New plan threatens rent control laws

November 9, 2009 6:48:47 PM PST
There may be a major change coming to the San Francisco law protecting renters from eviction. One city supervisor has a controversial plan.

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San Francisco is a tale of two cities when it comes to renters. Those who live in old Victorians and other buildings built at least 30 years ago and then everybody else.

Supervisor John Avalos says his proposal will level the playing field.

An estimated 60 to 65 percent of San Franciscans rent rather than own. Those who live in buildings built before 1979 enjoy price controls and anti-eviction protections.

Those protections, so-called "just cause evictions," specify 15 reasons a landlord can kick out a tenant. They include non-payment of rent, violation of the lease agreement and owner move-ins. Tenants that live in newer buildings can be tossed out basically at the whim of the landlord with a 30 or 60-day notice and no reason given.

Myriam Zamora says many people she knows have been evicted that way.

"I don't know what is going to happen to me," she told ABC7.

Supervisor John Avalos wants one standard, covering basically all 340,000 rental units in the city. A hearing was held on his proposal Monday.

"I think it just makes good public policy," he says.

He says it is also a way to protect people from foreclosures, but Janan New, the head of the San Francisco Apartment Association, says the Avalos proposal will discourage new apartment construction because the anti-eviction protections are a burden for landlords.

She says, "They are extremely costly and complex for owners. And, adding another layer on how difficult it is to do business in San Francisco anyway, is just something a developer is not going to want to deal with."

The proposed measure does not extend rent control. Landlords with newer buildings would still have the right to raise the rent. Andrew Long, who owns rental property in the mission, says he might just get out of the rental business.

"I think it is a horrible idea and it is going to backfire terribly on the City of San Francisco," he says.

There was so much debate Monday that another hearing will be held later this month before a vote is taken.

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