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Why it’s Legal for a Bernal Heights Landlord to Quadruple This Woman’s Rent (Updated)

March 26, 2015

by Noah Sanders : thebolditalic – excerpt

San Francisco resident Deb Follingstad began a recent Facebook post with a phrase commonly heard in San Francisco these days: “I need a place to live.” Common, but not so surprising as rents skyrocket and landlords use evasive techniques to sidestep strict regulations for pre-existing tenants, then offload their properties to developers for six and seven figures. Your friends, maybe your families, are butting up against a system that puts profit over person, one in which we find ourselves putting up with the bare minimum that housing can offer because, well, it’s all we can afford. Follingstad’s case, as described in her March 14 Facebook post, might just be the proverbial cake-taker…

On March 2, Follingstad received a letter from her landlord’s attorney (see above) informing her that rent would jump from her current rate of $2,145 per month to — take a breath, maybe a seat — $8,900 per month, roughly a 400 percent increase. On top of this, the letter also informs Follingstad that if she wants to continue living in the space, she’ll be required to pay a new security deposit of — again, are you seated? — $12,500. That means that by the beginning of Follingstad’s next rent cycle, she’ll owe $19,255 more than she usually pays each month.

Even more infuriating, none of this is illegal. Rent control in San Francisco is dependent on, among other things, the number of “families” the residence is zoned to hold. Follingstad lives in a two-unit residence; a man named “Wayne,” a resident for 25 years, lived below her. The continuous occupation of two zoned living spaces ensured rent control. That is, until Deb’s landlord removed the kitchen and bathroom from Wayne’s living space and deemed it a “storage” room, effectively giving a legal reason why Wayne could no longer live there. Even worse, without Wayne in the building, the residence was now only zoned for a single family unit, removing it from the auspices of rent control laws and giving the landlord free rein to jack up the rent and security deposit well above market price. And unless Follingstad has a nice nest egg, it’s clear she’s going to be seeking a new home in the near future. (I was unable to contact her for this story)…

Update: Jeremy Pollock, a legislative aide for supervisor John Avalos, sent The Bold Italic the following email: “It seems pretty clear to me that if the landlord did remove the downstairs apartment, they didn’t get a permit for it, which makes it an illegal merger. There’s no record of any merger permits in Planning’s system. We’ve asked Planning Department staff to look into this.”(more)

Supes explore increased regulations on Airbnb and Leap

March 25, 2015

By sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s booming technology industry is keeping business regulation at the forefront of the Board of Supervisors’ political debates.

One supervisor on Tuesday introduced legislation that would increase regulations on Airbnb. Another called for a hearing exploring the need to regulate Leap.

This month, high-ranking planning officials told a Board of Supervisors committee they couldn’t enforce the short-term rental law without changes to the regulations. The comments came just one month after the so-called Airbnb law went into effect.

On Tuesday, Supervisor David Campos introduced legislation he said would address the enforcement challenges expressed by the planning officials with a set of five new requirements.

Campos’ return to the short-term rental debate comes as there’s also an effort underway to place a measure on the November ballot that would impose stricter controls on short-term rentals.

“The fact is that unless we are able to enforce the laws we pass, the laws [are] becoming meaningless,” Campos said. “That is exactly what has happened to the Airbnb law.”

The proposal for increased regulation incorporates pretty much all of the ideas that were scrapped during the contentious debate last year over legalizing short-term rentals… (more)

And let’s not forget the efforts underway in Sacramento to overturn everything our local politicians do to attempt some regulatory enforcement. A list of bills: and contacts:

Silicon Valley to millennials: Drop dead

March 24, 2015

(CNN)We have no problem taking Wall Street executives to task for decisions that leave American families financially devastated, yet we give Silicon Valley billionaires a pass when they do the same thing. America needs to realize that instead of creating jobs, Silicon Valley is erasing them, leaving millennials financially stranded before their careers can get off the ground.

Silicon Valley is tossing millennials aside like yesterday’s laptop.

The commonly held belief is that with hard work and a good education, a young person in America can get a good job. But despite falling unemployment, college grads age 22 to 27 are stuck in low-paying jobs that don’t even require a college degree. The percentage of young people languishing in low-skill, low-paying jobs is 44%, a 20-year high….

n fact, the percentage of people under 30 who own private businesses has reached a 24-year low. Garages across the country are not exactly humming with millennials launching tech startups.

But wait — won’t the digital economy eventually lead to better jobs? After a period of adjustment, won’t things get better? Unfortunately that’s not the path we’re on. One of the biggest misconceptions about the digital economy is that for every middle-class job rendered obsolete by technology, there’s a new, equally good (or better) job created by Silicon Valley.

But exactly the opposite is happening. The digital economy is vaporizing the good jobs and replacing them with two kinds of jobs: minimum wage jobs (think Amazon warehouse employees) and so-called “sharing-economy jobs” (think Uber drivers)…

This “winner-take-all” digital economy is not sustainable. People on both sides of the political spectrum are worried. Liberal luminary Robert Reich, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and former secretary of labor under Bill Clinton, calls the sharing economy the “share-the-scraps” economy. Speaking of tech companies that utilize on-demand labor, such as Uber, Instacart and Taskrabbit, he says, “The big money goes to the corporations that own the software. The scraps go to the on-demand workers.”…

And if you think your own job is safe, think again. New research predicts that nearly half of all jobs are susceptible to automation over the next two decades. This is a giant leap backward, but it’s deceptively described as technological “progress.” As anyone who’s talked to an automated system on the phone lately can attest, “automated” usually means “worse.”…

There’s no easy fix, but we can do three things immediately. First, we can stop glorifying tech titans and start talking openly about Silicon Valley’s questionable tactics and its real job creation record (i.e., just follow the numbers). Second, we can encourage more lawsuits against the abusive practices of “sharing-economy” powerhouses. Third, we can elect leaders who are vocal about holding Silicon Valley accountable for their power over the entire American workforce, including white-collar employees… (more)

Show us the Money

March 20, 2015

By Ted Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Or rather, developers should show us how much they’re going to make on a  project — and then we can talk about fair affordable housing and community benefits.

MARCH 19, 2015 — There’s a little-known provision of the San Francisco Sunshine ordinance — written back in the days when big developers were constantly asking the city for tax breaks, free land, or other handouts – that says those goodies have to come with a price.

Here’s the language of Section 67.32:

The city shall give no subsidy in money, tax abatements, land, or services to any private entity unless that private entity agrees in writing to provide the city with financial projections (including profit and loss figures), and annual audited financial statements for the project thereafter, for the project upon which the subsidy is based and all such projections and financial statements shall be public records that must be disclosed.

In other words, if you say you can’t make a project work without public subsidy, we want to see the numbers.

We probably could have raised the issue during the Twitter Tax Break discussions, but it would have been tricky: The mid-market tax abatement wasn’t for a specific project. And these days, what developers tend to ask for – which we (foolishly, in hindsight) didn’t put in the law – is favorable zoning.

Now what we get is demands for special height-limit exemptions, greater density, changes of use – the sorts of things that are often far more valuable than cash subsidies. I’m not a lawyer, and nobody has argued, as far as I know, that Section 67.32 ought to apply to spot zoning or other special land-use treatment (including change-of-use designations). Maybe that’s a legal case to be made.

But there’s a larger public-policy case to be made for this piece of San Francisco statute, and it comes into play with projects like the 16th and Mission development… (more)

Read more…

Plan Bay Area smart growth policies, that remove restrictions on developers, are blamed for high property values and displacement

March 19, 2015


Who’s Future? What does the regional “Plan Bay Area” Really Mean for San Francisco?

Planning Displacement

THE GREAT DEBATE “The Plan Bay Area” San Rafael, CA May 30, 2012

Social Engineering: 1 Plan Bay Area 

Social Engineering: 2 The Great Market Research Scandal 

The Plan Bay Area Public Outreach Meeting – By Common Sense

Housing Controversy in Marin

Citizen Marin

Bringing Redevelopment Back

The Swedish experiment ended badly

California Declares War on Suburbia

Detailed Comments on The Plan Bay Area Draft EIR Statement by Wendell Cox.pdf


BART and the death of stack and Pack Housing

Bay Area Liberty

San Francisco, L.A. lawsuit against Uber stirs backlash

March 19, 2015

: Sharelines : latimes – excerpt

The larger issue at play in Uber lawsuit is the government’s role in the sharing economy

The government’s lawsuit against ride-hailing upstart Uber has stirred a fierce backlash from advocates who fear regulation could put the brakes on innovation.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles counties — George Gascon and Jackie Lacey — seeking an injunction against Uber to stop what they contend are fraudulent pricing practices and misleading public statements about driver safety, among other complaints.

“We urge policymakers not to be a barrier to innovation,” said Gary Toebben, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, calling for “productive conversations” with ride-sharing companies.

Brian Wise of the free market advocacy group the U.S. Consumer Coalition issued a statement titled, “Gov’t Declaring War on Uber.” The government, he said, “needs to back off.”…

The larger issue at play is the government’s role in the so-called sharing economy, not only ride-hailing services but also lodging match-up services such as AirBnB.

Consumers are apt to wonder just what kind of regulations are placed on a company where a willing rider is matched up through a smartphone app with a willing stranger in a personal vehicle….

In the state Legislature, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks), whose ride-sharing safety regulation bill was defeated last year, said Wednesday that he plans to introduce a similar bill in the next session that will be “at the bare minimum, exactly the same as where we left off with the previous bill.”

The bill would have required ride-hailing drivers be enrolled in a DMV employer pull notice program, undergo a fingerprint-based background check and participate in a drug testing program. Nazarian said he’s considering adding other safety provisions to the bill… (more)

Approval for Giants’ Mission Rock hinges on housing mix, poll shows

March 18, 2015

By sfexaminer – excerpt

San Franciscans are OK with new development and will even approve tall buildings near The City’s waterfront, but on one condition. Affordability. A recent poll showed “overwhelming support” for “decisive city action” to require new developments to have 33 percent of residential units offered at below market rate — including the Giants’ proposed makeover of parking lots and Port of San Francisco property south of AT&T Park into a new neighborhood anchored by 380-foot towers.

In fact, without such a guarantee, ambitious construction projects like the Giants’ Mission Rock might not happen at all, according to the poll…

And developers, including the Giants, “are definitely listening” to the public, Elberling said. However, the Giants have reportedly had discussions about increasing below-market-rate housing at Mission Rock, Elberling said. Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said the organization had no comment. Other developers have had success convincing voters to approve construction projects. Forest City’s plans to redevelop the old Union Iron Works at Pier 70 received 72 percent approval in November’s election… (more)


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