Emotions ran high at City Hall today as protesters gathered under the bright sun and then visited city officials to address San Francisco’s debilitating housing crisis and call on city leaders to take action by passing proposed legislation.
The crowd of about 150 housing leaders, union members, homeless rights activists and residents voiced their frustrations with the city’s failure to stem rampant evictions, displacements of longtime residents and the gentrification of entire neighborhoods.
“We want no more luxury condos, we want affordable housing for everyone…it’s what we’ve been saying for years now,” said Tommy Avicolli Mecca, Counseling Director of San Francisco’s Housing Rights Committee. “We want these people who are supposed to be our elected officials to address the housing crisis, in a way that is going to be effective — because people are fed up.”
Carrying signs and banners that read “Affordable Housing, Not Luxury Condos” and “Stop Economic Cleansing,” activists visited the offices of the city’s 11 district supervisors and the chambers of the Planning Commission to rally support for Propositions I and F, as well as a proposal that will come before the Land Use Committee on Monday called Tenant Protection 2.0.
Tenant Protection 2.0, proposed by Supervisor Jane Kim earlier this year, would address four ‘loopholes’ activists said are often exploited by landlords in San Francisco. It would protect tenants from being evicted for minor claims and provide them with additional notice, give additional protections to tenants who request to add roommates to their units, place restrictions on landlords planning to raise rents after implementing no-fault evictions, and require landlords to provide multilingual information about where their tenants can seek help in the case of an eviction.
“This legislation would stop thousands of evictions,” said Maria Zamudio, a housing rights organizer at Causa Justa::Just Cause. “We need to stop evictions now — and we need the support of our supervisors.”
Proposition I, the Mission Moratorium, would stop the construction of market rate housing anywhere in the mission for a year and a half. Proposition F places tighter restrictions on short term rentals in an effort to reduce the impact that they have on the city’s already shrinking rental housing stock.
“I think both the Proposition I and F campaigns are challenged with financial resources, but they have the people resources,” said Scott Weaver of the San Francisco Tenants Union, calling the argument used by proponents of developing market-rate housing in order to replenish the city’s housing stock a “pipe dream.”
Though the supervisors, except for Kim, appeared to be absent from their offices when the activists came to petition them, supervisors Campos, Avalos and Mar have expressed support for Tenant Protection 2.0. Kim greeted the activists and reaffirmed her support.
The Planning Commission called a recess when the protesters arrived at its hearing.
Protesters pointed to increasing rents, the continual displacements of residents and businesses, and the City’s backing of corporate interests and developers as evidence that current protections for tenants were insufficient.
“The City sees the tech industry as a solution that trickles down to benefit middle-class moderate and low-income people — but if that really worked we would have seen some evidence of that by now,” Weaver said.
“We called it a crisis three years ago,” said Roberto Hernandez, a leader in the ‘Our Mission No Evictions’ campaign.
The organization has called on the city in the past to declare a state of emergency in order to place a moratorium on evictions.
“The mayor refused to do it, and the Board of Supervisors didn’t even consider it as an agenda item. So here we are three years later,” Hernandez said. “9,000 households throughout San Francisco have been evicted — the crisis is out of control, and their only plan in dealing with it is to develop more luxury housing.”