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

SFAA News — August 2010

Restructured Rent Board Tabled 
SFAA would like to thank all of its members who contacted their supervisors and let them know that a proposed restructuring of the San Francisco Rent Board Commission would be disastrous for rental housing in San Francisco. On July 20, the Board of Supervisors voted to table a proposed ballot initiative that would have restructured the commission so that it was comprised of two tenant reps, two landlord reps and three “neutral” members. That was the last day supervisors could have put the measure on the November ballot. The idea for a restructured Rent Board may resurface again, but it will definitely not be on the ballot in November.

Currently, the Rent Board Commission is comprised of five voting members (each member has an alternate): two landlords, two tenants and one neutral. The mayor appoints each of the members, and, since at least the 1990s, all mayors have diligently solicited input from the various industry groups before making an appointment. The charter amendment that was being debated for the November ballot would have changed not only the structure of the board, but also who appoints its members. Under the initiative, the Board of Supervisors would have had more say over who was appointed to the commission. “The long-term effect would be catastrophic,” explained SFAA Board President David Wasserman.
After members call their supervisors to thank them for tabling this restructuring, SFAA also recommends that they give Rent Board Executive Director Delene Wolf a call to thank her for coming out against June’s Measure F, Supervisor Chris Daly’s so-called “renter’s relief” initiative. The measure failed at the polls, garnering only 42% of the vote.“I think the fact that the mayor and the Rent Board came out against Prop. F publicly really helped us out a lot,” explained SFAA Executive Director Janan New. 

Condo Conversion Plan Shot Down
A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee has rejected the mayor’s plan to raise $8 million by allowing some properties already in the condo lottery to be converted into condominiums. The plan would have allowed nearly 1,800 units to be converted, some of which have been languishing in the lottery for five years.
San Francisco’s lottery system selects 200 units annually for conversion into condominiums. With 1,799 units having lost the lottery this year and a multimillion-dollar deficit to close, Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed legislation that would allow these units to bypass the lottery system by paying a maximum fee of $20,000 per unit. The cost would’ve been reduced depending on the number of years the building had participated in the lottery.

Unfortunately, the plan was tabled by the Budget and Finance Committee, effectively killing it. Supervisors David Campos, Sophie Maxwell and John Avalos voted to table it, while Supervisor Sean Elsbernd voted not to. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi was excused from the vote, as he has applied to convert his home into a condo.

So, where will the city get the money to fill in this $8 million hole, among others in the 2011-2012 budget? The board’s answer seems to be new taxes. Several measures are proposed to go before voters in November that would affect how much businesses, property owners and drivers are taxed to help pay for city programs.

Supervisor David Chiu is sponsoring legislation to impose a tax on commercial rents. It would capture some businesses, like banks and insurance companies, which state law now exempts from the city’s business payroll tax. Meanwhile, Supervisor Avalos has called for increasing the transfer tax on certain properties and Supervisor Mirkarimi wants to boost the city’s parking tax. A separate tax increase on hotel guests is also likely to be on the November ballot. Combined, the measures are projected to total at least $100 million in new taxes.

Attention Resident Managers
After several years of writing her informative and entertaining column, “Onsite Insight,” SF Apartment Magazine columnist “Riley” is moving on. That means SF Apartment Magazine has an opening for a new onsite resident manager with a creative and insightful take on this one-of-a-kind position within the apartment industry.

Columnist candidates should submit a cover letter explaining why they are perfect for the job to Editor Emily Landes by September 1. Please send a cover letter and two writing samples to

Trophy Award Nominations Are Now Open
Do you know an individual or business in the rental housing industry that deserves to be recognized for their dedication and hard work? The San Francisco Apartment Association is proud to announce that it is now accepting nominations for the 2010 SFAA Trophy Awards. The Trophy Awards will honor the best of San Francisco’s Rental Housing Community on Thursday, November 18, at the beautiful Palace Hotel.

There are “Best of the Year” categories for buildings and individuals. The categories are: Independent Owner, Property Management Firm, Green Building/ Company, Residential Amenities, Repositioned Property, New Development, Industry Partner, Property Manager, General Manager, Resident Manager, Assistant Manager, Leasing Agent/Consultant, Administrative Professional, Maintenance Manager and Maintenance Technician. Several categories are subdivided, depending on the number of units owned or managed.

To purchase tickets or to see the nomination form, check out For more information about the 2010 Trophy Awards, including sponsorship information and ticket options, please contact Charley Goss at 415-255-2288 ext. 14 or email

Lead Safety Class September 16
SFAA is offering a class to help members understand and comply with recent changes in EPA regulations. The EPA has revised its Lead-Based Paint Renovation and Repair Regulations and now requires property owners and management companies to implement lead-safe work practices and certification training for paid contractors and maintenance professionals working in pre-1978 housing.

The course is a one-day, eight-hour class that explains how to comply with the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule. Subjects that will be covered include: health effects, regulations, lead-safe work practices, containment, cleaning and record keeping. The RRP class will be conducted in accordance with the EPA-accredited model course such that each student will be able to understand the material with little or no knowledge of lead-based paint.

The class will be held Wednesday, September 16, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. The class is limited to 20 people and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. It is only open to SFAA members and the fee is $255. For more information, or to register for the class, contact Lisa Fricke at 415-255-2288 or

No Free Pass from Fannie Mae
Fannie Mae recently announced that it would “lock out” borrowers who decide to default on their mortgages. The lock out will last for seven years and will only apply to borrowers who default on a mortgage they could afford to pay, but decided to walk away from because they owe more than the home is worth. The government-sponsored lender also said it would step up legal action to pursue deficiency judgments in states that allow lenders to go after borrowers’ other assets. The announcement comes amid concerns that it has become socially acceptable to walk away from underwater mortgages, which has only worsened the foreclosure crisis.

The new rules says that owners who can’t document extenuating circumstances or show that they made an effort to avoid foreclosure must wait seven years to get a new loan. Those who can demonstrate hardship or an attempt to keep the home may have to wait for three years. However, Fannie also reduced to two years, from four years, the amount of time borrowers must wait after going through bankruptcy to get a new loan.