San Francisco Apartment Association
home membership education & events legislation magazine community resources

SFAA News — April 2012

Bike Bonanza
Legislation recently approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors requires commercial property owners of existing buildings to provide secure bicycle parking or, alternatively, to allow their tenants to bring bikes into their rented offices, shops and restaurants.

However, it would be up to the tenants to decide whether to let their employees store their bikes at work. Nothing would compel employers to allow bikes on their premises. San Francisco already requires new commercial development and new residential properties with four or more units to provide onsite bicycle storage.

Landlords can seek an exemption from the law from the city's Department on the Environment. In addition, landlords can restrict bike access to their buildings, for example, setting rules on what doors, stairwells and elevators can be used, if they craft a written plan for city review. Also, the legislation currently does not contain any penalties if building owners refuse to comply.

With an estimated 75,000 daily cyclists in San Francisco, trips by bike account for an estimated 3.5% of all trips in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The city's goal is that 20% of commute trips be on bike by 2020.

Monday Night Fever April 16
On Monday, April 16, 2012, the San Francisco Apartment Association will hold its annual boutique tradeshow at Fort Mason. The SFAA's Monday Night Fever Disco Blast will cover all facets of the multifamily housing industry. Professionals who provide San Francisco's rental housing industry with top products and services will be on hand and happy to speak to all attendees. Looking for a painter, an attorney or someone who removes mold? Come talk to the leading industry professionals.

The event runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and kicks off with free property management classes. Subject matter includes three-day notices, the application process and a presentation on bedbugs.

Members are invited to explore the disco-themed tables. Bring your friends, as this event is free and open to the general public. Parking is available for a small fee.

For more information, or to register for a booth please contact Vanessa Khaleel at Click here for more information on sponsorship levels.

City's Green Energy Plan Faces Questions
San Francisco's CleanPowerSF program is facing questions from San Franciscans and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors about how "green" the green energy program actually is and whether or not San Francisco can afford the hefty costs associated with the program.

CleanPowerSF was supposed to be a "100% green" energy program that would provide electricity to select municipal government, business and residential customers. But critics say the contract the city is consider- ing with shell energy of north america will actually create no new green jobs and no new green generation.

Additionally, local residents are beginning to raise concerns over the impact the new program could have on their wallets. under cleanpowersf, customers could see their bills increase by an average of about $22.93 per month, with typical increases ranging from $7 to $54 per month. and the city will be forced to pay $19.5 million in startup costs just to get the program off the ground at a time when it is facing an enormous budget deficit.

Important city agencies and programs are also expected to feel the impacts through increases in their energy bills and cutbacks on department budgets. several city departments, from Municipal Railway to the Recreation and Parks Department, will have to pay more for electricity -- costs they may have to pass onto San Francisco residents in the form of fees. Many people in San Francisco have long supported the idea of making the city a model for green energy, but the next few months will determine whether or not the cleanpowersf program being considered is actually good enough to get that done.

Help Clean Up the Sidewalks
The San Francisco Department of Public Works is asking for property owners' help to keep the city's sidewalks clear. As part of the department's "Don't Leave It on the Sidewalk" campaign, DPW requests that owners remind renters that they are entitled to annual free bulky item curbside collection.

Each year, the city picks up tens of thousands of bulky items that have been left on sidewalks (including old computers, tvs, furniture and mattresses), mainly by tenants. These items are often left outside of apartment complexes and are dumped most often at the beginning and the end of the month. Not only does the clean up cost the city $4 million a year, but property owners and management companies can be fined up to $1,000 for illegal dumping, even if the items were left behind by other parties.

Let your tenants know that they can call Recology at 415-330-1300 to schedule a free curbside bulky item pick up. if you would like informational materials for your tenants, please contact DPW's Community Liaison Greg Crump at 415-641-2625 or

New Crackdown on Signs
The city is cracking down on improper building signage. Several property management companies have reported being hit with notices of violation from the city's planning department for installing "general advertising signs without benefit of a permit."

After receiving the notice, there are two options: either apply for a permit to remove the signs or request a reconsideration of the violation. If neither action is taken within 30 days, financial penalties will begin, depending on the size of the sign. For example, for a sign that is 4-square feet, the penalty is $100 a day per sign.

For more information, go to

SF Foreclosures Rife with Irregularities
An audit by San Francisco county officials of about 400 recent foreclosures determined that almost all involved either legal violations or suspicious documentation, according to a report commissioned by Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting. The report examined files of properties subject to foreclosure sales in the city from January 2009 to November 2011. About 84% of the files contained what appear to be clear violations of law, it said, and fully two-thirds had at least four violations or irregularities.

The improprieties range from the basic -- a failure to warn borrowers that they were in default on their loans as required by law -- to the arcane. For example, transfers of many loans in the foreclosure files were made by entities that had no right to assign them and institutions took back properties in auctions even though they had not proved ownership.

The report was released just days after the $26 billion settlement over foreclosure improprieties between five major banks and 49 state Attorneys General, including California's. Among other things, that settlement requires participating banks to reduce mortgage amounts outstanding on a wide array of loans and provide $1.5 billion in reparations for borrowers who were improperly removed from their homes.

Ting, who is running for assembly, said he would forward his findings and foreclosure files to the Attorney General's office and to local law enforcement officials. Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General, announced a joint investigation into foreclosure abuses in December 2011 with the nevada Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto. The joint investigation spans both civil and criminal matters.

California has been among the states hurt the most by the mortgage crisis. Because its laws, like those of 29 other states, do not require a judge to oversee foreclosures, the conduct of banks in the process is rarely scrutinized. Ting said his report was the first rigorous analysis of foreclosure improprieties in California and that it cast doubt on the validity of almost every foreclosure it examined.

The report contradicted many banks' contentions that foreclosure improprieties did little harm because the borrowers were behind on their mortgages and should have been evicted anyway. "We can deduce from the public evidence," the report noted, "that there are indeed legitimate victims in the mortgage crisis. Whether these homeowners are systematically being deprived of legal safeguards and due process rights is an important question."