In the Know

Legislators have been busy creating and changing housing laws at the state and local level. Rental property owners need to stay informed to stay afloat.

Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA)
On June 3, 2019, the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act became law. The ordinance requires property owners to give certain nonprofit organizations the right to make a first offer on a property, as well as the right to match any subsequent offers on the property. The law applies to properties with three or more units and vacant land.

However, property owners do not need to take any action and do not need to offer their properties to nonprofits until the city issues regulations for the law on September 3, 2019. 

SFAA and other industry groups are reviewing our options to have the courts look at the ordinance and potentially put it on hold before it can be implemented. Please look out for future updates or reach out to the SFAA office for updates on the status of COPA.

Statewide Rent Gouging Bill (AB1482)
AB 1482 proposes to impose a statewide rent gouging cap on all rental housing of 5% plus the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and if passed, will prohibit rental property owners from increasing the rent above this amount retroactively to March 15, 2019. The bill does not change local rent control laws.

New Disclosure and Sign Requirements (Proposition 65)
Beginning July 1, 2019, property owners, management companies and leasing agents with 10 employees or more will have to give new Proposition 65 disclosures to all new and existing residents. The disclosure is mandatory under state law and is already part of the SFAA online lease. In addition, buildings with enclosed parking facilities or designated smoking areas are currently required to post newly revised Prop 65 signs on their properties. SFAA currently has compliant Prop 65 signs available for pickup (see order form on page 39). The Prop 65 disclosure and sign requirements are applicable to all businesses with 10 or more employees.

New Registrations, Regulations and Fees for Vacant Storefronts
As of April 22, 2019, the city revised its regulations and enforcement around vacant storefronts. Vacant storefronts must register and pay a registration fee with the Department of Building Inspection within 30 days of becoming vacant. If the storefront gets rented, the owner will receive a prorated refund. If an owner or leaseholder has filed an application for permits, the storefront is not considered vacant.

The above content was provided by SFAA Director of Government Affairs Charley Goss.

Free SFAA Multifamily Fire Safety Event
In the wake of several high-profile apartment fires, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a comprehensive set of new safety requirements for all multifamily building owners (for more information on the new safety requirements, turn to page 34). Even though some aspects of these laws have been in effect since 2017, many owners still don’t know all of the requirements of this legislation.

SFAA is working together with the San Francisco Fire Department and the Department of Building Inspection to host a free educational fire safety event on Thursday, September 5 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center. The one-time-only event is open to the entire community.

“SFAA is sponsoring this free workshop because we recognize how important it is for all owners, not just members, to be in compliance with this important but potentially confusing set of requirements,” said Deputy Director Vanessa Khaleel. “Learning about fire safety is critical not only to improve safety for tenants and protect properties, but also to stay out of trouble with the city.”

In addition to representatives from city agencies, the free event will also include an industry expert who can speak to the logistics behind implementing these requirements, as well as a viewing of the video that all tenants are supposed to watch as a part of this new legislation. Vendors who service fire escapes and perform other life-safety tasks will also be on hand to answer questions.

“This event is an opportunity for owners, property managers and their staff to do everything from learn about potential code violations to get bids on newly required fire safety equipment,” said Khaleel. “It’s a one-stop shop for fire safety—and it’s free!”

Housing for Educators
The Affordable Homes for Educators and Families NOW Act, slated for the November 2020 ballot, is an initiative to grow San Francisco’s housing stock for education employees. The act proposes rezoning to allow for lots bigger than 10,000 square feet and public land (except parks) to be 100% affordable or educator housing. The legislation would also waive density restrictions and streamline the development of educator housing in the same way it’s streamlined for other affordable housing projects.

The proposed legislation defines an educator as an employee of San Francisco Unified School District or San Francisco City College, including staff and custodians. The plan would require that at least one employee of SFUSD or CCSF live in each unit. Supervisors Walton, Haney,
Peskin and Fewer co-sponsored the bill.

Mayor Breed is working on a similar proposal for educator housing as well, however her plan differs from the above in that it would exempt neighborhoods zoned for single family homes from multi-unit developments for educators, and would only require that two-thirds of the units in said buildings be inhabited by teachers. The Mayor’s plan would also allow an additional 10 feet of height on parcels zoned for 40 feet.

“We have to get better at building housing in this city, and we can’t continue to let bureaucracy and endless appeals stand in the way of homes for those struggling to afford to live in this city,” said Mayor Breed. Supervisors Brown, Safai and
Stefani support the Mayor’s bill. 

If neither party withdraws their proposed, competing legislation, voters will see both measures on the November 2020 ballot.

SFAA June Member Meeting
The June 17th SFAA member meeting 

was held at the Jewish Community Center in Kanbar Hall. The meeting began with the monthly Legal Q & A, moderated by Dave Wasserman of Wasserman & Stern, which covered COPA, passthroughs, decrease in services, and the illegal use of roof decks (for more on illegal rooftop use, turn to page 26).

The meeting was co-sponsored by AEC Alarms and Kim Boyd Birmingham of Rent Board Passthroughs. Edward Peng first took the stage, speaking at length about the 2016 Ordinance 163-16 and Fire Code 1103.7.6.1, and how important it is for landlords to comply to keep their tenants safe and avoid the steep penalties. See page 34 for more information about the upcoming deadline to comply.

Meeting attendees then heard form Kim Boyd Birmingham, who detailed the dos and don’t of achieving successful passthroughs. She answered questions from SFAA members about seismic passthroughs and other passthroughs resulting from city-mandated upgrades.

The meeting then turned over to the San Francisco Rent Board. Senior Administrator Joey Koomas gave a presentation about the type of work that does and doesn’t qualify for passthroughs, maximum increases, tenant objections, and changes to laws effecting debt service, property tax, and management expenses passthroughs. Executive Director Robert Collins presented the city’s buyout data covering the last few years. After their presentation, they answered questions from meeting attendees. Rent Board Exectutive Director Robert Collins and new commissioner Art Tom attended the meeting to speak to members afterward.

For handouts and minutes from the member meeting and more information on the legislative updates, go to