for+rent+sign.jpgSan Francisco residents temporarily displaced by fires or natural disasters would be allowed to rent other apartments at below-market rates if legislation introduced at today’s board meeting is approved.

The ordinance introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener comes in the wake of multiple suspected arsons in the past week in the city’s Castro District. The neighborhood is part of District 8, which Wiener represents.

At least three suspicious fires were reported within a few blocks of one another on Thursday and Friday, displacing more than a dozen people, fire and police officials said.

Wiener said tenants displaced by fires, earthquakes and other disasters are left without viable housing options in the city.

“The last thing they should have to deal with is where they should be housed,” he said.

The ordinance would allow tenants to enter an agreement for up to two years at either what they were paying at their previous residences or at up to 10 percent above that rate, Wiener said.

He said the legislation would “provide certainty” to landlords who are currently hindered from helping displaced residents by San Francisco housing laws.

Under the current laws, landlords cannot offer apartments at below-market rates temporarily without locking in that rent as the permanent rent-control base rent.

Wiener said outside today’s board meeting that he has talked to members of the San Francisco Tenants Union and San Francisco Apartment Association, and both sides “appear supportive” of the legislation.

“They’ve all had input” in the crafting of the proposal, he said.

He also said he thinks his fellow supervisors will support the ordinance.

“I haven’t spoken to all my colleagues, but the ones I’ve spoken to have been supportive,” Wiener said.

No arrests have been made in connection with last week’s arsons in the Castro District, and no new information about the blazes was immediately available, San Francisco fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said today.

Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call the Police Department’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or the fire department’s arson investigators at (415) 920-2937.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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