CFAH

A tenant’s challenge of the condo conversion of 74-76 Castro based on his HIV positive status is back in front of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors this afternoon. As we first reported three weeks ago:

At issue, whether or not the tenant’s HIV positive condition qualifies as being disabled, and as such entitles the tenant to a lifetime lease of the unit pursuant to San Francisco Subdivision Code 1391. And at stake, a potential eviction (post-conversion) if not.

We’ll note that from a procedural standpoint the tenant will likely be found to have prematurely claimed a lifetime lease, a right the Subdivision Code grants after conversion. And without an eviction on record, the parcel map and condo conversion will likely should be upheld (with the lifetime lease issue likely returning after).

We’ll also note that the building owners assert that the tenant offered to drop his claim in exchange for $150,000.

Also amongst the items on today’s Board agenda, the proposed appointment of Richard Johns and reappointment of Andrew Wolfram and Karl Hasz to San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission through the end of 2014.
Does Having HIV Make One Disabled? [SocketSite]
San Francisco Board of Supervisors Agenda: January 25, 2011 [sfbos.org]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by WatEVAR

    Full-blown AIDS? Sure. But one with HIV is hardly disabled. That code sorely needs to be changed/updated. A very good friend of mine is HIV+. He lives a normal life just like everyone else, has a full-time job, pays his rent, takes one pill/day and is undetectable. Stop using social crutches and being a parasite. Your game is very transparent.
    Oh, and I am a straight HIV-negative female, btw, since y’all must be wonderin’.

  2. Posted by lol

    Protection for a “potential” future sickness. Wow.
    I have mild scoliosis and it will probably render me crippled when I’m 80 or 90. Can I have my entitlement, please?

  3. Posted by lol

    That didn’t come out right. I am not comparing HIV with a minor condition. Just that a possible future condition shouldn’t be considered a disability.

  4. Posted by Anon-For-This

    I actually saw this guy at my gym, shorlty after seeing the article on here.
    Guy was benching 175# with no problem. Total, total crook..

  5. Posted by Sam

    Thanks for reporting on this Socketsite. Keep us updated as to how it progresses, will be interesting to see.

  6. Posted by jlasf

    I hope they can prove the $150,000 claim. It will prove that the guy is just trying to scam the owner.

  7. Posted by Gee Ess

    Can we modify our judicial / bureaucratic system to penalize people who clog it with crap claims? If these reports are true, I’d like to see this guy pay US $150,000 for all the time and resources of ours that he’s wasted trying to game the system. Why is it so hard for people to just be fricking decent …

  8. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Anon-For-This wrote:

    I actually saw this guy at my gym, shortly after seeing the article on here…Guy was benching 175# with no problem. Total, total crook…

    Actually, he or his lawyer have anticipated this objection and devised a, shall we say, clever answer for it in advance.
    From the appeal letter pg. 2 (pg. 4 of the acrobat file):

    My client has gone to great lengths to get and keep his person in good shape; this is necessary due to the life-threatening nature of his disease. Being in good physical shape helps his body fight HIV. Were [the complainant] to allow himself to fall off his exercise schedule, he would be tempting death. Further, my client works as a masseur. The income that he derives from that occupation is enough to keep him financially afloat—but not if he were forced to move from his rent-controlled home.

    …whether or not you agree, you have to be impressed by the rhetorical mastery at work here. The lawyer completely manages to address the obvious objection that someone in this guy’s physical condition is not disabled and then goes on to connect it to his need to have a rent-controlled apartment for the forseeable future, gliding over the probability that his client is working out because he’s a masseur and needs to look attractive because of his occupation in order to gain and keep clients. Well-played, if it works, but I hope it doesn’t.

  9. Posted by lol

    I don’t get it. There’s plenty of affordable housing at a reasonable commuting distance. Oakland, Daly, etc… Why the obsession with staying in a city you cannot afford?
    Why do private landlords have to subsidize someone else’s life choices? You want to live in a desirable city, make the sacrifices necessary, like taking evening/online classes to get a better education, or go to a trade that will give you a better income, or buy cheaper clothes, food, stuff.
    This whole renter protection is ridiculous, and I am not an SF landlord.

  10. Posted by sfrenegade

    “Further, my client works as a masseur. The income that he derives from that occupation is enough to keep him financially afloat—but not if he were forced to move from his rent-controlled home.”
    That was very good rhetoric, but is utter horse manure. Other people might not be able to live in San Francisco because their livelihood got chopped in the recent downturn too. This guy is the scam artist of the century, even if the bigger problem is bad regulation.
    This guy even pays $2800 a month, a not immodest sum. At least NY’s rent control law lets places phase out of rent control when they hit a certain rent level.

  11. Posted by tipster

    “I actually saw this guy at my gym, shortly after seeing the article on here…Guy was benching 175# with no problem.”
    Yeah! Right on! I saw an Iraq vet with no legs benching 175# last week. If he ever claims to be disabled from his wheelchair, I’d call him a liar to his face!

  12. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    sfrenegade wrote:

    This guy even pays $2800 a month, a not immodest sum.

    As someone commented in the previous thread, he must be recouping some of that as a business expense if indeed he works (that is, receives clients, as well as lives) at the place in question. salaryexpert.com shows the median salary of a masseur at less than $30K almost everywhere in the U.S. outside of Manhattan, NY, so even if we’re generous and assume that this guy makes approx. 36% more (to make round numbers), a back of the envelope calculation indicates he’d still be paying out over 80% of gross monthly income in rent.

  13. Posted by Longtime-Lurker

    “I actually saw this guy at my gym, shortly after seeing the article on here…Guy was benching 175# with no problem.”
    Yeah! Right on! I saw an Iraq vet with no legs benching 175# last week. If he ever claims to be disabled from his wheelchair, I’d call him a liar to his face! – Tipster
    Are you really trying to equate these two? lol…
    Really girl, pick and choose your snarky comments a little better. Because you just pooped the bed here – hard. An amputated Iraq war vet confined to a wheel chair = A “full release” masseur who contracted HIV who works out 24/7 to keep his online photos hot. Gotcha Tipster, thx.

  14. Posted by sfrenegade

    “As someone commented in the previous thread, he must be recouping some of that as a business expense if indeed he works (that is, receives clients, as well as lives) at the place in question.”
    I don’t know the specific SF rules on this, but for the IRS, you must be using a particular space in your residence exclusively for your business in order to get the home-office deduction, and the deduction would be based on the percentage of the overall residence exclusively used. For example, the “massage area,” can’t be your living room when you aren’t working. The IRS doesn’t typically audit this, however, so many people claim it without following the rules. You may be able to deduct some other costs for business expenses if you work from home, but the IRS knows that housing costs are easily open to abuse by fake businesses, so the rules are more stringent.

  15. Posted by Buy High Sell Low

    “Why do private landlords have to subsidize someone else’s life choices? You want to live in a desirable city, make the sacrifices necessary, like taking evening/online classes to get a better education, or go to a trade that will give you a better income, or buy cheaper clothes, food, stuff.
    This whole renter protection is ridiculous, and I am not an SF landlord.”
    I don’t think there are many SF landlords who will disagree with you. But SF has a lot of renters who will vote down any attempt to reign in rent control. So I guess (and I’m guessing) the game as a landlord here is to pick and choose clients carefully and somehow within the law such that they are likely to move out within 5 years.
    I’d never try because the thought of a pretend disabled renter (ow ow my nail! my nail!) scares the crap out of me, but it’s obvious some have learned how to play this game well.
    But then, my ex-gf and SF landlord herself used to park with an expired handicapped placard so there’s plenty of douchebaggery to go around.

  16. Posted by A.T.

    “You want to live in a desirable city, make the sacrifices necessary, like taking evening/online classes to get a better education, or go to a trade that will give you a better income, or buy cheaper clothes, food, stuff.”
    The irony of this statement is that if rent control went away, rents would quickly fall for the majority of renters (exception for long-term renters who would see an increase) as the artificial hindrances to rental vacancies would be removed. Renters could buy MORE “stuff,” not less.
    That said, the voters want rent control. That’s what they get. I respect democracy. I’m amazed there are so many landlords out there willing to subsidize – directly or indirectly – their tenants.

  17. Posted by Jim T.

    1/25/11 – The BOS tabled most of the motions concerning this issue upon receiving information from Sup. Scott Weiner that the parties had reached a settlement. Details of the settlement were not announced. The only motion not tabled is the one that would approve the condo conversion.

  18. Posted by WatEVAR

    “1/25/11 – The BOS tabled most of the motions concerning this issue upon receiving information from Sup. Scott Weiner that the parties had reached a settlement. Details of the settlement were not announced. The only motion not tabled is the one that would approve the condo conversion.”
    Translated: That means the lying, cheating bastard succeeded in extorting money from the landlord. Surprise, surprise.

  19. Posted by R

    I’m a landlord and I love rent control. Artificially raises the rates my tenants pay. If it went away, I’d have to lower their rents. That would be sad.

  20. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    When someone makes an economics-based argument, you always have to take into account the assumptions they made. A.T. wrote:

    if rent control went away, rents would quickly fall for the majority of renters (exception for long-term renters who would see an increase) as the artificial hindrances to rental vacancies would be removed. Renters could buy MORE “stuff,” not less.

    I think that most people who would vote in favor of rent control think that rents would not “quickly fall for the majority of renters” because, the thinking would go, we can’t hold constant, in the usual ceteris paribus hypothetical economics fashion, the rapacity of S.F. landlords.
    Whether or not that’s correct, I agree that in the medium-to-long term the dynamics you describe would bring things to an equilibrium.
    Also, we should keep in mind that the City isn’t the only place in California with rent control, either, so it’s not like there’s something especially weird about San Francisco renters in their thinking about this matter.
    Nevertheless, I don’t think this particular tenant should be granted a lifetime lease of the unit, condo conversion or not. I predict a denial of the appeal by the board.

  21. Posted by StockBoySF

    $2,800 in rent is very high for a masseur. I wonder if he has a live-in boyfriend to help pay rent? Maybe a sugar daddy or two? At any rate, I have never met him and don’t really know, but my gut tells me that he is using every angle he can to stay in his nice apartment. (I assume it’s nice- if he thought it was terrible he wouldn’t hire an attorney to stay there- the attorney is another costly expense…..).
    For $2,800 (or less) he can find probably find a two bedroom apartment that’s nice. Not luxurious, but nice.
    I did a quick search on Craigslist for 2 (or more) bedroom apartments, below $2,800/mth in Castro/Upper Market. This is the result:
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/apa/sfc?query=&srchType=A&minAsk=2000&maxAsk=2799&bedrooms=2&nh=4
    They all seem to be pretty decent. If I were in his position I would be looking to reduce expenses and save money as much as possible. He might be healthy now, but someday who knows? And clients are fickle with their money in difficult economic times.
    At any rate, I am still interested in learning how he affords all his expenses.

  22. Posted by lol

    Buy High Sell Low + A.T.,
    Yup, landlords have to play it well in this environment.

  23. Posted by nanon

    Won’t comment much on this particular case as its lack of merit is pretty obvious. But as a general thing, the City is saying that if someone becomes disabled they need to be taken care of, but the onus of that they will put onto a private citizen. Does anyone know if there are similar law in other cities?

  24. Posted by sfrenegade

    “Also, we should keep in mind that the City isn’t the only place in California with rent control, either, so it’s not like there’s something especially weird about San Francisco renters in their thinking about this matter.”
    Yes, places like Berkeley, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Los Angeles do have rent control, but San Francisco takes rent control farther than pretty much anywhere. San Francisco adds unheard of entitlements, has many more restrictions on pretty much anything a landlord can do, and requires larger cash payments as remedies. I believe even master tenant rights are much stronger here than they are in those cities, but I haven’t looked into that very carefully.
    Does even Berkeley allow lifetime leases? Lifetime leases are particularly egregious and should be eliminated. There are better ways to handle these situations than this absurd remedy. In Los Angeles, I believe the proper remedy is more money to a disabled tenant as relo, for example.
    Also, even trying to rent to college students who might move along after graduation doesn’t always work. I thought I remember reading about some guy who had lived in his place since 1960 when he was in college.
    Brahma, rent control also discourages investment in property, so that is part of the reason rents didn’t completely go down in Cambridge, for example, after they eliminated rent control. If you suddenly have the ability to get an appropriate rent for a renovated unit, you’re more likely to renovate it. Some of this crappy housing stock is going to be a nightmare if we have the big one.

  25. Posted by wheelchairgirl

    I just knew this was gonna be trouble. The minute some well-meaning Supes said I couldn’t be evicted, I just knew I’d never be able to rent in this town again, because landlords would take one look at my wheelchair and find a reason to rent to anybody else.
    Folks, it’s easy to determine disability under Federal law: just ask Social Security. They’ve got this thing called “substantial gainful employment” which they want to know if you can do or not – in other words, if you’re too sick or crippled to work. If this smartass is still working full-time, and going to the gym besides, he’s able to maintain “gainful employment”.
    Any one of us could be hit by a MUNI bus tomorrow and become disabled. And HIV might even be cured (probably a lot sooner than I will be). Potential disability is too big a minefield for any sensible judge to buy, or every diabetic, smoker, cancer-gene carrier and so on will go claiming that they’re potential cripples.
    Now for some rebuttals:
    lol: some of us stay here because we can’t afford to move, and others stay here because we need the resources of a city. I can’t drive; I need public transit. I need a good hospital in bus distance. Moving to the suburbs would not be cost-effective or smart.
    And trust me, this wheelchair is not a $#@! “lifestyle choice”.
    Not that I *can* afford to live here if I didn’t have a sugar daddy; Social Security disability pays me less than Federal poverty wages. There’s a reason most of us cripples live in SROs in the ‘Loin or Sixth St ghettos, hoping that someday section 8 might build some accessible housing.
    sfrenegade: There’s no affordable, available, wheelchair-accessible housing to move those tenants *to*. (Not that all cripples need wheelchair access, but most of us don’t like stairs.) Rent control stops about the same time as CA law demands wheelchair access. All that old housing stock? Stairs and narrow doors and utterly useless to folks like me.
    Landlords on those crappy old places also know they can’t afford ADA renovations to their firetraps, so they whine for an exemption. Encourage investment? There are *loans* available for nice cheap landlord investment in making properties more accessible, and they still don’t do it. Landlords want nothing to do with the ADA if they can possibly dodge it.

  26. Posted by lol

    Wheelchairgirl, let me expand my comment.
    SF is not the only city with government services and walkable shopping. There are thousands of really nice small cities, even in California or Oregon, where you probably can get a decent life with a disability. Of course they do not offer the attraction and diversity of SF. But the bright side is that in a smaller city you would get less impersonal treatment from the administration, plus you wouldn’t have to rub elbows with the broken vets and crazy stoners who live in the Tenderloin. Food, transportation, housing would be cheaper and an SS check would last longer. The payment doesn’t depend on location, right?
    Then again, you’ll probably ask me who I am to tell you what you do. And you’d be right. It’s a personal choice.

  27. Posted by anonee

    “Landlords on those crappy old places also know they can’t afford ADA renovations to their firetraps, so they whine for an exemption.”
    let me get this straight-if your old victorian is built above a garage and has stairs to go up to the front door what would you have landlords do?
    does every building need to be ada compliant in your view?

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