San Francisco agency agrees to legalize mid-Maket units slated for eviction

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Moving can be a huge, stressful, harrowing ordeal. But now, some 300 tenants living at 1049 and 1067 Market Street might be spared from having to relocate thanks to organized resistance from tenants’ rights activists and the intervention of local elected officials to halt an eviction from going forward.

It's the second major grassroots victory this week.

Building code violations made the housing units at those properties technically illegal, and the tenants were served with 60-day eviction notices last month. The property owner, John Gall, had taken out permits to convert some of the units into office space.

In response, tenant activists with the Housing Rights Committee and the Tenderloin Housing Clinic came to the tenants’ assistance and started a drumbeat on the pending mass eviction, which would have amounted to the largest since the I-Hotel in the 1970s. "We've worked really hard to get the city to do something aggressive," housing activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca told the Guardian.

Before long, District 6 Sup. Jane Kim took up the cause. On Oct. 10, Kim phoned the Guardian to relate a surprising development.

Yesterday, the Department of Building Inspection “called and let us know they have found a pathway to legalization” for the units, Kim said. As long as some safety upgrades are made, DBI has agreed to exercise its discretion and waive code requirements that would necessitate renovations that aren’t feasible.

Once she got word that DBI would legalize the units, Kim phoned the property owner. “I did ask him to withdraw the notices of eviction,” she said. So far, Gall has made no guarantees that he would do so, but Kim said he’d agreed to “work toward a resolution over the next two weeks.” She said her office met with about 60 affected tenants on Oct. 9.

Kim said Mayor Ed Lee’s office also reached out to Gall to ask him to withdraw the notices of eviction.

“The ideal case scenario is to keep as many tenants in place as possible,” Kim said. “It could have really caused a lot of instability.”

The threat of that mass eviction would have impacted primarily students and artists living a stone’s throw from Twitter’s new mid-Market headquarters.

Two years ago, Mayor Ed Lee and other policymakers created a payroll tax break as an incentive to attract flourishing tech companies into the mid-Market area, a neighborhood that for years was marked by blight and some of the highest concentration of poverty citywide. As the Guardian recently reported, the corporate welfare stemming from these policies has soared, while the influx of tech startups and venture capital firms is transforming the neighborhood.

But the rising demand for commercial office space has brought the consequence of evictions, affecting not only residents but nonprofit organizations.

An important hearing was held at the Budget and Finance Committee yesterday about rising rents placing unbearable pressure on nonprofit organizations, many of which are located in mid-Market. Some cannot possibly run their operations anywhere else and continue to serve their clientele. Arts organizations are facing similar challenges affording rent in the increasingly pricey area.

“It’s turning from blighted to the hottest real-estate in town … and the unintended consequences are that people are being evicted from their homes and nonprofits are being evicted,” said Brad Erickson, executive director of Theatre Bay Area, who attended yesterday’s hearing. “It’s more than anybody can keep up with.”

He said Kim had been receptive to community concerns. Other supervisors have sought to address the issue too. At Tuesday’s Board meeting, Sup. David Campos noted, “Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco have reached a crisis level. I want to talk about a couple of things that we are doing to respond to the crisis.” 

He said the Budget and Legislative Analyst would soon be issuing a report at his behest outlining the cumulative impact of Ellis Act evictions. He also noted that he’d been working with tenants’ rights advocates to design a way for the San Francisco Rent Board to better investigate tenant complaints alleging harassment by landlords. Campos also alluded to legislation that was in the works to address widespread real-estate speculation. “Unless we deal with speculation,” Campos said, “this crisis is not going to end.”

But in the case of 1049 and 1067 Market Street, at least, the tenants may soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief.  “We’re hoping that this is a glimmer of good news,” Kim said.

Comments

It is a day for celebrating victories :)

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

"Once she got word that DBI would legalize the units, Kim phoned the property owner. “I did ask him to withdraw the notices of eviction,” she said. So far, Gall has made no guarantees that he would do so, but Kim said he’d agreed to “work toward a resolution over the next two weeks.”

Some victory. It doesn't sound to me as if the owner is going to withdraw the eviction notices - but you take your "victories" where you can, I guess...

Posted by LOL barrier! on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

Less than 110 per year in a city of over 800,000 people, which works out to .00013 per person, is not a "crisis" by any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

Those are Ellis BUILDING numbers you are using, not accounting for how many units are in the building. Since 1997, 3,684 UNITS have been Ellised. 8,287 people have been evicted for Owner Move Ins. (There was a wave of fraudulent move ins before the law changed). There were also loads of Demos during dotcom 1.0. Officially 13,266 people have been evicted through no fault of their own since 1997. This does not even count buyouts and self-evicting that does not show up on the official record.

There actually only approx 170,000 rent controlled units in the city. There over 200,000 non rent controlled housing options in the city. How about you leave us the 170,000 and fight amongst yourselves flipping the crap out of the rest? Must you take everything? Who will make your latte when there is nowhere for us serfs to live?

Posted by Sigmarlin on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

Sounds like everybody involved can get what they need out of this.

Posted by Rocket on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

tenants that he doesn't want?

Everybody = you on your planet?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:36 am

While the politicians are finding mileage with this one, the reality is the owner still not only has the last word, but it looks like some kind of understanding is in place that if he makes the safety improvements - mostly related to utilities - the building will no longer be under rent control.

Defeats the purpose, no?

What's really going on here?! There is something that doesn't feel right.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

sure the units could be brought up to code with enough work, expense and effort. But why would the owner agree to spend all that money when he doesn't want the tenants there anyway? It's like he is being made to pay to achieve a result that he doesn't want.

It would be OK if these were legal units and DBI said they have to be brought up to code. But they are illegal units, and an owner of a building cannot be compelled to make illegal units into legal units. He can only be mandated to close down those untis, which is exactly why an eviction is allowed for illegal units.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:39 am

I find it sad that so many here seem to think one owner has total personal rights, yet 60 tenants have none.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:00 am

If the units are illegal, then they are illegal. And, it has nothing to do with either the rights of the tenants or the landlord.

The city is simply saying it may selectively enforce the law should the owner agree to fix the violations. However, the owner is under no obligation to do so if he no longer wants to continue renting the units, which are illegal in the first place. And while I do feel sad for the tenants, you can't have rights in something that is unlawful.

What should happen is that the city should ease density and height restrictions, where appropriate (and to varying degrees this is appropriate in most parts of the city), and encourage the construction of more housing, including more affordable housing--through subsidies, etc., rather than trying to turn a blind eye to illegal and decrepit housing.

Posted by Chris on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 11:31 am

in their home, surely the over-riding factor is that these units have significant flaws (lack of light, ventilation etc.). There are good reasons why such structures are not allowed for residential use, and it is ridiculous to waive that requirement but ONLY if and when the landlords tries to evict.

Maybe the owner should have evicted them one at a time and then there wouldn't have been such outrage about him simply following the law.

But yes, the city should ask the voters for the money to build appropriate housing if that is the real aim. Ignoring blatant building problems just because someone is illegally sleeping there seems like a very nasty precedent.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 11:59 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

Of course, without the facts, it all sounds so easy.

One of these buildings has been in violation of several codes for over eight years. First, how does that happen, particularly when the building changed hands somewhere in between then and now?

The window issue is a big one, but they don't have to make real windows, just natural light would need to reach each unit. Given these are work-live lofts, that's apparently a grey area the City can play with.

The owners are well aware of what needs to be done, and have been since the purchase. What's further disturbing is how - with some apparent complicity - the City let this ride, giving this owner enough momentum to get as far as he has. His goal is simple: use the eviction to clean out the building and turn it into commercial space to take advantage of the current boom in that neighborhood.

While owning a building is a business, and the goal is always to make money, there are real limits - business and human - to what is even ultimately good for profits. And they are always tied together. He stepped over that line by consciously not fixing the basic requirements for quiet enjoyment - an erratic water heater in violation since 2005, external doors that don't close, elevator floor keys that don't work, lights out for - literally - years, a fire alarm that doesn't work, an entire electrical system in violation, etc.

All these things in aggregate, and the City's knowledge of all of this...stink. His goal from day-one was to boot the current tenants and turn the property.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

this is simply a barricade against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by rd lunge on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

that type of building. I'm comfortable with the owner's actions here.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

one of the problems was the lack of windows in rooms being used as bedrooms. i wonder how they are going to address that? i doubt that they will legalize those scenarios as egress in the event of a fire is a pretty non-flexible building code issue.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

no windows as a bedroom, period. And to put windows in a building like that would be very costly. Either the owner refuses to do it or he does it and then gets a passthru of the cost of that work, which means that the tenants can probably no longer afford to live there anyway.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:40 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

It's natural light. Most windows in modern buildings do not open. They are not for egress.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

There has to be something even if you cannot see through it.

Only for bedrooms though.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

the costs of all the mediation work. This appears necessary because the owner cannot be compelled to spend money on something that is essentially illegal.

The owner may still not go with it, of course, and I suspect that a judge would approve the evictions anyway on the grounds presented, because they are legally valid.

If the city wants the owner to play ball, they should offer payment and compensation.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:17 am

Think what messages this sends out:

1) I can sublet uninhabitable, windowless, badly-ventilated space to poor families and the DBI will give me a pass.

2) More Ellis Act evictions if an owner cannot even evict when a tenancy is totally illegal

3) Rising property values with uninhabitable space, as DBI has effectively just given them a boost in value.

4) Lower standards at DBI as they are increasingly told to turn a blind eyes to dangerous and unhealthy living conditions.

Meanwhile this owner's UD will continue and it is not at all clear that a Judge will throw it out just because someone at DBI capitulated to pressure. And even if it is bounced, the owner can just Ellis.

I think your gloating here is not thought through.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:22 am

5) ConservaTrolls are forced to desperately reinterpret these events in a way that doesn't prove them to be isolated bitter assholes completely out of step with the rest of the community.

Gotta love watching the gloatingest fucks on the internet suddenly get cautious when events turn against their preconceived bullshit worldview and smug expectations.

Newsflash FuckTrolls:
That wet feeling you're experiencing is Ed Lee pissing in your face. His bladder just emptied at the thought of his legacy as the Mayor who presided over the evictions of 300 people at once, or the champion of throwing 80 year old chinese couples into the street. It looks like interesting times ahead for bitter loser fucks who worship the rich and revel in the misery of the less fortunate.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

It's just a game, dude.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

Maybe it just hit a little to close to home for you.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

far from light-hearted about the world.

But then it is rare to find humor with progressives because they take everything so seriously, including themselves.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

I'm pretty sure that was funny, just not for you. Keep up the good fight, though. Someone has to stop these darn progressives!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

Thank you for your concern but I have a great sense of humor. After all, I visit here, so how could I not have?

Posted by Guesty on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

You know what we need? A song!
You know- to describe our noble battle against these dang progressives. Something with some whistling maybe, then some soul stirring shouting words about how the battle rages on... But us? Do we waver even one bit? Hell no! We'll never give up until every last pergressive is forked outta their little holes and there's nothing left in San Francisco except people like us. The sorts of people that think the right way and know what's best for the less fortunate- leaving them to die of course. Because Hey! We got ours, buddy. Worked hard, invested smart, pulled ourselves up by our own penis straps. So anyway, let's get cracking on that darn song and celebrate our efforts a little over a cup of joe or something. See you in the internet trenches, fellow brave warrior for all that is right and good about America and Freedom and Shopping!

Posted by Guesty on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

voters, I do not think that we need your "war on progressives". They will simply commit suicide or die off.

Posted by anon on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

Now all I have to do is find a way to get 300 tenants into our studio that had been sign off as legal but is now illegal. I feel better already

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

that we have effectively gutted the building code.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

I looked into these spaces about 7 years ago, they were cool little mini-lofts for cheap, and an innovative use of the building.

Glad I didn't rent one.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

The landlord can always evict you simply by "admitting" to DBI the unit was illegal. There is no penalty for renting out an illegal unit, and you are given a free eviction.

The other problem, obviously, is that you are living in sub-standard housing but you certainly will not be paying a sub-standard rent.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

Our fingers are crossed that the owner decides to keep the units as live work loft residential units so we can all stay.

There is at least one unstable tenant though that angrily lashes out, who has been paying this low rent (and should be happy) but instead wants to try to send the owner to jail which is very unlikely. This tenant _knew the deal_ when he rented - he knew the unit limitations so his reason for being upset now is irrational.

But his destructive behavior could poison the well for all.

Posted by 1067 Market Tenant on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

any building, and he can be a convenient lever to oust the rest.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

Excellente.

But really, these sour, whining trolls on here, please do SOMETHING. What pathetic lives you must live. Please seek professional help. Take lots of meds.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

view to yours then they must be insane and need therapy and medication?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

You're talking to one of your own conservative, free market troll friends there.
But don't let that slow you down...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 4:21 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

They are beautifully renovated efficiency units, more than half have large windows, the rest have ventilation from outside. They are perfectly good, safe and clean living spaces. Jane Kim and Housing Rights Committee have done a great job.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 11:09 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

when he bought that building

and may very well have planned this whole enforcement fiasco in order to flip the building for a profit

this kind of insidious crap happens all the time in real estate

Posted by racer on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

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