Sup. Farrell Attempts to Block Tenant-Backed OMI Measure

For Immediate Release: June 12, 2017


Housing advocates, tenants, supervisors prepare for a showdown after Supervisor tries to fast-track Apartment Association-backed proposal


When: Monday, June 12, 2017
Where: Front steps of SF City Hall – Polk Street side
Who:     Supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin; tenants, housing advocates, grassroots organizers, eviction defense lawyers
Why:     Sups. Peskin and Kim propose legislation that would tighten loopholes and abuse of Owner Move-in and Relative Move-in laws, while Supervisor Farrell refuses to let it be heard in committee.
When     Noon-1PM  Steps of City Hall
2PM – Land Use Committee hearing, #250


SAN FRANCISCO— In a surprise move, Supervisor Mark Farrell, chair of the Land Use Committee, is delaying consideration of Supervisors Aaron Peskin & Jane Kim’s proposed Eviction Protection legislation and is instead fast-tracking his own weaker ordinance supported by the Apartment Association and opposed by every authentic tenant rights organization in the city. Tenant organizations will be denouncing this move at a press conference on Monday in front of SF City Hall.

Owner Move-In Evictions Explained 
Under San Francisco law, landlords can legally evict tenants if they wish to move in themselves. However, as reported by NBC Bay Area, and corroborated by tenants rights organizations, a significant percentage of these evictions are fraudulent: the owner never moves, in and instead uses these evictions as means to remove the unit from rent control status.

Tenant advocates report that landlord speculators are using loopholes in the law to skirt around eviction protections to strong-arm tenants out of rent-controlled properties and bring in tenants willing to pay double, triple and even four times the original rent.

The six-month investigation by Bay Area NBC found that in the past 10 years, not a single landlord has been prosecuted for a fraudulent owner move-in eviction.

A new map by the SF Anti-Eviction Project bears out numbers that show the surge of OMIs and RMIs.

“Numerous serial evictors are using OMIs as one of several tactics in their portfolios. We have found there are many cases in which these have transpired illegally but have not faced real enforcement,” says Erin McElroy, co-founder of the the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project — a series of data that maps evictions in SF and Oakland.

McElroy adds, “As Rent Board data shows, OMIs have been on the upswing since 2013. And numbers don’t lie —, 2015 and 2016 have seen more OMIs than any other years over the last decade. The Excelsior, Mission and Sunset districts have been most impacted recently, (zip codes 94110, 94122, and 94112) but as the map shows, these evictions have taken place all over the city.

Additionally, according to the Housing Balance report, District 8 has seen the largest number of rental housing units lost to OMI evictions overall in the last ten years.

Meanwhile at a April 28th hearing by Supervisor Kim, city departments including the Rent Board, the City Attorney’s office and the District Attorney’s office agreed they do virtually no investigation or enforcement of these fraudulent OMIs.

Dueling Legislation Introduced
Supervisor Farrell proposed legislation that was billed as targeting OMI fraud but is seen as ineffective.

Meanwhile, Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim sponsored legislation that was carefully crafted to close loopholes in the law based on recommendations and research with the Tenants Union, the Rent Board, eviction defense lawyers, affirmative case lawyers, the and Anti-Displacement Coalition member organizations.

Unlike the Farrell proposal, the Peskin proposal would :

●    Allow tenants and the Rent Board to better track OMI evictions
●    Allow tenants to keep their right to move back in at a controlled rent should the landlord move out, or change their plans.
●    Provide for penalties and stronger enforcement if the landlord fails to reside in the unit for 36 continuous months or overcharges rent.

Showdown at City Hall
The authors of the Tenant-backed legislation requested to hear the bill at the Land Use committee on June 12. However, Farrell, who is the head of the committee, failed to calendar the tenant proposal, and instead, scheduled his own legislation to be voted on at the Full board the next day, June 13.

“We were initially hopeful when Supervisor Farrell decided to champion this issue, and tried to work with him,” says Deepa Varma, executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union. “But this dialogue didn’t happen. He did not even calendar the legislation that advocates helped to develop.It makes us wonder if he is more concerned with politics than stopping evictions” adds Varma.

In a letter to the Mayor and Supervisors, tenant advocates state: “While (Farrell’s) looks good on paper, it fails to include any of our recommendations in the language we need to make them effective.“

“We are hopeful that the Peskin/Kim legislation will move forward, that supervisors won’t be fooled into supporting a weaker proposal than we need,” states Cynthia Fong, Richmond District Community Organizer/Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. “None of the provisions the advocates suggested cause a burden for those landlords — who legitimately intend to move into a unit, but they will make it much more difficult for those landlords who wish to evade the law.”  She added, “Any legislation that does not include these recommendations will not stop these evictions, as well-intentioned as it may be.”