COMPROMISE CONDO CONVERSION
Improves lottery luck for those waiting longest
By Pat Murphy
November 30, 2005
Odds for winning San Francisco's condominium conversion lottery
may soon improve for 100 of the 1512 property owners who have
applied, through unanimous recommendation yesterday by the city's
Land Use Committee.
The legislation sponsored by Supervisor Bevan Dufty would guarantee
approval to those applicants who have waited the longest number
of years without winning, if their total number is 100 or less.
Under legislation in place since former Mayor Dianne Feinstein's
administration, only 200 condominium conversions are granted annually.
It was enacted to slow the loss of rental stock. At that time,
the number of conversion requests was roughly equal to the 200
Over the years, applicant numbers grew to frustrating result
that many applicants who waited years without winning were seeing
first time applicants win by luck of the draw.
If the Dufty ordinance is approved by the full Board of Supervisors,
it will be the second attempt in lottery history to redress indifference
of blind luck.
The first effort was in 1994, sponsored by then Supervisor Carole
This current law breaks the drawing into two groups of 100 each
- with the first 100 winners drawn from a pool of applicants who
lost three previous years. If those senior applicants are more
than 100, those not chosen for inclusion become the first included
in a final drawing for the remaining 100 openings. Newer applicants
fill out remainder, if any, of the second 100 slots.
Additionally, the current Migden law attempted to balance fairness
by giving each loser one ticket for each lottery they lost up
to a total of five tickets.
In 1994, Migden explained rationale for boosting luck of senior
"This legislation is designed to assist owner-occupants
who have repeatedly been unsuccessful in the condo conversion
lottery," said Migden.
"It will provide for splitting the current lottery into
two groups - those who have tried before and those who have not
- and will give participants one ticket for every year (up to
five) in which they have tried but been unsuccessfully in the
However, that legislation did not lift the 200 cap on annual
conversions, despite applications having soared.
"The proposed legislation will not change the amount of
condominium conversion units allowed annually or ease the rules
for condominium conversions," Migden noted.
By contrast, the Dufty proposal still requires participants in
the first drawing to have lost for three years -- but breaks that
group into additional classes based on total number of losing
And it denies lottery participation to owners who issued certain
evictions to elderly, disabled, or catastrophically ill tenants
since July 1, 2000. Dufty legislation does not lift the 200 cap.
Tenants rights advocates, led by Tenants Union director Ted Gullicksen,
first opposed the measure until an amendment by Supervisor Jake
McGoldrick protecting vulnerable tenants was adopted.
Another successful McGoldrick amendment moved effective date
back to one month before elderly tenant Lola McKay was evicted
under the California Ellis Act in February 1999.
McKay, evicted in her mid-80s and now deceased, became a cause
celebre for opponents to the Ellis Act which permits evictions
for owner move-in.
Committee members were pleased by the successful compromise.
"I'm pleased to support these amendments," stated McGoldrick,
who noted he may develop a further amendment including families
with school age children as a protected class.
"We are stewards of the earth
we've got a lot of work
to do in the next year," McGoldrick explained.
Dufty thanked tenant advocates for developing renter protections.
"I support the amendment, and I appreciate the tenant advocates
bringing forward the significant date of January 1, 1999,"
"There is a way to find balance in this small geographically
and I am grateful that Supervisor McGoldrick
has given us the vehicle
for fairness of the lottery."
Maxwell lauded cooperation in shaping new legislation.
"I want to thank all of you who have been here, and have
been really, really committed to the issue - but you've done it
in a very fair, and I want to say in a great, way," Maxwell
"I remember a time when we had a lot of hostility, and that
certainly has not shown itself today.
Tickets for the 2006 lottery went on sale for $150 per building
on November 28, with sales terminating at 4:45 p.m. January 26,
New ticket purchasers for the 2006 lottery will add to the 1512
applicants now waiting.