Housing Rights Committee To Host Anti-Speculation Convention

Tomorrow, tenant-rights group Housing Rights Committee is hosting a convention where westside residents can discuss the impact of real estate speculation on the Richmond and Sunset districts while brainstorming tenant-focused solutions.

In a press release, HRC community organizer Cynthia Fong said the meeting will focus on speculation's relationship to citywide housing shortages, with a view to local solutions.

"Examples of speculative behavior include the displacement of legacy small businesses, evictions of long-term tenants, and the spike in short-term rentals," Fong wrote. "We are experiencing a housing crisis at the hands of greed; houses should be treated as homes and not vehicles for profit."

Real estate speculation is a touchy subject for San Franciscans. Property owners have a legal right to cash in on an investment, but "flipping" houses in a hot market contributes to soaring prices and displacement.

In 2014, local ballot measure Prop G proposed a new 14-to-24 percent "transfer tax" on residential multi-unit properties sold within five years of purchase. (The city's transfer tax currently caps out at under three percent.) Voters rejected the proposition, which lost by eight points.

The proposed 2014 measure, Fong said, came out of the belief that "speculation, specifically the flipping of houses, was really threatening tenants—especially long-term tenants on the west side."

She said the Sunset and Richmond are disproportionally impacted by speculation because these areas have high concentrations of long-term tenants with rent control. As a result, landlords have a higher incentive to replace those tenants with ones paying market-rate rents.

"That's kind of what we're seeing out here," Fong said, eviction "by any means necessary. ... We see the most number of owner move-in [evictions] now, the most number of Ellis Act evictions now."

It's unclear whether momentum to restrict real estate speculation citywide has grown in the three years since Prop G failed. But one of the other most prominent proposals to support housing affordability—2015's Prop F, also known as the "Airbnb Initiative"—also failed a year and a half ago.

Thursday's meeting will focus on tactical and potential policy measures to protect the Richmond and Sunset neighborhoods from speculative real estate practices, said Fong.

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Housing rights committee to host anti speculation convention