Ouch, this one hurts.
If only this sign had Oracle Arena heading the other way…
Here it is:
The Biggest Problem With San Francisco’s Rent Crisis – The Suburbs, by Henry Grabar
This is in Slate, so it can’t be ignored, right? Read along with me, by the numbers.
1. “Crisis.” Well, our current sitch of high inflation of rents and property values is a crisis for some, but not for all. What if certain people, certain industries actually approve of this “crisis,” what then? Of course most renters in town pay slightly to substantially less than a market rate rent because most have the benefits of rent control. Is the author aware of this? We’ll see.
2. Photo. This one – I’ve seen it before. Since we’re toning down the words in Slate, let’s take the time to do the same to Slate’s illustrative photo illustrations. Here’s my stab at how things really looked in this part of Frisco, the ‘burbs of Frisco, if you will. Note the lack of nuclear yellow trees:
3. San Francisco “doesn’t deserve to be the poster child for inaction in the face of inequality?” Uh, why not? (One suspects author Hank has been talking with too many local urbanists.) Why doesn’t SF build more housing if it wants more housing? That’s what I’d ask myself before demanding other towns and counties to “do more.”
4. “The biggest problem with housing in San Francisco isn’t actually in San Francisco.” There’s your SlatePitch, there’s your everything-you-know-is-wrong. I’m not seeing any possibility of this article being useful at all. But let’s continue.
5. “‘The smaller communities, in my opinion, need to step up, and I don’t see that happening,’ San Francisco planning director John Rahaim says.” This sounds like a another pitch for regional government. I’ll agree – I too don’t see that happening. This is a big non-starter.
6. Prop 13. Yep. But are you going to get rid of Prop 13? IDTS. Hey, we’re halfway through.
8. “For municipalities, Rentschler said, the offer is simple: Build more housing, get more money.” So this is the point – a promised $1.5 billion per year for transit from the MTC? I’m not seeing this as a game-changer.
9. “Naturally, some conservatives see Plan Bay Area as part of the broader, Soviet-style plot to urbanize America.” Whoah! Uh, the people who are against all that this Slate bit endorses mostly voted for Obama – they’re mostly big “D” Democrats, right? (This could be confusing to Slate’s readers, non?)
10. “Agenda 21?” Man, poll Bay Areans about “Agenda 21″ and less than 5% would have any idea what it means, just saying.
11. “Writing in National Review, Kurtz warned AFFH would ‘urbanize suburbs and Manhattanize cities.’” Uh, Dude, didn’t you have the same person making the very same point two just grafs above? Get me Rewrite!
12. “But a modern-day building boom in the inner suburbs wouldn’t repeat those mistakes—it would correct them. This time, it would do a city like San Francisco good.” Huh, so that’s it, huh?
Well, I don’t see a modern-day building boom happening anytime soon in Frisco’s “inner suburbs,” so I guess that’s that. We’re talking Pie In The Sky here. JMO
And sorry, Newcomers. Everything’s stacked against you here in the 415.
Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who’s in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that’s good enough for me
As seen on Post, in the Western Addition:
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a beige one and a beige one
And a beige one and a beige one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
Well, here’s the question:
And here’s the answer: One Million Dollars
You know, for a really small one.
Oh, I have some notes:
1. The IS is a “recently-discovered” gem? Um, no.
2. And just saying, but not capitalizing the word “Realtor” is among the most serious crimes in the RE racket. Of course this article has been fixed already, but I’ll give it a try: realtor. [R]ealtor, realtor, realtor!
3. And when people talk about “good Realtors,” does that imply that there are bad realtors out there? Who are they? I want names.
4. And, speaking of good and bad, the odds of a kid of the Inner Sunset getting admitted to the “good” elementary school in the area, you know, assuming you put it down as your #1 choice in the public school “lottery,” are one in 500, like literally. Oh, so that’s why the word “school” wasn’t mentioned once in the entire ad / marketing effort / article?
5. And hey, is like right now a “good time to buy” residential real estate? Oh, it is? And actually it’s a “great time to buy?” OK then. (NB: All realtors always say “it’s a good time to buy” in the area where they sell. Always. I’ll just point out that, at least sometimes, this is 100% incorrect.)
6. And four photos but only one with fog? OK fine!
Is this bit here from CW Nevius at all persuasive to you? It’s not to me. And probably it’s not to most people.
And you know, there’s not a whole bunch of “tenant activists” in the bay area either. Yet CW seems to think the world is divided into two sections:
1. Right-thinking, right-side-of-the-aisle activist people such as himself; and
2. Tenant activists
But IRL, most people aren’t activists.
And the reason why it seems that CW Nevius works hand-in-hand with local pols who despise rent control is that CW Nevius actually is working hand-in-hand with local pols who despise rent control. Except CW doesn’t have to worry about losing future elections, so he’s free to speak out on behalf those pols who are terrified of being depicted as anti-rent control. So that’s your symbiotic relationship. I’m unaware of anybody else at the SF Chronicle who has this kind of relationship with local pols. I’m saying, from an outsider’s perspective, the writings of CW Nevius really stand out. He’s an outlier.
Leave us begin:
Through no fault of their own, the married couple has been displaced from their Mission District home by tenants who refuse to move unless they receive a payment of well over $100,000.
UH, NO THEY WEREN’T “DISPLACED.” WHAT HAPPENED WAS THEY MOVED OVERSEAS AND THEN RENTED OUT THEIR PART OF A TIC TO A COUPLE OF TENANTS IN A RENT-CONTROLLED CITY. THE OBVIOUS SOLUTION IS AN OMI PROCEEDING. SO, IN FACT, THEY CAN MOVE BACK “HOME.”
…an eviction would violate the terms of a TIC-to-condo conversion ordinance and they — and the other two co-owners of their building — would never be able to convert their tenancy-in-common unit to a condominium.
TICs AREN’T FOR EVERYBODY, RIGHT? LOTS OF THINGS CAN GO WRONG WITH A TIC, RIGHT?
“We may lose control of our home for the rest of our lives,” Rumpler said. “They must have been instructed that they are sitting on a gold mine. They’re dug in, and we’re stuck.”
AGAIN, YOU DO AN OMI OR YOU DON’T DO AN OMI – CALLING UP CW NEVIUS ISN’T GOING TO HELP WITH THIS SITUATION.
When the condo conversion ordinance was passed in June 2013, it seemed like relief for thousands of San Franciscans.
THOUSANDS OF WEALTHY SAN FRANCISCANS WHO WERE TAKING A CHANCE ON AN INHERENTLY RISKY TIC INVESTMENT, RIGHT?
They were buyers who purchased tenancy-in-common units and then spent years on a waiting list, hoping to be one of 200 chosen in the conversion lottery each year.
HOW IS THIS NOT LIKE ROULETTE?
“In this case the tenants were able to take advantage of the rules that were probably not designed to work this way,” Meirson said.
THIS IS RENT CONTROL IN ACTION. THE RULES WERE EXACTLY DESIGNED TO WORK THIS WAY. EXACTLY.
“It is a very real possibility that these tenants will remain with a lifetime lease and the owners may never be able to move back home. Is this what the law was meant to do?”
THIS IS RENT CONTROL IN ACTION. THE RULES WERE EXACTLY DESIGNED TO WORK THIS WAY. EXACTLY.
The irony, of course, is that if the roles were reversed and an older, married gay couple — one of whom has ALS — were being asked to leave a rental unit…
WHOA NELLIE! THE NEVIUSNESS OF THIS SENTENCE IS QUITE HIGH ALREADY, SO LET’S SLOW THINGS DOWN HERE. ALL RIGHT, IS IT REALLY A SMART IDEA TO “ASK” A TENANT TO LEAVE A RENT CONTROLLED UNIT? I SURE AS HECK DON’T THINK SO. THERE ARE POTENTIAL LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF DOING THAT, RIGHT? WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT WALNUT CREEK HERE, RIGHT? WE’RE TALKING SAN FRANCISCO, HOME OF SOME OF THE MOST EXTREME PRO-TENANT LAWS IN AMERICA, RIGHT? SO, IF YOU’RE NOT CUT OUT TO BE A SAN FRANCISCO LANDLORD, WHY WOULD YOU PICK THIS PLACE, OF ALL PLACES, TO BECOME A LANDLORD? AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T TAKE LANDLORD-TENANT ADVICE FROM CW NEVIUS, THE SAN FRANCISCO NEWCOMER STRAIGHT OUTTA THE 925.
…by a young, financially well-off couple in their 20s, there would be an uproar from tenant advocates.
WELL, NUMBER ONE, THERE WOULDN’T BE AN UPROAR. AND NUMBER TWO, WHERE DOES THE “OF COURSE” COME FROM, WHERE’S THE “IRONY?” THIS IS RENT CONTROL IN ACTION. IT SOUNDS LIKE CW NEVIUS DOESN’T LIKE SF RENT CONTROL.
Instead, this turns the whole scenario on its head.
I’M STRUGGLING TO UNDERSTAND HERE. IT WOULD BE NICE IF CW NEVIUS COULD FIND HIS WAY DOWN TO THE RENT BOARD TO SEE HOW THE RULES WORK IN HIS NEW-FOUND HOME. I DON’T THINK HE UNDERSTANDS.
The tenants, who declined to be interviewed, are in their early 20s and hardly impoverished. Rumpler says both of them work in the tech industry.
HERE’S A NEWS FLASH FOR CW NEVIUS: RENT CONTROL ISN’T MEANS-TESTED IN SF. IMPOVERISHMENT ISN’T A FACTOR. WHAT INDUSTRY THE TENANTS WORK IN IS NOT A FACTOR.
“My understanding is that they work in a high-income profession,” said Meirson. “They probably make more than the landlords in this case.”
OH “PROBABLY.” AND THEY PROBABLY HAVE LESS WEALTH TOO, RIGHT? I’M FAILING TO SEE HOW THIS ISN’T A RUN-OF THE-MILL RENT CONTROL SITUATION, SIMILAR TO OVER 100,000 OTHERS IN SF.
“We would be very happy to settle with them for a reasonable amount of money. We said, ‘We can give you $25,000 and they said, ‘Not even close.’”
ALL RIGHT, $25K. LET’S REMEMBER THIS FIGURE.
The quirky part of this story is that Rumpler and Scovern are victims of bad timing.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING IN REAL ESTATE, RIGHT? BUYING A TIC HOPING TO “WIN” A “LOTTERY” WHEN THE RULES ARE NOT AT ALL STABLE IS EXPOSING YOURSELF TO POLITICAL RISK, RIGHT?
When Scovern got a short-term job offer in Melbourne, Australia, in September 2012, Rumpler says they “pretty naively entered into the rental market.”
“NAIVELY?” DING DING DING DING DING DING! AND HEY, SPEAKING OF SCOVERN, GUESS WHO HAS AN INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING DEGREE? SO NEVIUS RELIES ON A SECOND-HAND SOURCE FOR THE OCCUPATIONS OF THE TENANTS, BUT IGNORES THE “TECHIE” LANDLORD IN THIS CASE. THAT’S SO
They used a rental agent to find tenants, with the idea that they’d be back in two years.
IN A RENT-CONTROLLED UNIT. SOUNDS LIKE A BAD IDEA.
Because they are less expensive than an outright condo purchase, they have been a gateway to ownership in a city where housing is incredibly expensive.
TICS HAVE A LOT OF BAD ASPECTS. IS OWNERSHIP SUCH A GOOD IDEA IN SF? IT WORKS OUT FOR MOST PEOPLE, BUT THERE ARE RISKS. ALTERNATIVES INCLUDE DALY CITY AND … WALNUT CREEK. SRSLY.
At this point the two sides are at stalemate.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS. IF THIS LL/TENANT COMBO IS AT STALEMATE, THEN SO ARE MOST LL/TENANT COMBOS IN SF. WHAT MAKES THIS UNIT SPECIAL?
Rumpler says the first suggestion by the tenants for a payout to move was based on the idea that they would have to pay an additional $1,500 a month for 10 years. That’s $18,000 a year for a total of $180,000. “It might as well have been a million,” Rumpler said. “We’re not paying the ransom.”
SO YOU’RE WILLING TO PAY $25K IN RANSOM BUT NOT $180K IN RANSOM BUT THE $25K ISN’T RANSOM? MMMM…
WHAT NEVIUS DOESN’T SHARE WITH HIS READERS IS THE DOLLAR AMOUNT SPENT FOR THE TIC AND THE VALUE OF IT NOW AND ALSO THE VALUE OF IT AFTER CONDO CONVERSION. THESE NUMBERS ARE PRETTY KNOWABLE BUT THEY MIGHT TURN OFF SOME OF THE READERS THAT NEVIUS IS TRYING, FOR SOME REASON, TO PERSUADE.
AND YOU KNOW, SOME PEOPLE BOUGHT REAL ESTATE IN 2006, AND, “THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN,” ENDED UP UNDERWATER. WHERE’S THEIR NEVIUS COLUMN?
IF I WERE THE NEVIUS, I WOULD HAVE GIVEN UP ON THIS STORY.
SOME FISH YOU SHOULD JUST THROW BACK.
And of course, get the Mercedes first, the better to enjoy your free parking space a stone’s throw from City Hall, you know, when you get the chance to move in.
Thusly, as seen on McAllister, pulling into the PJs near Gough.
Did I mention that this is a gated community? Yes, it is. One supposes residents are given gate-opening Genie-style remotes to put inside their Mercedeses.
Sometimes you look and half the cars parked inside the gates are Mercedeses, Lexuseses or BMW’s.
Oh Lord, won’t You buy me a Mercedes Benz?