Archive for June, 2010

It’s Politics as Usual at City Hall

San Francisco has a lottery system that selects 200 units annually for conversion into condominiums. With 1,799 units having lost the lottery this year and a multimillion-dollar deficit to close, Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed legislation that would allow these units to bypass the lottery system by paying a $20,000 fee per unit. The cost would’ve been reduced depending on the number of years one had participated in the lottery.

But, the proposal was slammed by Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Supervisor John Avalos, who said it threatens San Francisco’s rental stock and encourages evictions. The condo conversion is “a program to disincentivize the turning over of rental property,” Avalos said.

So with the city in a desperate situation and San Francisco with one of the lowest Home-Ownership rates in the state the call is we’ll lose precious rental stock.  Um … Ok!

Good News Regarding TIC Lottery Bypass [SFHomeBlog]

Supervisors Kill Condo Proposal [SF Examiner]

Quick Facts San Francisco [US Census Bureau]


Stern Grove Summertime Free Concert Series Kicks Off!

Poster for the 2010 festival

Stern Grove’s 73rd season of free Sunday concerts kicked off today!

If you’ve never been to the concerts at Stern Grove, you are missing out.  All summer see great music and events free of charge at Sigmund Stern Grove, 19th Avenue & Sloat. This year, as always the festival features a diverse line-up.

* June 20, 2010
/ Sarazino
* June 27, 2010
HAPA / Academy of Hawaiian Arts
* July 4, 2010
* July 11, 2010
* July 18, 2010
* July 25, 2010
JOVANOTTI / Bomba Estéreo
* August 1, 2010
RICKIE LEE JONES / Meklit Hadero
* August 8, 2010
* August 15, 2010
* August 22, 2010

While the show starts at 2 pm, you need to be early, as when the concert meadow is filled you will be  sent to the West Meadow which is nearby but with visibility of the stage.

There is a bike valet for those who ride to the Grove.

There’s also some wonderful picnic benches, which you can reserve 6 seats at through a lottery system. They are close to the stage and a real treat to experience.

Need more information? There’s a handy guide to the Grove experience! Just remember both your sunscreen and your layers, as the weather can be highly changeable at the Grove!


Go Green with City financing!

First, I was thinking yes, let’s install solar panels with the new Green Finance program from the city… but no, I found out, I’ve got to do some other work first.

The new program allows you to pull a loan (currently at 7% interest rate) from the city and have the principle, interest and fees that is repayable as a line item on your property tax bill.  The duration of the loan period depends on the life expectancy of the improvements (up to 20 years). The line item remains on the property tax bill as a lien on the property even when sold, so you don’t have to worry about paying it off if you need to sell.  It is simply passed on to the new owner on their property tax bill, as they will also reap the benefits of the improvements.

How does it work?  Rich Chen, the coordinator for the SF Environment program explained it to a small group at the recent Neighborhood Empowerment Network Summit :

Set up an energy audit.

Or, there’s an option if you don’t want to do the energy audit – just include the “Basic Energy Efficiency Package” as one of the projects included in your improvements.  The package will include attic insulation, duct repair and sealing, hot water system insulation, combustion appliance safety testing and water conservation measures.

Choose which projects make the most sense for your property and get a bid for each project from an approved contractor.

You can finance new insulating windows as well as a new heater and ducts, solar installations plus other projects.

Naturally there is paperwork involved, and you’ll need to be organized to make this program work for you.  The application form is on line as is the project list form and the checklist.   There is a $300 application fee as well as requirements for the property.  The city will need to verify that there is equity in the property prior to granting the loan.  You will need to notify your lender if you carry a loan on the property.

Then, when you have approval, you have 180 days to complete your project and request funding.   The job data form looks like you may ask for some help from your contractors for some of those answers!  There’s even a checklist for closing.

Naturally, you’ll have to provide the documentation and signed consent form for the special property tax levy and filing of the special tax lien on the property as well.  The lien is placed on your property for the exact amount necessary to repay the cost of the project.  You’ll be issued a check or can have the funds wired to your account. At this point, you’ll pay your contractors.

You will be making semi annual payments on this lien when you pay your property taxes every year until the lien is paid off.

One of my question is whether this would trigger a reassessment or increase to property taxes, and answer was no.  I even called the 1-800-803-6930 number to double check and the answer is no, that Renewable projects and energy efficiency upgrades are not included for reassessment.

The city website also includes a link to a variety of other programs such as SF Solar Map, Go Solar California, Go Solar SF and more!

So I can’t go direct to solar without reducing my energy usage 20% via the program as well, but I think it will be worth it! Overall, this is a great opportunity to finance some home improvements to enjoy now and add value to your property in a time of very limited financing options.


Take over the streets in the Mission this Summer, but let’s have a Community Market in the Mission too!

Yes!  The second annual Sunday Streets is coming to the Mission this weekend, June 20th! (and returning to the Mission on July 11th!)  It should be a blast with parts of Valencia, 24th and Harrison Street closed to cars.  There will be loads of events going on from  pet programs, live music, Slumdog Millionaire Skate Dance, rides on a bicycle built for 7 and so much more! Go out and have a blast!

Image from the postcard for the Mission Community Market Fundraiser

But if you if you live in the Mission, or spend a lot of time there, perhaps you’d like to help support the opening of a community Market?  Well, come out for a fundraising event on Saturday June 19th from 11 am – 3 pm on 22nd Street near Mission Street: buy raffle tickets, hear music,  watch a puppet show by Sirron Norris’ students and more!  Every dollar spent at Cafe Revolution, Escape from New York Pizza, and Lolo will help start the proposed Mission Community Market. Why come out and support this you ask?  Well, the goal is to open a Thursday evening open air market on Bartlett Street between 22nd  and 21st Streets that would feature healthy and homemade foods, be a platform for emerging businesses, and hopefully, a  space for community programs.  Proposed programs would be hosted by existing, community-based organizations throughout the Mission. It may include dance classes, youth art projects or a “play street” where kids can feel safe to play games in the street.

How can we make this a reality?  We all need to support the Mission Community Market, whether you can come to the fundraiser, donate on line, or spread the word and don’t forget to like the Market on Facebook.  I know I’d love to head down on a Thursday evening this summer for fun and great food in a outdoor space, how about you?


Good News Regarding TIC Lottery Bypass…

It’s been about a year and a half that I first starting hearing about momentum building to allow TIC units to pay to bypass the rather byzantine condo lottery system.  I thought it was exciting news, but unlikely to gain traction in our city.  Still, many TIC owners I spoke with were very positive about the possibility.  Now that the city is in financial distress and looking for new income streams, the idea is back and included in the proposed city budget!

Plan C has the details and included the information in their email action alert yesterday:

The details of the proposal are as follows: TICs must have participated in the 2010 condo conversion lottery in order to be eligible for the condo bypass. The fee for the bypass starts at $20,000 per unit for those who first participated in the lottery in 2010, and declines by 20% for each previous year of unsuccessful lottery participation. So, if 2010 was the first year your TIC participated in the lottery, your fee will be $20,000 per unit in the building. If 2010 was your second year, your fee will be $16,000 per unit. If 2010 was your third year of participation your fee with be $12,000 per unit. If 2010 was your fourth year $8,000/unit, and if it was your fifth year and beyond, $4,000/unit. Note: If your TIC only qualified to participate in the last 25 units which were drawn from Pool B of the 2010 lottery (because of eviction history), you are not eligible for the one-time bypass.

Plan C has been active in promoting this issue and has worked to create a solution that helps tenants as well.

The proposal will bring significant revenue (likely in excess of $8M) to the city during this time of budget crisis – money that will provide funding to affordable and supportive housing programs that might otherwise be cut. At the same time the legislation will bring much needed ownership and mortgage relief to middle income San Franciscans that owner occupy their TICs. This is sensible legislation that helps everyone — it addresses the needs of TIC owners AND provides funding to low-income residents with special housing needs. Tenants are also protected — to be eligible to participate in the lottery, the TIC building must not have been subject to recent Ellis Act evictions, must not have evicted any protected tenants and must not have more than one no fault eviction.

So, what to do to help this proposal be included in the final budget?  Well, I’m going to second the call to action that Plan C proposes:

How you can help?

Email the Mayor and Key Supervisors
The Mayor and the Supervisors need to hear from us — contact them today by clicking on the Contact City Hall link to the right — let them know that you support the one-time condo bypass. Tell them that the program would help thousands of first-time homeowners, would hurt no one, and that it would help solve the City’s budget mess. And then tell them that you support overall reform of the completely broken condo conversion process! If you have the time and desire to call them, do that too. You can use this website to do it.

Attend the budget hearing on June 21
The condo bypass will be considered at the budget hearing at City Hall on June 21. The hearing starts at 10AM, and the Condo Bypass is Item Number 4. We don’t expect the Board to get to Item 4 until at least noon. Please come and speak in public comment – tell the supervisors that you support the condo bypass! We know that the opponents of this program will be out in force – so it is critical to have supporters there as well. If you are able to attend the hearing, let us know by email at – we may be able to give you better information as to exactly when to show up as it gets closer to June 21.

What else can you do?  Join Plan C,  at least sign up for their email updates, talk to other interested owners and get people to email and call our representatives.  This is a real opportunity to try and get this done!  For all you owners with group loans, wouldn’t you love to be able to have your own loan as rates are so low currently?  It’s time to embrace this and allow more owners to condo convert!