Archive for December, 2005

Stopping the evictions?

An editorial in this week’s Guardian (yes, I know) applauds Chris Daly’s efforts to stop evictions, and mistakenly calls this a good idea

“Daly’s bill, which cleared the Land Use Committee Dec. 14 and will go before the full board Jan. 3, is aimed at the rash of evictions of low-income tenants whose apartments are turned into condominiums. The way the state’s Ellis Act works, any landlord has the right to go out of business – that is, to stop renting housing units – and to evict all of his or her tenants. That leaves the building vacant and allows the landlord to sell it to people – generally better-off people – who want to buy their units as tenancies in common. In a lot of cases, the TIC owners then turn around and apply for permission to convert their apartments to condos.”

Once again, Daly is messing with a free market. Just when buyers might just see some inventory to choose from in our fair city, Daly is looking to fatten the pockets of those who own real estate by restricting people’s ability to do as they wish with their properties.

Finding a way to lessen evictions of elderly or disabled tenants is not a bad thing, it’s the manner in which he is trying to go about it. Especially with his attempt to force all condo conversions through the Planning Commission.

“Daly wants to require that condo conversions involving two, three, or four units (and that’s most TICs) go before the Planning Commission – and that the commission enforce a 24-year-old law that bars conversions that involved evicting a protected class of tenants. If the commission actually follows those rules, then Daly’s bill would have an immediate dampening effect on the most serious, and dangerous, Ellis Act TIC evictions.”

And meanwhile, those who thought they might just have been able to afford one of the lowest-priced TICs in San Francisco would be screwed. This attempt to ‘help’ would only temporarily slow the inventory while attorneys representing building owners squash this attempt just as they have squashed EVERYTHING Daly has done to screw with the housing market.

Doesn’t he get it yet? Unconstitutional legislation aimed at helping those who need it most is STILL unconstitutional.

And rather than looking for viable ways to build more housing to help his constituents, he just takes the easy route and throws wrenches into the system. These are only temporary band-aids for much larger problems. If he (and others in office) keeps avoiding the real problem, we’ll be in a worse situation next year and the year after that.

For those of you who live in two, three, or four unit TIC buildings, this could be disastrous for your ability to acheive condo conversion. Even if you bought a legitimately vacant building, if your conversion ends up in the Planning Commission, you can add at least a year to your process. If you’re lucky.

As always, you may want to add your voice to the discussion at the board’s meeting on January 3rd. Send your supervisor an email if you can’t make it and let them know how you feel about this one.

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Record home sales in California in 2005

From today’s San Francisco Business Times, “A record number of homes changed hands in 2005 – almost 2 percent more than the record number of homes sold in 2004, according to the California Association of Realtors.”

“The association reported Wednesday that 635,000 homes sold this year compared to last year’s record of 624,700. In 2006, sales are expected to drop by 2 percent – still a healthy number.”

“This was the fourth consecutive year for double-digit appreciation – though the pace slowed from the 18-to-21 percent annual gains experienced from 2002 to 2004 to 16 percent in 2005.”

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Bay Area wages highest in nation

From today’s Chronicle, “The Bay Area, heavy with technical and business management jobs, leads the nation in wages, with workers in the region earning 17 percent more than the national average, the U.S. Labor Department reported Wednesday.”

“In the latest study, which examined the relative pay of jobs in 78 metropolitan areas in July of 2004, the Bay Area set the pace in four of nine occupational classifications, including “management, business and financial” and “professional and related” categories, which together encompass most high-tech jobs.”

“The study did not specify actual wage levels. But in a separate November 2004 report, the bureau found that the mean annual salary of a worker in metropolitan San Francisco, including San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, was $52,100, compared with $37,440 nationally. The mean annual salaries in San Jose and Oakland metropolitan areas were $57,080 and $46,990 respectively.”

“”It’s not just the demand for hiring skilled people, you also have to look at the high cost of living here. You’ve got both in the Bay Area,” said Sharon Turner, Northern California district director for Robert Half International, a specialized staffing service. “It’s an expensive place to live.””

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City to plant 100 trees in SoMa

From today’s Examiner, “The South of Market neighborhood will get a little greener today and tomorrow, when The City plants nearly 100 new street trees in the area.”

“The majority of the trees will be planted on thoroughfares that act as major gateways into and out of The City — 10th, 11th and Fourth streets. Most of the trees will be evergreen magnolias, but the planting will also include deciduous Raywood ashes and London plane trees.”

“The planting, said Department of Public Works spokeswoman Christine Falvey, is part of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s goal of planting 5,000 trees by Arbor Day 2006. Since the mayor set that goal at this year’s Arbor Day celebration, on March 12, more than 2,000 trees have been planted. After the SoMa planting and the 330 trees that are currently being planted in street medians by DPW on Juniper Serra Boulevard and Portola Drive, the total will reach 2,845.”

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Median price of a home in California rises in November, up 16.2 percent from a year ago

From the California Association of Realtors, “The California housing market continues to experience year-over-year double-digit price appreciation, which is consistent with our expectation that the statewide median for 2005 will increase by 16 percent over last year,” said C.A.R. President Vince Malta.

“The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during November 2005 was $548,400, a 16.2 percent increase over the $471,980 median for November 2004, C.A.R. reported. The November 2005 median price increased 1.8 percent compared with October’s $538,770 median price.”

The number of homes sold also dropped 11.2% this November compared to last November.

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