As I write this message on May 19th, we have just learned that Governor Newsom is proposing reimbursement for 100% of lost rent during this horrible pandemic year. This is promising news, absolutely. Of course, we will need to know more about those pesky details. Who must apply, what proof of ownership or loss will we be required to present, how will the funds be distributed? And, here’s a big one: what about reimbursement to owners whose renters vacated the rentals early in the pandemic?

For a couple of months, some money has been available for relief to owners/renters, particularly if both parties were willing to cooperate. On our weekly statewide call, our colleagues in San Diego and Los Angeles, plus smaller cities, mentioned that some of their members had used the web portals developed for their counties and received some funds. This conversation came to a sudden halt when we — our Vice President Howard Epstein, our Executive Director Peter Reitz, and I — told the group that San Francisco had not yet established a method for owners and renters to apply for funds. What are they doing down in that golden-domed palace, our City Hall? We sincerely hope that procedures are in place by the time you read this. If the forms are too daunting, especially due to language difficulties, let us know. If you are able to help others by explaining procedures, do let us know — we’re a volunteer-driven organization.

 

Forcing Owners to go All Electric?

We often wonder if our supervisors have any knowledge of the costs of owning rental property. Their discussion of ending dependence on natural gas turned to residential customers. In addition to banning natural gas in newly-constructed buildings, they discussed forcing owners to retrofit existing homes to become all electric. What? Do they have any idea what this would cost? Some do, and a couple even spoke up, but they voted to continue the discussion. There is a lot more involved than getting a new stove. For our older homes, we must also bring in additional capacity from the street. For my own two-unit residence, the bill, about ten years ago, was $26,000 to bring our building up to reasonably current standards, including 220-volt service in both kitchens.

This did not include any new appliances, of course. The big unanswered question remains: What happens when the electricity goes out? Fortunately, they have backed away a bit from forced retrofits, but haven’t figured out how we will weather an extended power outage.

We are very optimistic about the improved statistics for COVID-19 infections, and hope everyone will get vaccinated now that it is so simple to do. We’re looking forward to holding live meetings again, probably in September after our usual August break. Stay well; we’ll save a seat for you at our meeting room in St. Mary’s Cathedral.

 

Reprinted with permission of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI) News.  For more information on becoming a member of SPOSFI or to send a tax-deductible donation, please visit their website at www.smallprop.org or call (415) 647-2419.