by Eric Andresen
In November, we gathered together at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Hotel to celebrate our association’s 100th anniversary. Founded as the Owner’s and Lessee’s Apartment House Association in 1917, we have made quite a history for ourselves, and we celebrated in style that night. The evening began with welcome cocktails and then moved on to an elegant dinner and commendations from many of our friends and colleagues. Finally, the evening concluded as any good party should—on the dance floor. Thank you, Janan New, Vanessa Khaleel, and the rest of the SFAA staff for throwing such a memorable party!
On hand to issue a State Senate Proclamation was State Senator Scott Wiener, who spoke eloquently of our history and accomplishments. When he was a San Francisco supervisor, he sponsored so many incredible pieces of legislation, like the Good Samaritan Program that we’re now able to use to help victims of the Napa and Sonoma fires. Now in the State Senate, even as a freshman member, Senator Wiener has already made a name for himself and is doing a phenomenal job representing not only all of us in San Francisco, but all of the people of California.
Assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu presented an Assembly Proclamation and took time to recognize our accomplishments and our work together. Both served remarkable terms in office here in San Francisco, and have continued their representation in the California Assembly. It is a pleasure to work with them in Sacramento, and we are grateful for their support and continued friendship.
Our friend, Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, was there, too, and was proud to present us with a beautiful certificate on behalf of her office. Carmen looks forward to being re-elected next year and continuing to serve our incredible “City by the Bay.”
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom sent us a wonderful video, extolling our work together over the years, and looking forward to the work we will do in the future. A link to this video can found on the SFAA website. Newsom will have quite the year in 2018 as he runs for governor.
We are also honored to have received a special proclamation from Supervisor Aaron Peskin, on behalf of the Board of Supervisors, in which he wrote: “Since 1917, the San Francisco Apartment Association has kept San Francisco housing owners informed about how to responsibly manage their property in the city’s evolving economic and regulatory landscape. The San Francisco Apartment Association has evolved into a leading organization in the community, a driving force striving to improve the quality of life of its members, its members’ tenants, and the general community. Be it resolved that the City and County of San Francisco hereby extends its highest commendation on the occasion of the San Francisco Apartment Association’s 100th anniversary.”
Board President London Breed was able to join us during our cocktail reception, as was Supervisor Ahsha Safai, and we are so grateful for the board’s recognition. Also present before dinner was former Mayor Willie Brown, who we enjoyed seeing as he regaled us with his own memories of working with us on residential rental issues over the years. We were honored that Treasurer Jose Cisneros could join us, as well. And let’s not forget the fun antics of Lou Seal, the San Francisco Giants mascot, who spent over an hour posing with dozens of our members.
I was also honored to present a special certificate that was sent to us by our dear friend, Fiona Ma, who now serves as the Chair of the State’s Board of Equalization. Fiona, too, has spent many years working with us, locally and when she served in the State Assembly. In Chairwoman Ma’s Certificate of Recognition she wrote: “The people of San Francisco are fortunate to be served by an institution of the caliber of the San Francisco Apartment Association, an organization that has proven to be a healthy and positive force within the community. Now, therefore, be it resolved by Board Member Fiona Ma, that the San Francisco Apartment Association be congratulated upon the occasion of its 100th anniversary, commended for the outstanding contributions it has made to San Francisco and beyond, and extended sincere best wishes for its continued success in the future.”
We received national appreciation in a letter and Certificate of Recognition from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, honoring our many years of service to our community and the city. “Congratulations as you come together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Apartment Association and its many achievements and contributions to our community. For many decades, SFAA has been looked to for leadership and expertise with landlord-tenant legislation and legal issues. SFAA has continuously provided advocacy and valuable information to apartment owners and renters. Please accept my best wishes for your continued success and for a memorable evening
Senator Diane Feinstein honored us with a beautiful U.S. Senate Certificate of Commendation, extolling our professional and ethical representation of the industry. In the commendation, Senator Feinstein writes: “Since 1917, SFAA has evolved into a cornerstone of the San Francisco community, that is committed to helping property owners protect the value of their investments, keeping members informed about property rights, and providing legislative and political advocacy. As a United States Senator representing the people of California, I commend SFAA on a century of service to the San Francisco community, and extend my best wishes for success in the years to come.”
It was quite an incredible evening, as you will witness on pages 46-55 of this month’s magazine. And, for those who weren’t able to attend, I have reprinted an edited version of my speech, below. Congratulations, SFAA, and here’s to another 100 incredible years!
“Welcome to the San Francisco Apartment Association’s 100th Anniversary Celebration! Good evening, everyone. My name is Eric Andresen, and I am privileged to serve as your Association President and lead this celebration of the SFAA’s 100 incredible years.
“Our association began back in 1917 when a group of rental property owners decided that San Francisco legislators were passing laws without paying any attention to owners’ concerns. Sounds familiar, right? That group was known as the Owners & Lessees Apartment House Association. And while the name might have been different back then, many of their issues were remarkably similar—the concerns back then included reducing crime, cleaning up the neighborhoods, dealing with local and Sacramento legislation, the rental market and vacancy rates, and high insurance, water and utility rates.
“Back when the association was founded, many areas of the city were still being rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake. Instead of techies there were flappers, and the Barbary Coast was in full swing. Tenancies back then were primarily only month-to-month, and most apartments were furnished. For enforcement, owners had what was called the Baggage Lien Law, which gave apartment managers the right to confiscate a tenant’s personal possessions if rent wasn’t paid.
“Back in 1928, a new 28-unit building on the 1900 block of Broadway was sold for a record $250,000. That property is worth more than $10 million today. Monthly rents in the 1920s averaged around $100. And believe it or not, a serious concern was that San Francisco was being overbuilt, that there were way too many available apartments.
“In 1938, in spite of our fierce opposition, the San Francisco Housing Authority was created. In 1939, in response to several highly volatile political proposals and some rogue actions of a few members, the association passed a By-Laws revision that stated: ‘This Association shall take no part in partisan politics, nor shall it sponsor or endorse any political candidate.’ Wow! Quite a surprising statement considering one of our primary functions today is to represent our members in political and legislative venues and everything seems to be partisan.
“In 1950, the association’s membership reached 2,400. In 1953, the association successfully beat down the first attempts at rent control. And in 1956, the memberships of both the Owners & Lessees Apartment House Association and the San Francisco Apartment House Association voted unanimously to merge, and the new group became the Apartment House Associations Consolidated. It was in the early 1980s that our name was changed again, to the current San Francisco Apartment Association.
“The role and the challenges for the association have changed over the years, but the core mission still remains the same: to help owners legally and effectively manage their rental properties through formal education programs and events, and to provide legislative and political advocacy and representation. We did it then and we still do it today.
“With 100 years under our belt, we are now a major political force in San Francisco and, with the partnership of the California Apartment Association, we’re a legislative powerhouse throughout the state. We should be very proud of our long, incredible history, and I think that’s a major reason why we are all here this evening—to celebrate our past and look forward to our continued success in the future.
“The San Francisco Apartment Association now leads the way in property-owner education and support through countless classes and seminars, and through the prestigious Certified Property Manager certification series. But lately our most important task has been to represent all of you in the legislative and political arena, advocating for your rights and protecting your property values.
“Over the years, we have begun to make a significant difference, and that is evident in the recognition we are receiving tonight from our local, state and federal legislators.
“100 years is an incredible milestone, witnessed by so many of you who have joined us here tonight, and so many guests and recognitions from some very special friends. We have accomplished so much over the years, but clearly we will always have our work cut out for us. The challenges are many, but they provide some excitement and many opportunities to further our cause to protect your rights and your property, and to continue to allow all of us to provide safe, reliable and dependable housing to the people of San Francisco.
“So please join me in a toast—Here’s to 100 incredible years, to our continued success over the next 100 years, and to our industry, which provides some of the best housing in the world! Cheers!”