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New Condominium Conversion Law Proposed

By Andy Sirkin

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San Francisco Supervisors Dufty and Alioto-Pier have recently introduced new legislation that would allow certain TIC buildings to bypass the San Francisco condominium conversion lottery. As the legislation was originall drafted, a building would need to have met four conditions to qulify:

1. It would need to qualify to enter the 2005 condo lottery, meaning one unit would need to have been owner occupied since 1/20/02 for a 3-4 unit building, or three units would need to have been owner occupied since 1/20/02 for a 5-6 unit building;

2. It would need to have been owned as a tenancy in common since 1/20/02, which presumably means that that there would have to have been at least two owners at that time who held title as tenants in common;

3. It would need to have been 100% owner-occupied on January 25, 2005 (although not necessarily before or after that date); and

4. It would need to apply for conversion within 2005.

In a March 14 email, Supervisor Alioto-Pier wrote:

"We heard you: Condo conversion legislation expanded to include more
homeowners. As you probably know, in February, I, along with Supervisor Dufty,
sponsored legislation that would exempt certain 100% owner occupied TICs
from the condo conversion lottery. The legislation would have applied
to buildings that would have otherwise met the requirements to enter the
2005 lottery (such as buildings that meet either the three-year
residency requirement for 3 to 6 unit buildings or the one-year
residency requirement for 2 unit buildings).

However, after introducing the legislation, many San Francisco residents
contacted us with horror stories about how they would not qualify for
the exemption because a fellow owner had sold their share or moved out.
Many had lived in their units for years, but because of circumstances
beyond their control they do not qualify for the condo lottery.

Supervisor Dufty and I agreed that we needed to do something more. So,
we have put forward substitute legislation that will cover 100% owner
occupied TIC owners if:

1. You own or co-own a 2 - 6 unit TIC in San Francisco; and
2. The TIC is currently 100% owner occupied and has been since
January 20, 2005.

Under the new legislation, you are not required to meet the 1 year
occupancy requirement for 2 unit buildings or the 3 year occupancy
requirement for 3 to 6 unit buildings.

This legislation will provide a one-time exemption from the lottery that
will allow TIC owners in 100 % owner occupied buildings to have a more
stable and predictable future.

But, now we need your help.

The legislation will be heard before the Land Use Committee of the Board
of Supervisors at City Hall on March 30, 2005 at 3:00 PM. We need you
to come to the hearing to tell your personal story about the importance
of this legislation. In addition, we need you to contact the offices of
the Supervisors on the Land Use Committee to let them know how important
this legislation is to you and your family."

The likelihood of the new rules passing into law is unclear, but Supervisor Dufty is optimistic. He reports that he is getting a large number of calls, letters and emails from TIC owners who are frustrated by the difficulty of winning the condominium lottery. Keep up the pressure for change by contacting all of the Supervisors, especially your District Supervisor, and voicing support for this law, and also by letting Supervisors Dufty and Alioto-Pier know you appreciate their leadership on this issue.

Should the new law pass in roughly its current form, it will have a significant effect on all fully owner-occupied buildings. Moreover, by removing these buildings from future lottery pools, the law would significantly increase the chances of winning in those lotteries. Also, if the 2005 "amnesty" is deemed a political success, the program could be renewed in future years, or other changes could be made to ease restrictions on condominium conversions.

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