San Francisco police officer William Ma stands guard on a street corner in Chinatown on March 18, 2021. | Justin Sullivan | Getty Images)
This week’s Board of Supervisors meeting features an update on the San Francisco Police Department's reform efforts, new rules for Ellis Act evictions, and more funds for the public health nonprofit Health Right 360, among other issues. (As always, wonks looking for the full kit and caboodle can check out the complete agenda.)
Topping Up Payments for Ellis Act Evictions
Up for approval is legislation from District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar that places new costs and rules on landlords taking advantage of the Ellis Act, a state law that allows eviction of all tenants from a property as long as it’s being taken off the rental market. Property owners often use the Ellis Act to clear tenants from a property when they want to change its use, such as converting it to condominiums.
The Ellis Act requires landlords to take steps to soften the impact of the eviction on tenants. In San Francisco, that means thatlandlords need to provide relocation assistance payments. Currently those payments are $7,426 per occupant, capped at $22,280 per unit. Landlords must pay an additional $4,951 for every tenant who is a senior or disabled.
Melgar’s new ordinance would increase those payments to $10,000 per tenant, up to a limit of $30,000 per unit, with an additional $6,700 paid to senior or disabled tenants. It would also tighten rules for when a property cleared by an Ellis eviction can be returned to market.
Back in 2014, then-Supervisor David Campos also introduced and helped to pass legislation to raise relocation payments, but with a different formula. That legislation was eventually thrown out in court.
The Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee passed Melgar’s legislation unanimously on May 16.
Police Reforms, Cont.
Tuesday’s meeting will also feature a sixth hearing on the Collaborative Reform Initiative, a sweeping reform plan between the San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Justice that deals with racial bias, use of force, community policing, transparency and staffing issues.
At the last hearing on March 22, Chief Bill Scott testified that SFPD was in compliance with 90% of the recommendations, and discussed reform efforts that have since continued to take shape. Those include unconscious bias training, and the phasing out of certain types of traffic stops where police use minor violations to investigate unrelated crimes.
Reform advocates say that the so-called “pretextual stops” strain the relationship between police and communities and lead to use-of-force violations.
Police will likely showcase continued improvements in reforms and staffing diversity, along with a decline in new recruits. Police have frequently pointed to staffing challenges in the department, but some supervisors remain skeptical of its call for more resources.
Mayor London Breed aims to increase police funding as part of a renewed public safety agenda, and that agenda is likely to grow contentious during upcoming budget discussions.
Health Nonprofit Gets a Raise
Another item of note on Tuesday’s agenda is a resolution to significantly increase a citywide service contract between the Department of Public Health and Health Right 360, a key service provider at the controversial Tenderloin Center.
Formerly called the Linkage Center, the Tenderloin Center has generated considerable scrutiny since it opened in January as part of Breed’s Tenderloin emergency initiative.
A review of public records by The Standard found that the site was described to the public as a place for connecting addicts and others in need to services, but quickly evolved into a de-facto safe consumption site. Such sites are prohibited under federal and state laws.
Health Right 360, one of the largest public health contractors in San Francisco with more than $53 million in payments from the city this year, played a lead role in establishing the Linkage Center.
The agreement does not address the Tenderloin Center, but instead with providing residential substance use treatment and behavioral health outpatient services at a number of other sites, which serve more than 1,800 patients, according to the accompanying BLA report.
The resolution increases the agreement by $79.8 million to almost $164 million. It also extends the contract, which was started in 2018, through 2027.