Editor’s note: This column is one of a biweekly series of conversations with District 9 Supervisor David Campos addressing issues and events in the Mission. If you have questions for Campos, send an email to email@example.com.
Mission Local: Condo conversion has come up again recently, as legislation has been proposed to help people convert their tenancies-in-common to condos in order to have full ownership over their unit. But tenants’ rights advocates fear that speculation and unbridled conversions would threaten rent control in San Francisco. What are the problems here that need to be fixed?
David Campos: The condo conversion process has been in place for quite some time. And there have been since that time limitations on the number of units that can be converted into condos [in the city], and the proposal that has been put forward would allow for folks to bypass the lottery and pay the city so that they can basically convert the unit. That is something that has been tried in the past and there are very strong opinions, but the proposal by supervisors Farrell and Wiener would allow for more than 200 condo conversions … each year.
ML: How was the original proposal harmful to tenants in the first place?
DC: The reason there was a cap put in place many years ago was the fear that you’re going to have a lot of rental units and apartments that are going to be turned into tenancies-in-common if there’s an unlimited amount that are allowed for conversion. That limitation [of 200 conversions to condominiums per year] was put in place to protect the rental stock in the city.
ML: Does it look like the Board of Supervisors will come to a consensus on protecting tenants from speculation while also helping TIC tenants who want to convert?
DC: I think that what you see right now is an effort on the part of the Board of Supervisors and the community to find a middle ground. The proposal [that] has been presented by Supervisor Chiu would basically allow for the one-time conversion, but would also impose a 10-year moratorium [on condo conversions], which would be appropriate.
ML: So do you support a moratorium on converting TICs to condos?
DC: I think that the proposal as amended that has been introduced strikes the right balance. It addresses some of the concerns that have been raised by TIC owners. It allows for conversions beyond what the lottery allows, but it also tries to protect the availability of rental units by placing a 10-year moratorium. On the whole, that’s a good compromise.
ML: Would this affect all tenants, or just those in tenancy-in-common rental situations?
DC: Just TICs. The original Wiener-Farrell proposal would allow 2,000 units to be converted without going to the lottery by people just paying a fee. What we believe is that if you allow [that], there will be a massive increase in the number of eviction of long-time renters, which will lead to a loss of rent-controlled housing in the city. It would basically lead to rampant speculation.
And so the alternative that has been presented would still allow some existing owners of TICs to convert, but it would have a moratorium for a decade to prevent the kind of speculation that could come out of the proposal. So it allows for some relief to TIC owners, but it also protects renters, who, without those controls, could end up being evicted and losing their units. And we know that right now, a big issue in the city, particularly in the city, is the high increase in rent.
ML: Do you and Supervisor Wiener agree on whether or not a restaurant moratorium would be a good move for Valencia Street?
DC: We have agreed that whatever comes out is going to be something that we both can live with. Generally speaking, I have been more open to considering a moratorium, but I also share the concerns with [it]. I think that the reason why you haven’t seen any movement is because we haven’t really seen the kind of groundswell from the community in terms of doing something like this.
ML: What are the next steps for this proposal?
DC: The proposal came out of committee and will go to the Board of Supervisors for the next board meeting for a vote.
ML: We haven’t heard much [recently] about restaurant moratoriums on Valencia Street and also 24th Street. What is the status of these ideas, and could they be a good way to preserve the Mission neighborhood?
DC: The initial interest in having the restaurant moratorium on Valencia has subsided. The people who at first were asking for it are no longer pushing for it. We had a community meeting a few weeks back to talk about whether a moratorium or some other action was necessary on 24th Street. I am open to a lot of different options. Before we go down the route of a moratorium, we’re going to need to think about the unintended consequences of that. The impression I got from the community meeting was, I don’t know that there is consensus around this yet.
ML: Would you call the issue that the moratorium would address [that of new restaurants replacing existing businesses and residents] an urgent issue?
DC: I think that it’s an important issue in that it’s a concern that people have right now. Whether it’s a solution and something that needs to be addressed immediately, I think remains to be seen. It may be more of a long-term issue, and something we need to figure out.
ML: Tickets to Pop-Up Magazine, a live arts event that started as an intimate gathering at Brava Theater and has now moved to Davies Symphony Hall, sold out on Wednesday in about five minutes. People in San Francisco seem to really love engaging in hype around certain things, no matter how long the line. What would you stand in line for in San Francisco, that’s just too good to pass up?
DC: I haven’t been to a concert in a while. But certainly, I would be willing to do that. I think a lot of these revolve around food, [such as] when you get a burrito somewhere. I certainly have been to places like El Farolito where you have to stand in line for a while before you can get your order in. But it’s worth it.