Supes propose shortcut to S.F. condo conversion
Rachel Gordon
Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A proposal to create a one-time bypass of San Francisco’s strict condominium conversion lottery could pump as much as $25 million into the city’s affordable housing fund and help more than 1,000 tenancy-in-common owners escape the financial shackles that now constrain them, proponents assert.

Supervisors Mark Farrell and Scott Wiener plan to introduce legislation Tuesday that will allow eligible TIC owners to skip the city-run condo-conversion lottery if they pay a $20,000 fee for the privilege. The money would be used to help fund the city’s affordable-housing programs.

This year 2,392 units were in the condo conversion lottery for just 200 coveted slots, and the wait to eventually win can run a decade or more. Under TICs, the ownership of a multiunit building is shared, and the individual units cannot be financed with a traditional residential loan. That has made it difficult for TIC owners to refinance and take advantage of the near record-low interest rates.

“This is creating an opportunity to assist TIC owners who are in dire financial straits, to help them keep their homes, and to help create more affordable housing,” Farrell said.

Similar attempts have been tried before, but were beat back by tenant advocates who say that such a program would open a floodgate to condominium conversions and should be defeated.

“It will lead to more evictions and the loss of rental units,” said Ted Gullicksen, who represents the San Francisco Tenants Union.

Farrell and Wiener said they have addressed that concern by offering protections for all tenants who live in the TIC buildings by guaranteeing them lifetime leases if their buildings are converted. Currently, those protections apply only to senior and disabled tenants. But critics say that once those units are vacated, the rentals can be lost forever.

– Rachel Gordon

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