April 1, 2008
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF
THE SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENTIAL RENT
STABILIZATION & ARBITRATION BOARD,
Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. at
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70, Lower Level
I. Call to Order
President Gruber called the meeting to order at 6:05 p.m.
II. Roll Call
Commissioners Present: Beard; Gruber; Henderson; Hurley; Mosbrucker; Mosser.
Commissioners not Present: Justman; Murphy.
Staff Present: Lee; Wolf.
Commissioner Marshall appeared on the record at 6:15 p.m.; Commissioner Mosser went off the record at 6:30 p.m.
III. Approval of the Minutes
MSC: To approve the Minutes of March 4, 2008.
IV. Remarks from the Public
A. Master Tenant Raisa Akinshin of 1201 – 8th Ave. #3 (AL080014) told the Board that the Decision presents her with a financial hardship, and submitted a Hardship Application. She said that the subtenant has a lot of complaints, which is very stressful to her. Ms. Akinshin explained that there is a written agreement that provides that the tenancy can be terminated for any reason, but the subtenant doesn't want to leave.
V. Consideration of Appeals
A. 1201 – 8th Ave. #3 AL080014
The Master Tenant's appeal was filed one day late because the tenant miscalculated her filing deadline by not counting Presidents' Day.
MSC: To find good cause for the late filing of the appeal. (Henderson/Mosbrucker: 5-0)
The subtenant's petition alleging that she paid a disproportional share of the rent pursuant to Rules ß6.15C(3) was granted and the Master Tenant was found liable to the subtenant in the amount of $1,750.00. The Master Tenant appeals, asserting that: the decision presents her with a financial hardship; the rent for the subtenant's room was the market value of rooms in that neighborhood; the Master Tenant provided additional housing services to the subtenant; and the subtenant refuses to vacate the unit.
MSC: To accept the appeal and remand the case for a hearing on the Master Tenant's claim of financial hardship only; to deny the appeal as to all other issues. (Henderson/Hurley: 4-1; Mosbrucker dissenting)
B. 343 Clipper St. AT080012
The tenant's petition alleging an unlawful rent increase was dismissed because of the tenant's failure to appear at the continued hearing. On appeal, the tenant explains that: he did not receive notice of the continued hearing; and, since there was no record of a Certificate of Occupancy having been issued for the unit, he assumed that his petition would be upheld without the need for further hearing.
MSC: To accept the appeal and remand the case for a supplemental hearing. Should the tenant again fail to appear, absent extraordinary circumstances, no further hearings will be scheduled. (Henderson/Marshall: 5-0)
C. 2070 Pacific Ave. #501 AT080016
The tenant's appeal was filed nine months late because the tenant failed to realize that a utility passthrough had been granted until she received her notice of annual rent increase.
MSC: To find good cause for the late filing of the appeal. (Henderson/Marshall: 4-1; Gruber dissenting)
The landlord's petition for utility passthroughs for 8 of 29 units was granted. One tenant appeals the decision on the grounds of financial hardship.
MSC: To accept the appeal and remand the case for a hearing on the tenant's claim of financial hardship. (Henderson/Marshall: 5-0)
D. 1330 So. Van Ness AT080009 & AL080010
The subtenants' petition alleging that they paid a disproportional share of the rent pursuant to Rules ß6.15C(3) was granted and the Master Tenant was found liable to the subtenants in the amount of $3,878.00. Additionally, decreased housing services claims were granted, in part, and the Master Tenant was found liable in the amount of $677.50 due to habitability defects on the premises. On appeal, the Master Tenant claims that: there are factual errors in the Decision; there is now only one Master Tenant residing at the premises; the problem with the heat will be rectified; the problem with inadequate electricity has been cured, and resulted, in part, from the hazardous activities of the subtenants; and the Decision presents her with a financial hardship. The subtenants also appeal on the grounds that: there are factual errors in the Decision; they should not be responsible for rectifying conditions that pre-dated their tenancy; a letter from a witness who was not present at the hearing should not have been entered into evidence; their original rent included utilities; the rent reduction amounts granted are inadequate; and DBI has issued a citation for inadequate hot water pressure.
MSC: To deny the appeals except to remand the case to the Administrative Law Judge for a hearing on the Master Tenant's claim of financial hardship. The other Master Tenant must also provide a completed Hardship Application to the Board and the subtenants no later than one week prior to the scheduled remand hearing. (Marshall/Henderson: 5-0)
E. 757 Green St., 2D AL080011
The tenant's petition alleging decreased housing services due to the temporary loss of use of the laundry room in the building was granted and the landlord was found liable to the tenant in the amount of $821.25. The landlord appeals the Decision, arguing that: the tenant's testimony regarding her alleged disability was not credible; the short walk to the adjoining building did not constitute a hardship to the tenant; the difference between the two laundry rooms was not substantial; the Findings of Fact are inadequate to justify the Conclusions; and the condition does not rise to the level of a substantial reduction in housing services.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Marshall/Henderson: 4-1;
F. 520 Geary #103 AL080013
The tenant's petition alleging decreased housing services was granted, in part, and the landlord was found liable to the tenant in the amount of $1,890.25. On appeal, the landlord maintains that: the tenant failed to prove that it was too hot in her unit, this condition was not cited by DBI, and the landlord took steps to mitigate the problem; the loss of closet space after the installation of fire sprinklers was not substantial; two scratches in a new linoleum floor do not constitute a substantial decrease in housing services; and a new stove that is slightly smaller than the replaced appliance does not warrant a rent reduction.
MSF: To deny the appeal. (Marshall/Henderson: 2-3; Gruber, Hurley, Beard dissenting)
MSC: To accept the appeal and remand the case to the Administrative Law Judge to reverse the decision only as to the issue of the linoleum floor and find that the condition does not constitute a substantial decrease in housing services. (Beard/Hurley: 4-1; Gruber dissenting)
G. 520 So. Van Ness #385 AT080017
The tenant's petition alleging a substantial decrease in housing services because of the alleged exclusion of the tenant's nephew from the residential hotel was denied because the Administrative Law Judge found that the tenant failed to prove that hotel management had violated the terms of the Uniform Hotel Visitor Policy. On appeal, the tenant claims that: she was not given a copy of her rental agreement, so she could not provide it to the ALJ; her nephew was not "86'ed" from the hotel; and the landlord's representative lied at the hearing.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Beard/Gruber: 5-0)
H. 2136 Broderick AT080015
The tenant's petition alleging the presence of toxic fumes in her unit and an unlawful contract for storage space was denied because the ALJ found that the tenant had failed to meet her burden of proof. The tenant appeals, claiming that: the ALJ did not apply the proper legal standard in evaluating the tenant's evidence; the Dept. of Public Health and Dept. of Building Inspection do not have jurisdiction over claims such as the tenant's; the ALJ ignored statements from other tenants in the building that validated the tenant's complaints; the terms "under some circumstances" and "substantial" are not defined in the Rent Ordinance, to the detriment of the tenant; and she has met her burden by a preponderance of the evidence.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Hurley/Gruber: 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 February 2008.
B. The Department's Annual Report on Eviction Notices.
C. Several articles from the Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, and BeyondChron.
D. The decision in the case of Chacon v. Litke (Superior Court Case No. CGC-05-448337).
E. A letter from an attorney at the firm of Crow and Rose, requesting that the Board consider amending Rules ß12.14(d) to clarify that income is not a factor in determining whether a tenant is disabled within the meaning of Ordinance ß37.9(i)(1)B)(i). This issue will be put on the Agenda for the next meeting.
VII. Director's Report
Executive Director Wolf informed the Board that, in light of the City's projected budget deficit, the Mayor's Office has instructed all departments to submit a proposed on-going 8% reduction in salaries for the '08-'09 departmental budget.
IV. Remarks from the Public (cont.)
B. Tenant Elizabeth Carol Harvey of 2136 Broderick (AT080015) told the Board that she submitted Declarations from two other tenants verifying the presence of toxic fumes in the building, as well as a letter from her physician. She acknowledged the difficulty of establishing a causal connection between toxins and their effects on people. Ms. Harvey said that she doesn't want monetary reimbursement but, rather, an incentive for the building's management to do something. She asked that the Board reverse their decision, because she is living with a "highly dangerous situation that is difficult to prove."
VIII. Calendar Items
April 8th & 15th, 2008 - NO MEETINGS
April 22, 2008
7 appeal considerations
New Business: Disability Determinations
President Gruber adjourned the meeting at 7:15 p.m.