For the life of him, Mayor Gavin Newsom cannot understand this Board of Supervisors, especially “this current Board.” The Gang of 11 last year shot down the Mayor’s plan to raise “tens of millions” through changes to the city’s condominium conversion program, and looks poised to do so again this year, despite mayoral assurances that this is the right, proper, and mostover, money-generating thing to do (unless supervisors have $500 million or so underneath their collective couch cushions).
Every year, no more than 200 rental units can be converted into condominiums. Owners have to put their names on a list and, literally, win a lottery in order to win the ability to convert. The mayor wants to allow property owners to pay a onetime fee to skip the waiting process; that fee, as well as a higher tax base thanks to increased property values, could help balance the city’s books.
Progressive concerns that the conversions will ruin the city’s housing stock and force out poor folk are “scare tactics,” the Mayor said Wednesday at an afternoon press conference at beautiful Davies Symphony Hall — and what’s more, it’s hypocritical.
“It’s an ideological war by people who don’t like home ownership,” the Mayor said. “They keep fighting home ownership in this city because they don’t like the demographics — they don’t like the politics (of home owners). And I think it’s shameful,” he added. “Half of the members of the board have been beneficiaries of condo conversions, and yet they deny it to other people.”
Those are heavy words indeed to lob at the poor Board on the eve of budget season, and the Mayor may have been guilty of a bit of exaggeration.
A majority of Board members own their homes, according to a check of property records: mayoral allies Michela Alioto-Pier, Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu all enjoy the benefits of owning and equity, as do Sophie Maxwell and progressive Budget chairman John Avalos.
Eric Mar and David Chiu rent, according to a City Hall source. Chris Daly lives in a condo, but “my condo has always been a condo,” according to the supervisor (and according to the Assessor-Recorder’s Office, Daly at least bought his condo as a condo and not a tenancy-in-common or conversion).
By all accounts, progressive Ross Mirkarimi is on the condominium-conversion waitlist (an older news report says Ross owns a TIC and is on the conversion list; we’ll check in with him to confirm, he is at this moment still in committee). Mirkarimi and Bevan Dufty would be the two Board members conflicted-out of any votes on condo-conversions; Dufty went from a condo to a TIC after his daughter was born.
“And nobody was evicted,” the Bev told us today. “In fact, (a couple, Bevan’s neighbors) who had rented for 19 years became property owners.”