MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF
THE SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENTIAL RENT
STABILIZATION & ARBITRATION BOARD,
Tuesday, September 20, 2005 at 6:00 p.m. at
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70, Lower Level
I. Call to Order
Vice-President Marshall called the meeting to order at 6:09 p.m.
II. Roll Call
Commissioners Present: Becker; Gruber; Hurley; Justman; Marshall.
Commissioners not Present: Henderson; Mosbrucker; Mosser; Murphy; Wasserman;
Staff Present: Wolf.
III. Approval of the Minutes
MSC: To approve the Minutes of September 6, 2005 with the following correction: on page 5, concerning the appeal of the tenant at 750 Gonzalez Drive #7E, the motion should read as follows: “To accept the appeal of the tenant at 750 Gonzalez Drive #7E and remand the case for a hearing on the tenant’s claim of financial hardship.” (new language underlined)
IV. Remarks from the Public
A. Tenant Phillip Flores of 237 Parque Drive (AL050216) brought in additional documents that he had just obtained yesterday, and said that he “just wants to have an answer and have the case settled.”
B. Landlord Vladimir Eydelshteyn of 237 Parque Drive told the Board that the tenant’s rent was increased based on additional housing services he received, but that he hasn’t received full rent from the tenant for the past six years. He told the Board that the tenant is actually a Master Tenant who took a subtenant to court for non-payment of rent. Mr. Eydelshteyn believes this proves that the tenant had an extra room that he was making money off of.
V. Consideration of Appeals
A. 1550 Bay St. #C135 AL050217
The landlord’s petition for certification of capital improvement costs was granted, in part. The tenants in one unit appealed the decision on the grounds of financial hardship, and the case was remanded for a hardship hearing. The Administrative Law Judge found sufficient hardship to warrant permanent deferral of the approved passthrough. The landlord appeals the remand decision, claiming that: the tenants do not meet the criteria for hardship; one of the tenants receives cash income from working construction jobs and lied under penalty of perjury at the remand hearing; and the other tenant chooses to work two days per week, rather than full time.
MSC: To accept the appeal and remand the case to the Administrative Law Judge on the record only to provide that the landlord may re-open the case in no less than two years if she has reason to believe that the tenants’ financial circumstances have changed. (Becker/Gruber: 5-0)
B. 1860 Jackson St. #103 AT050218
The tenant’s petition alleging decreased housing services due to a broken hall closet door and inconvenience associated with a tandem parking space was denied. The tenant appeals on the grounds that: having to move another tenant’s car every time he leaves his parking space constitutes a substantial inconvenience, not experienced by any other tenant in the building; it is reasonable to expect that the other tenant should be able to move his standard transmission automobile; the landlord has failed to reasonably accommodate him by forcing another tenant in the building to trade parking spaces with him; and the landlord should not be entitled to recover attorney’s fees associated with the Rent Board hearing, as it is not a “legal action or proceeding,” nor does it involve enforcement of any part of the lease.
MSC: To deny the appeal but have the Executive Director send a letter to the landlord’s attorney clarifying that Rent Board policy does not allow for the award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in a Rent Board proceeding, and that the Rent Board will ask the Office of the City Attorney to intervene should the landlord pursue the issue of attorney’s fees. (Hurley/Gruber: 5-0)
C. 237 Parque Dr. AL050216
The tenant’s petition alleging an unlawful rent increase was granted and the landlord was found liable to the tenant in the amount of $12,200.00. The landlord appeals, claiming that: the rent increase was based on additional housing services; the tenant agreed to pay for all utilities for the unit, which he has failed to do; and the tenant is collecting rent and acting as a Master Tenant.
After discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to continue consideration of this appeal in order to obtain a Memorandum from the Administrative Law Judge.
D. 1438 Jefferson St. AT050219
The tenant’s petition alleging unlawful rent increases was granted and the landlord was found liable to the tenant in the amount of $24,888.60. The tenant appeals the decision, maintaining that an increase of less than .5% in excess of limitations should have been declared null and void because it was not given in a good faith attempt to comply with the Ordinance.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Gruber/Hurley: 3-2; Becker,
E. 338 Connecticut St. AT050220
The tenant’s appeal was filed almost four months late because the tenant claims to have been misinformed by the landlord regarding the requirements for certification of capital improvement costs.
MSC: To find good cause for the late filing of the appeal. (Becker/Justman: 4-1; Gruber dissenting)
The landlord’s petition for certification of capital improvement costs to one unit was granted, resulting in a monthly passthrough in the amount of $92.48. The tenant appeals the decision, claiming that: the work was necessitated by the landlord’s failure to perform routine repair and maintenance; the tenant has been paying a rent increase to cover the costs of the improvements; the Rent Board should have pre-approved the work because the costs were in excess of $25,000; and the tenant suffered a substantial decrease in services when the rear stairs and deck were being rebuilt.
MSC: To deny the appeal without prejudice to the tenant offsetting from future rental payments any amounts she has paid in excess of the approved capital improvement passthrough. (Justman/Hurley: 5-0)
In addition to correspondence concerning cases on the calendar, the Commissioners received the following communications:
A. The office workload statistics for the month of August, 2005.
B. Articles from Beyond Chron regarding two recent court rulings in cases regarding Ellis evictions, and a task force on Ellis evictions being convened by Supervisor Peskin and Mayor Newsom.
C. A Memorandum from City Attorney Dennis Herrera regarding political activity by City officers and employees.
D. A Water Revenue Bond Passthrough Worksheet and brochure addressing frequently asked questions on water bond passthroughs authored by Senior Administrative Law Judge Sandy Gartzman, with assistance from Senior Administrative Law Judge Tim Lee. The Commissioners wished to commend Ms. Gartzman and Mr. Lee on their exceptional work.
IV. Remarks from the Public (cont.)
C. Tenant John Hooper of 1860 Jackson St. #103 (AT050218) expressed his belief that the Board should have looked more carefully at the inconvenience he experienced before denying his appeal. Mr. Hooper also told the Board that no one had mentioned any potential liability for the landlord’s attorney’s fees, which he cannot afford to pay. Mr. Hooper said that if he had known about this possibility, he would not have filed the petition.
VIII. Calendar Items
September 27th, October 4th & 11th, 2005 - NO MEETINGS
October 18, 2005
5 appeal considerations (1 cont. from 9/20/05)
New Business: Residential Hotel Visitor Policy
Vice-President Marshall adjourned the meeting at 7:22 p.m.