Archive for January, 2009

Pay to By-Pass Condo Lottery?

I was thrilled to read a proposal today of what could be the most exciting news for TIC owners here in San Francisco….

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

Waiting to go condo is San Francisco’s version of waiting for Godot.

Building owners can spend years vying for one of 200 condo-conversion slots awarded annually via a lottery. But this year San Francisco is considering letting people skip the line, offering a one-time chance to the hundreds of folks on the lottery list to go condo now – for an extra fee. The goal is to generate more revenue for the cash-strapped city and to create building-industry jobs, because condo conversions generally require some construction work to bring buildings up to code.

“We’re investigating many revenue options to help solve the city’s budget deficit; condo conversion is one of them,” e-mailed Joe Arellano, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom.

A proposal to expedite condo conversion would require approval by either the supervisors or the voters – no easy task in a city where housing issues are famously contentious. Tenant advocates say the practice hurts renters who get evicted when buildings convert to tenancies in common, the step before going condo. Previous proposals for increased condo conversions have failed miserably.

Supporters say the sour economy could change the dynamics this time around.

“What’s different this year is that the city is in such a financial hole, this is a way to help,” said Mike Sullivan, board chair of Plan C San Francisco, a moderate civic organization that supports the idea. “If all the city did was grandfather in the 1,500 people waiting behind the lottery, just doing that would help the city’s budget.”

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, the proposal’s instigator, said the extra fees would directly benefit affordable and supportive housing, as a way to remediate the plan’s impact on the rental housing market. [More…]

So maybe the downturn in the economy could benefit those waiting to win the lottery?

A total of 2,030 individual units are entered into this year’s lottery, which takes place Friday. Also on that day, Plan C is organizing a demonstration at City Hall to protest the lengthy wait for condo conversion. [More…]

Yes, it’s exciting for those TIC owners, but you can expect there will be a fight against this happening as is evident further in the article.

Ted Gullicksen, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, said the proposal ultimately would hurt renters.

“We need to preserve our rental housing,” he said. “The easier we make it for tenancies in common to become condominiums, the more TICs will be created. The larger issue is that people are creating TICs to get around the condo conversion law” that provides more tenant protections.

Miguel Wooding, executive director of the Eviction Defense Collaborative, agreed.

“The condo conversion law has been around for a long time and has been an important protection for preserving rent-controlled housing stock,” he said. A one-time mega conversion “sets up expectations of the possibility of increasing TIC conversions in the future. You have an increased motivation to increase evictions (to create TICs) if you have that possibility.”

So all you Tic owners, it’s time to join Plan C (you can even join for free) and start marking your voice heard on this issue. I used to hear that the back log on the lottery system was 12 to 15 years, but lately I hear that it’s estimated at between 15 to 20 years. This could be a real opportunity!