Group Seeks Condo Lottery Bypass,
Raise Funds for Affordable Housing

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on February 02, 2012 with No Comments

Members of a home-ownership group, Plan C, held a rally on the steps of City Hall yesterday to announce its proposal to allow for a one-time bypass of the city's condo-conversion lottery in exchange for a fee earmarked for affordable housing. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

February 2, 2012

Members of a home-ownership group held a press conference on the steps of San Francisco City Hall yesterday to announce its support for reform legislation it is sponsoring that aims to allow a one-time, fee-based, bypass of the city’s condo lottery.

The group, Plan C, estimates as much as $25 million could be raised for the construction of affordable housing.

“We’ve been fighting for this for ten years and have gotten nowhere,” said Plan C co-chair Mike Sullivan. “What’s different this year is that we’re not just asking for more condo conversions, we’re suggesting that condo-converters pay a fee that would go to affordable housing and we think it could raise up to $25 million for affordable housing in this city.”

Though the group has yet to iron out a fee-based structure based on lottery seniority, the fees could be as low as $10 thousand and as high as $25 thousand per conversion, Sullivan said.

Plan C co-chair Mike Sullivan (center) with Supervisor Scott Wiener (left) and Mark Farrell (right).

The City instituted a curb on condo conversions in response to increases in “no fault” tenant evictions, limiting conversions via a lottery to 200 per year. Currently there are 2,391 homeowners waiting in line for their chance to convert their tenancy-in-common mortgages into less costly and restrictive joint tenancy instruments.

Though Plan C says only existing TIC homeowners in the condo lottery would be eligible for the one-time bypass conversion, opponents argue the proposal would ultimately lead to more tenant evictions.

“Letting these TICs automatically become condos will lead to more conversions and evictions,” said Tenants Union Director Ted Gullickson. “These TICs were created to get around the city’s condo conversion law which protects tenants and they should not be allowed to get the high value of a condo now, after they chose to exploit loopholes to avoid condo conversion limits on evictions.”

District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell and District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener were in attendance at the press conference and are expected to sponsor Plan C’s proposal through the legislative process. Wiener, whose District has the highest number of TICs in the City, said the proposed condo bypass would not impact existing rental stock or lead to more evictions.

“These are owner-occupied units so they are no longer rentals,” Wiener told FCJ. “We’re only talking about existing stock. We’re talking about a one-time bypass for existing owner-occupied units that are eligible for the lottery, meaning there’s been no Ellis Act evictions.”

Farrell, himself a two-time former TIC owner and a former Plan C board member, said, “Home ownership should not be a four-letter word in this city and I do believe we can have home ownership rights – and protect those rights – and also tenants rights here in San Francisco.”

“We have evictions at an all-time low,” Farrell added. “We have a huge need for affordable housing here in San Francisco and this condo bypass lottery is our one opportunity to create millions of dollars for affordable housing.”

Six votes are needed to pass legislation on the eleven-member Board of Supervisors. If the proposed legislation fails at the Board, Plan C will look to the 2013 ballot for approval, Sullivan said.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Raise Funds for Affordable Housing
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