A Report From the Earthquake Retrofit Fair

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Tomoko and I went to the city-sponsored “Earthquake Retrofit Fair 2014.” There were hundreds of puffs of grey hair grazing around. There were candies, logo-emblazoned sunscreen and suppliers of all sorts.

For those on our side of the show booths there was a different vibe. The prevailing body language seemed to be saying, “There’s lots to eat but somehow I’m not hungry. Bessie, something is gonna happen and it’s not going to be good”.

The seismic retrofit work will not change your property tax. A mandatory administrative bill that triggers a good tax boost would have made things much more lively.

I stopped by the San Francisco City Rent Board booth. There was a beleaguered woman handing out calculators and pens and answering questions, of which there were many. She was a good soldier.

“Well if the tenants are displaced during the retrofit you must provide them with $250 per day per diem and if they need to vacate for a long period they must be given $5,000 per person relocation payment.

“… and if they won’t leave?” asked one questioner.

“If the eviction is valid you will need to get an attorney to begin proceedings after which the Sheriff will do the eviction,” she replied.

“Sheriff, attorneys, and court all takes time and a lot of money,” a questioner commented.

Noting the rhetorical nature of the comment the smart but besieged Rent Board Lady didn’t respond.

Tomoko asked, “Once they have been evicted and have been given $5,000 where will they go?”

A guy inserted, “I know you are aware that there is a shortage of apartment space right now.”

“Perhaps they could couch surf for a while,” the woman said. Who ever said being a city employee was easy? This brave woman sure earned her keep yesterday.

8 Comments

  1. John

    $250 per day? Are you sure? I don’t think so.

    • George Lipp

      The woman at the desk told us $250/day per diem. There is the possibility I didn’t hear her correctly. You might want to check your sources John. Seemed kind of hefty at the time but I didn’t seek clearification.

      • John

        George, I’m fairly certain that there is no $250 a day per diem obligation for general cases where a tenant has to move out for building work. There is the 5K location allowance, however.

        It’s possible that a special case was carved out just for the seismic retrofit work. But one problem then would be that LL’s will try and do the work with the tenants in situ even though that’s not a very healthy idea.

        $250 a day seems punitive when many tenants will simply couch-surf and not necessarily spend much at all.

        One final thing. The tenants not moving is unlikely to happen because the resultant eviction would mean they would lose their home for good. So I suspect that landlords will not have to worry about that much.

  2. George Lipp Post author

    You know, I am going to call them tomorrow. I asked my wife and she heard the same $250/day amount too. The rent board woman was besieged with questions from ridiculous to sublime. Perhaps she misspoke. What interests me now is that the eager crowd, like my wife and me, didn’t question the amount. I’ll post what I find tomorrow.

  3. Well I found out the actual dislocation numbers are -$275/day per tenant household plus the actual cost of household goods movement in and out during the dislocation. This compensation is for dislocations 20 days or less. The allowance is apparently mandated by California State Law 1947.9 Here is a link to the rent board citation. http://www.sfrb.org/index.aspx?page=1374.

    • John

      OK, thanks, George. I wasn’t aware of that – apparently it is a new law introduced last year.

      I suspect that many landlords will not be interested in paying that, so it will probably lead to tenants remaining in buildings while seriously disruptive and potentially unhealthful work is being done.

      • backtotheburbs

        You are saying that landlords are not interested in obeying the law. So what do you expect from everyone else?

        • John

          No, I’m saying that if a LL is planning some work and it is borderline whether to tell the tenants to move out or not, they will probably have them stay, because the cost of them moving out is punitive to the landlord.

          I am not clear how that helps tenants.

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