Sunday, March 20, 2016

San Francisco Landlord Invokes State Law In Mass Eviction Campaign To Remove All Tenants Out Of Their Rent Control-Protected Apartments In 84-Unit Building; Some Call Effort Largest Ellis Act Boot In City History

In San Francisco, California, the San Francisco Examiner reports:
  • A group of artists and musicians living in an 84-unit building on Market Street are going toe-to-toe with their landlord after being handed notices of what they say is the largest Ellis Act eviction in San Francisco history(1) for their live-work units late last month.

    The tenants gathered in front of their 1049 Market St. building on Tuesday with the support of local housing rights organizations, saying they refuse to leave without a fight. Some of the tenants said they have lived in the seven-floor building for more than a decade.

    Tenants at 1049 Market St. were handed the eviction notices Feb. 23, according to Steve Collier, an attorney who has worked for the for the Tenderloin Housing Clinic(2) for 28 years. The Ellis Act allows landlords to evict tenants if they decide to take the property off the rental market.

    The eviction comes in the midst of a citywide housing crisis and after a three-year tug-of-war between the tenants and the landlord in what residents call an effort to convert the residential units into office spaces.

    Legal counsel representing the building’s landlord, John Gall, however, maintained in a statement to the San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday that the building has always been commercially zoned, making it “improper” for the tenants to continue living there.

    This is really a blow to The City’s efforts in maintaining rent-controlled housing,” Tommi Avicolli Mecca, an organizer with the Housing Rights Committee, said of the Ellis Act eviction notices. “We are looking at the heart of San Francisco and the heart of San Francisco is being pushed out. They have no place to go.”
For more, see Residents protest Ellis Act evictions of mid-Market building.
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(1) The Ellis Act is a California which state law says that landlords have the unconditional right to evict tenants to “go out of business.” For an Ellis eviction, the landlord must remove all of the units in the building from the rental market, i.e., the landlord must evict all the tenants and cannot single out one tenant (for example, with low rent) and/or remove just one unit out of several from the rental market. Ellis Act evictions generally are used to change the use of the building.

(2) The Tenderloin Housing Clinic operates San Francisco's largest permanent housing program for single homeless adults and is a leading provider of legal services to low-income tenants with over 250 full time employees.

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