S.F. Sets Affordable Housing Requirements, Cracks Down on Fraudulent Owner Move-In Evictions

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Joshua Sabatini
San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco clamped down on fraudulent owner move-in evictions Tuesday and after a six-month debate adopted new affordable housing requirements for developers — two issues that began with sharp political division but ended in unanimous votes.

Still, there was a lengthy debate over the details of how to crack down on illegal owner move-in evictions, and a narrow 6-5 vote rejected a tougher restriction on tenant buyout agreements.

The inclusionary housing law, which dates back to 2002, requires developers to contribute below-market-rate housing to provide housing for The City’s lower income residents.

The consensus amendments to the inclusionary law were arrived at through the work of an assembled negotiating team, including building trade officials, affordable housing developers, labor leaders and members of the board — mainly supervisors Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai and board President London Breed. The new requirements will likely remain in place for at least the next three to five years.

The law was thrust into the center of politics as The City climbed out of the 2008 recession and housing costs skyrocketed, moving housing out of reach for middle-income earners. San Francisco’s home sales are north of $1 million and rents for a one-bedroom average nearly $3,500 a month.

The deal sets new requirements for rental and ownership development and sets in-lieu fees.

Onsite rental projects of 25 or more units, for example, must provide 18 percent of the units at below-market-rate, of which 10 percent must go to those earning between 40 percent and 65 percent of area median income.

Four percent of the units must go toward those earning 65 percent and 90 percent of the area median income, and 4 percent for those who earn between 90 and 130 percent at area median income.

The 18 percent would increase by 1 percent in each of the next two years beginning in January 2018, which would be added to the 10 percent bucket only.

In future years, beginning in 2020, the percentage would increase for the remaining two buckets at 0.5 percent.

The legislation was approved by the Board of Supervisors in an 11-0 vote. It comes after voters approved Proposition C in June 2016, which took the inclusionary law out of the city charter — where it was placed by voters during the recession — and allowed the board to make changes. That ballot measure, brought before voters by supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin, set the rate at 15 percent for low income — up from 12 percent — and 10 percent for middle income residents.

The Prop. C rates will remain in place for three areas in The City: the Mission, North of Market and Sixth Street.

“We had a little pushing and shoving but we came to, I think, a healthy consensus,” Peskin said of the deal. “It is our job to capture the maximum number that we can and still allow market-rate development to occur.”

Kim said that “it took hours and hours of meetings and a lot of debates and negotiations.”

“We wanted to see developers contribute the most that they can to affordable and middle income housing,” Kim said.

Prior to the meeting, Safai said he heeded the advice from former state Sen. Mark Leno, who passed the first inclusionary housing law when a member of the Board of Supervisors in 2002. Leno, Safai said, called him at the start of the process and advised him the key was to arrive at a consensus. Safai stuck to that principle.

“We have major funding streams for families that are considered extremely low-income, but we have not for a significant amount of time really addressed the need for workforce housing and those that are in the moderate to middle income. Our middle-income housing has disappeared,” Safai said during the meeting.

Safai had angered many low-income tenant advocates for initially proposing an equal division of the percentages of the required affordable housing among low, middle and moderate income earners, but negotiations ultimately tilted the balance toward lower income renters.

A trailing piece of legislation related to requirements of unit size will come before the board at a later date.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Mark Farrell’s legislation cracking down on fraudulent owner move-in evictions was approved to require owners to sign a declaration under penalty of perjury that they will not violate the requirements and submit proof of the owner’s tenancy annually for five years.

The legislation also enacts a private right of action, allowing nonprofit tenants’ rights attorneys to file lawsuits against property owners over illegal ower-move in evictions. A competing proposal by Kim and Peskin helped tenant advocates negotiate with Farrell to achieve the private right of action.

The progressive board members unsuccessfully tried to invalidate the waiving of the rights of tenants in buyout agreements if they weren’t filed as required to the Rent Board, but the moderates, who defeated the measure in a 6-5 vote, said that was a separate issue and should be discussed at a later time.

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