Out of place - Page 6

Evictions are driving long-time renters out of their homes -- and out of SF. Here are the stories of several people being evicted


By Rebecca Bowe

Hester Michael is a fashion designer, and her home doubles as a project space for creating patterns, sewing custom clothing, weaving cloth, and painting. She's lived in her Outer Sunset two-bedroom unit for almost two decades, but now she faces an Ellis Act eviction. Michael says she initially received notice last June. The timing was awful -– that same month, her husband passed away after a long battle with terminal illness.

"I've been here 25 years. My friends are here, and my business. I don't know where else to go, or what else to do," she says. "I just couldn't picture myself anywhere else."

Michael rents the upstairs unit of a split single-family home, a kind of residence that normally isn't protected by rent control. Yet she leased the property in 1994, getting in under the wire before that exemption took effect. Since she pays below-market-rate rent in a home that could be sold vacant for top dollar, a target was essentially inscribed on her back when the property changed hands in 2004. That's about when her long battle with the landlords began, she says.

From the get-go, her landlords indicated that she should look for a new place, Michael says, yet she chose to remain. The years that followed brought things falling into disrepair, she says, and a string of events that caused her feel intimidated and to fear eviction. Finally, she consulted with tenant advocates and hired an attorney. A complaint filed in superior court alleges that the property owners "harassed and retaliated [Michael] when she complained about the defective and dangerous conditions ...telling [her] to move out of the property if she did not like the dangerous conditions thereat ... repeatedly making improper entries into [the] property, and wrongfully accusing [her] of causing problems."

Records show that Angela Ng serves as attorney in fact for the property owner, Ringo Chung Wai Lee. Steven Adair MacDonald, an attorney who represents both landlords and tenants in San Francisco housing disputes, represents the owners. "An owner of a single family home where the rent is controlled and a fraction of market has virtually no other choice but to terminate the tenancy," MacDonald said when the Guardian reached him by phone. "They've got to empty it, and the only way to empty it is the Ellis Act."

While Michael received an extension that allows her to remain until June 5, she fears her custom sewing business, Hester's Designs, will suffer if she has to move. There's the issue of space. "I have so much stuff in this house," she says. And most of her clients are currently located close by, so she doesn't know where her business would come from if she had to relocate. "A lot of my clients don't have cars," she says, "so if I live in some suburb in the East Bay, forget it. I'll lose my business."

The prospect of eviction has created a major dilemma for Michael, who first moved to San Francisco in 1987. While moving to the East Bay seems untenable, she says renting in San Francisco feels out of reach. "People are renting out small, tiny bedrooms for the same price as I pay here," she says. With a wry laugh, she adds: "I don't think there's any vacant apartments in San Francisco -– unless you're a tech dude and make seven grand a month."


The Housing Trust Fund, passed in November, raised the Downpayment Assistance Loan Program to $100K.


Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 9:17 am

The bulk of the HTF will end up thrown down the twin rat holes of nonprofit developer operating costs and the SFHA.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 9:43 am

Potential homebuyers of low/moderate income must take advantage of the assistance program before the money goes down the rat hole.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 10:20 am

The Prop C Housing Trust Fund money will help drive up housing prices at the lower housing price levels, which will trickle up to the higher priced housing units. This will lead to even more expensive housing for all new homeowners of more modest means. What a wonderful city program!

Figure the annual $5 million of downpayment assistance (DPA) will leverage another $25-50 million of mortgage loans used to buy houses from the exisiting SF housing stock. That's about 50 to 100 housing units that will be bought under the DPA program each year, targeting even more unmet demand for the city's currently most affordable ownership housing.

The DPA buyers willl be competing with all of the hundreds of other hopeful first-time homeowners (who are not using DPA money), also trying desparately to buy into the SF housing market, leading to even higher housing prices. There will be bidding wars galore as the two groups fight one another to buy the few dozen lower priced homes that come onto the market each month.

I love how Mayor Lee and the "progressive board" funded this program in Prop C so that the lower priced SF homes become a pitched battleground between favored city-financed DPA buyers verses the poor fools who saved their money for a downpayment hoping to buy a modest home in SF. The SF real estate wars will get goosed even more, and the politicians and real esate agents will be laughing at the middle income homebuyers fighting amongst themselves for the privilege of buying a $650,000 fixer-upper. How fun!

To implement a DPA program in a place where real estate is already white-hot is beyond bad and stupid policy; it's an all out attack on every family of modest means trying to buy a modest priced home (that barely exist in SF anyway). In places like Detroit or other cities losing population, where there are far more homes available than buyers, a DPA program might have some merit. But in a place like SF or the Bay Area, where housing demand far outstrips supply, DPA is a perverted and cynical program that attacks modest income people currently fighting to buy a roof over their head.

When housing prices drop 20% - which they will similar to the aftermath of every real estate boom cycle - the DPA homeowners will walk away from the home and the loan, leaving the city holding the worthless paper, just like what happened five years ago. Some enterprising journalist should research the DPA loans given out in the 1980's through 2007. I think they'll find that some DPA home buyers made hundreds of thousands of dollars when they sold their city-financed property at the top of the market, while other DPA homeowners cost the city millions of dollars when the market turned south.

The DPA program is just another piece of evidence the government hates middle-income homebuyers, along with hating the taxpayers funding this idiotic do-nothing program. It would be nice to see what organizations and people are behind DPA, getting fees and jobs to implement this cynical, hateful program. I suspect some of them consider themselves progressives, when instead they are helping to create an even more hellish entry-level housing market for hopeful homeowners of modest means.

Instead of funding this do-nothing DPA program the city should work with groups like Habitat for Humanity, organizations that know how to BUILD ownership housing for 1st-time homebuyers. These programs build new affordable equity housing, while fully preserving the housing units for future generations with permanent deed restrictions, yet still allow 1st-time homewners a path for building equity for a future non-subsidized housing purchase.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 9:26 am

Why should the city be responsible for making anyone an owner? They cannot even keep the streets clean of feces and urine….

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 11:43 am

Thank you for giving a voice to some of the negative effects of the recent tech boom to San Francisco.
It has also had a devastating effect on small businesses that don't have the benefit of rent control. Many office buildings downtown that are owned by out-of-state real estate companies are opting on renting out floors or entire buildings to large tech corporations. To make way for these tech giants, entire floors and sometimes buildings of small offices are getting evicted. Many small businesses cannot survive this upheaval and the ones that can have to seriously consider whether or not they can afford to stay in San Francisco.
This has had a dramatic effect on many historic industries in the downtown San Francisco market and will forever change the local economy.
My heart goes out to tenants that are fighting not only for their own survival, but also for the survival of a vibrant civic identity.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

But that doesn't mean it's wrong. We need these new businesses and, naturally, their success drives up rents.

you seem to think that SF exists purely for the purpose of people who lacks education or skills, but think they would like to live in SF anyway because it is "cool".

Well, I'm not in the business of enabling the inadequate. And until we have replaced capitalism with socialism, then some displacement is not only necessary but also desirable.

Posted by anon on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

It is a biological process.

You refer to the discredited theory of Social Darwinism, precursors to such hideous things, like eugenics and nazism.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

It describes the tendency in any closed system for the best to rise and grow, and for the worst to be mired forever in a primal swamp.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 8:27 am

for words because your arguments are false and your ideology detached from reality.

You are describing Social Darwinism, a false science used to justify atrocities.


Posted by Eddie on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 8:38 am

Capitalism is predicated on darwinism.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 9:04 am

'Nazi Germany's justification for its aggression was regularly promoted in Nazi propaganda films depicting scenes such as beetles fighting in a lab setting to demonstrate the principles of "survival of the fittest" as depicted in Alles Leben ist Kampf (English translation: All Life is Struggle).'

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 1:06 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

One major cultural reason why the theory of natural selection as promulgated by Darwin was so difficult to accept is precisely that its brutal, unforgiving violence did not square with civilization and the kind of life that most folks desired.

Most people want to live in a Star Trek world, not a Mad Max world.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

hard to see how such an allegory for rampant colonialism would be on any "progressive" agenda.

Natural selection ensures our survivial, despite the attempts by overweaning governments to set us back.

In fact, Ellis'ing a building and replacement it's loser inmates with successful professionals is classic natural selection at work. And explains our high standard of living.

Investing in losers and punishing winners is not the path to prosperity - only mediocrity.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

The human species is not at risk of extinction due to lack of social darwinism, rather due to short sighted greed where we are all compelled to invest in losers who are sucking our world dry for their gain.

Environmental degradation is what is tempting natural selection to come down with a bolt of punctuated equilibrium, troll, not compassion.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

with social relations based on private ownership of property and the exploitation of labor by capital.

There is nothing natural about eviction.

Mediocre loser troll.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

That sound you hear is anon madly flipping through the pages of "Atlas Shrugged" for guidance.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

people are animals.

And people relocating is very natural. Everyone in this nation has either relocated themselves or descend from someone who relocated.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

I your world, we should eugenically ethanize the "mentally retarded" and send seniors off on ice floes once they are too much of a burden.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

various other programs. I would not wish a crappy rent-controlled apartment on my parents in a million years.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 8:28 am

Hypocrite troll.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 8:38 am

They may happen thru cuts, higher payroll taxes or higher retirement ages.

Or, most likely, all three.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 9:04 am

"It has become accepted economic wisdom that the only way to get control over America's looming budget deficits is to "reform entitlements."

"The accepted wisdom is wrong.

"Republicans trot out federal budget data showing a 32 percent increase in direct payments to individuals since the start of 2009 - including food stamps, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation and subsidized housing.

"But these expenditures are temporary. They've resulted from the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, which forced many families to turn to the government for help.

"What about Social Security and Medicare (along with Medicare's poor stepchild, Medicaid)?

"Social Security won't contribute to future budget deficits. By law, it can spend money only from the Social Security trust fund. That fund has been in surplus for the better part of two decades as Boomers paid into it during their working lives. Now that Boomers have begun to retire, those surpluses are disappearing.

"But this only means the trust fund will be collecting from the rest of the federal government the IOUs on the surpluses it lent to the rest of the government. This still leaves the trust fund with a shortage about two decades from now.

"Yet, the best way to deal with this isn't to raise the eligibility age for receiving Social Security benefits, as many entitlement reformers are urging.

"That would put an unfair burden on laboring people, most of whose bodies still begin wearing out when they reach their late 60s even though they live longer. And it's not to reduce cost-of-living adjustments for inflation, as even the White House seemed ready to propose in recent months.

"Social Security benefits are already meager for most recipients. The median income of Americans over 65 is less than $20,000 a year. Nearly 70 percent of them depend on Social Security for more than half of this.

"Besides, Social Security's current inflation adjustment understates the true impact of inflation on elderly recipients - who spend far more than anyone else on health care, the costs of which have been rising faster than overall inflation.

"That leaves two possibilities that "entitlement reformers" rarely, if ever, suggest but that are the only fair alternatives: raising the ceiling on income subject to Social Security taxes (in 2013, that ceiling is $113,700), and means-testing benefits so wealthy retirees receive less. Both should be considered."

~Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor and U.C. Berkeley Professor of Economics

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/reich/article/Entitlement-cuts-won-t-solve...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

that Reich is selling, and in fact even Obama has given up listening to that old washed-up socialist economist.

Entitlement reform is the only way to fix the deficit. The rest is just fiddling around at the margin.

It's entirely possible to live off Social Security but not if you expect to live in an expensive place like SF. That's why people typically move when they retire.

Except public sector retirees, of course, who can live like kings. For now, anyway.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

What about Paul Krugman or Joe Stiglitz? Would you choose *not* to believe a pair of Nobel-Prize winning economists, simply because they're liberals? Here's Krugman's analysis, followed by Stiglitz'~

"Social Security’s attackers claim that they’re concerned about the program’s financial future. But their math doesn’t add up, and their hostility isn’t really about dollars and cents. Instead, it’s about ideology and posturing. And underneath it all is ignorance of or indifference to the realities of life for many Americans.

"About that math: Legally, Social Security has its own, dedicated funding, via the payroll tax (“FICA” on your pay statement). But it’s also part of the broader federal budget. This dual accounting means that there are two ways Social Security could face financial problems. First, that dedicated funding could prove inadequate, forcing the program either to cut benefits or to turn to Congress for aid. Second, Social Security costs could prove unsupportable for the federal budget as a whole.

"But neither of these potential problems is a clear and present danger. Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century, banking those surpluses in a special account, the so-called trust fund. The program won’t have to turn to Congress for help or cut benefits until or unless the trust fund is exhausted, which the program’s actuaries don’t expect to happen until 2037 — and there’s a significant chance, according to their estimates, that that day will never come."


"In a recent USA Today opinion piece, Nobel Prize winning economist JOSEPH STIGLITZ took on Mitt Romney's accusations against the "47%" by saying the real freeloaders are not those who rely on some kind of government support like Social security, Medicare and financial aid. Instead, he says, the freeloaders are more likely the 1% of the wealthiest Americans who pay taxes at a far lower rate than those with less money and whose successes have been built on the services government provides like education, the legal system, infrastructure, etc. The growing income inequality in America is one of Stiglitz's greatest concerns and the subject of his new book The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future. In it he warns that if the divide between rich and poor continues to grow, even the richest Americans will pay a price and offers a plan for a more just and prosperous future."


Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

You even threw in social security and public sector retirees, hoping someone would take the bait. I only responded because I don't like misinformation about SS#, etc., that you're trying to float on progressive web sites.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

this was my response to anon's comment further down

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 3:13 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

You have no use for progressives, and yet you're everywhere on this site.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

If I bought a TIC anyone can do it. Have a little discipline. Save money and voila! Se Jo comprei mi Pie De Tierre ousted puede tambien.
Now I am on solid ground and that feels great! Homewonership is the way to go.
I love America. California and the city know in Chinese as the mountain of gold
Conshi fatsay!

Posted by save money on Feb. 09, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

finally get out of paying the mortgage for someone else.

Being a renter for life is very, very sad.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 8:26 am

Living on someone else's dime is the great San Francisco addiction…..

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 11:28 am

Oh, I quite agree. Living on "someone else's dime" is definitely a way of life under the Brown-Lee government. One of the greatest beneficiaries of this arrangment is Ron Conway, the investor who has made a veritable killing from feeding off the public dime. From Larry Bush at CitiReport~

Brown-Lee Partnership Spells Money, Also Trouble

“Corporations and people with close ties to the mayor have received hundreds of millions of dollars in city contracts, development deals, subsidies and grants, records show,” the paper reported.

“In deal after deal, bidders who are associates of the mayor — or who have retained Brown’s associates as lobbyists or consultants — have won out over others with less political clout, sometimes after intervention by the mayor or his aides.”

“During the FBI’s corruption investigation, court records show, agents made inquiries regarding contracts worth more than $1 billion and 63 different companies, people and other entities, many with connections to Brown.”[...]

Ed Lee: The Inside Man

"Ed Lee became Willie Brown’s Inside Man almost two decades ago, when Brown turned to him to approve minority contracts for his backers. Lee went on to hold positions where he could tweak the requirements for contractors, order “re-evaluations” where necessary, even reverse his staff and his own earlier findings on behalf of contractors tied to Brown.

"Some of those instances were reported during the 2011 mayoral campaign or were seized on by Lee’s opponents. They ranged from contracts awarded for computer services later determined to be fraudulent to contracts at the airport to a bidder that twice failed to get top ratings to a “nonprofit” that didn’t actually exist and that federal official ordered its grant returned to the city.

"By 2011, when Ed Lee became the Interim Mayor... [...]

"Faster than a high speed Internet connection, Willie Brown was showing up with a Silicon Valley “angel investor,” Ron Conway. By August, when Lee announced he would change his mind and run for a full term, Conway had launched an independent expenditure campaign that would raise more than $600,000. One of the speakers at a Conway fundraiser was Willie Brown.

"In turn, Conway became an advisor to Ed Lee, who told reporters that he was listening to Conway on how San Francisco could launch a new boom with tax incentives aimed at high tech industries.

"Lee urged approval of a special tax district on Market Street, encouraging Twitter to move its headquarters to mid-Market. To do that, the owner of the Market Square sold the building to Shorenstein Properties, a longtime Brown ally. Twitter got the tax break and moved into the building facilitated by Brown.

"Later the companies estimated their savings at more than $30 million.

"Lee, in a moment of irrational exuberance, then announced he would seek to replace the short-term tax holiday with a permanent one. The boom was on.

"Lee’s election night victory party was hosted by Willie Brown, according to the invite, but the man writing the checks was Ron Conway and the tech industry leaders he had brought on board. The evening included a replay of a video ad for Lee “2 Legit 2 Quit” that featured MC Hammer – and Willie Brown.

"It also was underwritten by Conway."


Posted by Progressives Against Big Government on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

candidates for election to an important office?

Wow, I'm shocked.

The topic, since you appear not to understand it, is whether the wave of Ellis Act currently happening is a direct and understandable inevitability from the city adopting too strict a version of rent control.

I've seen nothing in 8 pages of ranting and raving to indicate that it is not. I've personally emptied three buildings of tenants and, while only one was an Ellis, all three led to much better, nicer and more successful people living there. That is a good thing for the city.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

You are doing most of the ranting and raving. Boasting about emptying buildings of tenants--how sociopathic.

Let them eat cake.

Let's get ready to tumbril.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

SF is of exactly the same value and utility to the city?

That seems highly doubtful.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

No, I think certain people with a decided NAZI mentality have less than zero value or utility to the city, and should go. People like you, troll.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 3:19 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 3:28 pm


Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

You even threw in social security and public sector retirees, hoping someone would take the bait. I only responded because I don't like misinformation about SS#, etc., that you're trying to float on progressive web sites.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 3:01 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

Everyone's living on everyone else's dime, that's what social animals do.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

services and subsidies. Some do not. I believe the latter figure to be 47%

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

You call yourself a moderate? ha! The 47% thanks you for outing yourself. Bottom feeding troll.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

the same problem that always gets politicians into trouble - telling the truth.

Posted by anon on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

Romney was such a towering genius that he never figured out how he came up with that idea.


Posted by Daniel D. Portado on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

To all those who make 100k + live in San Francisco and think if you can't afford it move elsewhere,

Someone has to make your lattes, someone has to take care for your children, someone has to clean your house, someone has to serve your burritos, someone has to provide nursing when you're sick, someone has to work at your grocery store, your bookstore, your apple store. Someone has to drive your company paid shuttles. Someone has to dryclean your clothes. Someone has to make your whiskey cocktail.
And all of those people who contribute to maintaining your lifestyle who make on average 15k-30k should be able to live in San Francisco too.

Posted by alicia on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

Someone has to make the latte's there, right?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

Back in LA they used to have 'day without a Mexican' which basically shut down the service sector in LA. Anyone recall the pix of downtown LA and the Harbor freeway shut down by half a million Mexicans? Or how about back in the 30's when dockworkers shut down the City? So why can't there be a 1 day general strike by service workers here in SF? Say on May 1st?

Posted by pete moss on Feb. 24, 2013 @ 8:12 am