and fabric of their fog-shrouded coastal village – government meddling.

The National Park Service wants to ease what everyone agrees is a growing traffic and parking problem in and around Muir Woods while still providing access to the internationally famous national monument.

But the folks in this isolated beachfront community 2 miles from the entrance to Muir Woods have become increasingly unsettled by what they perceive, rightly or wrongly, as attempts by the Park Service to run roughshod over their interests and funnel busloads of tourists into the already-crowded cove… (more)

First they bring in the tour buses, then they bring in the developers and investors. Keep the park as it is with a limited amount of traffic and parking for private vehicles an a few buses if you want to preserve the park for the public.


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