You want scary? We've got an eviction map


You want to see something frightening on a lovely afternoon? Check out this amazing interactive map of Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco put together by Brian Whitty.

It's stunning: Between 1997 and 2013, it seems as if most of the Mission, Noe Valley, North Beach, the Marina, and Potrero Hill was evicted. Hundreds and hundreds of apartments turned into TICs, which now want to convert to condos. Hundreds and hundreds of tenants, who once had rent-controlled apartments, losing their homes -- and given the price of housing, losing their ability to live in San Francisco.

Each little red flag is a human tragedy. Each one represents a transforming city that no longer has room for the middle class, much less poor people. It makes we want to cry. Or throw up. Or something.


This map is misleading, it shows too much and too little at the same time. The pins are too large in the small version and drilling down into the data, there are some pins that represent many evictions, such as the 1300 blocks of Minna and Natoma.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

By any means, since it's based on building data, not on the number of tenants in each building, which would make it far, far more alarming. But still: Holy shit.

Posted by tim on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

An Ellis Act is based on a very simple legal principle: A property owner has the right to exit rental business.

What is the realistic plan to take this right away? Most likely doing so would violate the US Constitution.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

I think the realistic plan would be to exempt speculators from Ellis Acting buildings. These people are in the business of flipping buildings for huge profits. They are short term property owners. Short of that plan maybe there should be a rule that newly purchased buildings cannot be sold for a period of years thus discouraging these speculators, who have very deep pockets,
and are changing the face of the city into one where only the upper middleclass people need apply. Buildings that have been Ellised and turned into Tics or condos are being sold for insane amounts of money. I am a fourth generation San Franciscan and retired City College teacher who has just been evicted. I am now forced to move an hour away to where I can afford the rent.

Posted by Guest Marla Knight on May. 03, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

That's the problem with progressives who endlessly want to give more and more power to governments. They keep running up against that damn pesky constitution.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

Can you cite the cases where it says it's unconstitutional or are you just bs-ing? Rent control is constitutional, zoning restrictions on what you can and can not build on your property are constitutional. Why isn't a law saying, you have to give people X amount of time before flipping a rental building beyond Y units constitutional ?

Posted by chrisfs on May. 05, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

a "taking" under the constitution, which was what was being referred to here. Onerous taxes on the same would likely be viewed that way.

Various provisions of rent control have been rejected for constitutional reasons including vacancy control and attempts to compel landlords to not leave units vacant.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 9:56 am

Speaking in terms of the takings clause is a really general way to approach the topic. I believe the request was for a specific example from case law. You sound like you may have read a text book on the constitution, but don't really have a very nuanced understanding of the particulars of this zoning/real estate issue.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 8:17 am

buys a home that is for sale. We used to have color bars that did that, and you may recall that those were outlawed on constitutional grounds.

Your idea of disallowing foreigners, or Asians, or wealthy people from buying a home suffer the same legal problem.

Discrimination in housing is bad, wrong and illegal.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 8:48 am

vermont has had what can be considered punitive tax law which applies a very large tax to land sold within six years of purchase ... ie flipping . this does not really apply to houses, but similar legislation could and should be implemented to stop this practice which is making millions of people houseless, and pushing many middle class white renters into occupying traditionally black owner neighborhoods by a double edged sword : the black owners have been forced out, often illegally, by foreclosure ... the homes are purchased by investors (often involved in the foreclosure push), and the white middle class renters who've also been pushed out take over whole neighborhoods because of the rise in costs in their previous neighborhoods. it's a case of double gentrification.

the vermont laws are legal and constitutional.

if you ever decide to quit seeing the government as 'they' and start being 'we, the people' making these choices to protect ourselves from the terrible effects of unfettered capitalism, we'd eventually become more stable as a people.

Posted by wiseoldsnail on May. 07, 2013 @ 8:39 am

something you like, but is conveniently "they" when it does something you don't like e.g. invading Iraq?

As you say, even Vermont's restriction isnt on residential homes, and it's not at all clear to me that such a local law here would survive a legal challenge.

Instead, why not try and understand what drives property owners to flip? It is in fact often those very same laws, taxes and restrictions that you seem to be in love with.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 9:58 am

If you had bought and owned property, you would not have this problem. Buying property lets you control it, not renting. If you were a college teacher I would think you would be more intelligent than that.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:08 am

The city has a right and a responsibility to regulate the market, for the good of the community.

No one forced those property owners to enter the rental market, which they knew was regulated. They have bullied their way to change the rules, and now the community pays the price.

San Francisco is losing, and a few rich people are gaining at the expense of the many.


Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2013 @ 7:40 am

If the city has a responsibility to keep property as rentals, the city itself will have to purchase the property and become the landlord. Another option is to modify the current regulations so that rental property owners have an incentive to remain in the rental business.

The city cannot force a property owner to remain in the rental business, especially if the owners want to live in their property as is the case with condos and TICs.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2013 @ 9:21 am

If rent control and property regulations intended to protect residents are unconstitutional, then so are the mortgage interest deduction and Prop 13 and all other homeowner subsidies. They transfer wealth from wage earners to property owners. It's discriminatory. Go fight that battle if you're so concerned about property rights. Nobody's labor should not be taxed to pay for anyone else's property, right?

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

The ability to deduct home mortgate interest and property tax payments allows property owners to pay lower income tax; subsidized by renters' higher income tax rates. We should eliminate all deductions, and tax everyone, no matter what income at the same rate, including Capital Gains, dividends, interest. That would be fair. Too many people don't pay anything, too many people get subsidized by others. Lets get back to fairness.

Posted by Richmondman on May. 23, 2013 @ 10:03 am

I don't believe there is support in the US Constitution for any such right. The Ellis Act is a state law that was passed in 1985 after the California Supreme Court ruled that landlords do not have the right to evict tenants to go out of the business of being a landlord. Hopefully the Ellis Act will be repealed in the near future.

Posted by Richard Hurlburt on May. 23, 2013 @ 9:26 am

other US cities?

You will probably find it is higher than SF where, because of rent control, people hog rentals, making Ellis evictions more inevitable.

Same as homeowners hog houses with a low Prop 13 basis. You approve of that as well, presumably?

Posted by Anon on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

Really??? Tenants don't pay property taxes. Property owners do. Those rental units being taken off the rental market get converted to condos. Those condos get sold. Property taxes are determined on the price of the condo sale.

However, if you want to raise a stink with Proposition 13 okay. I'll reject proposition 13 if that means we eliminate rent control.

Waiting for your "But..but..but..." response.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

But there is not a direct relationship since property tax is not passed thru directly (although some parcel taxes can be).

A TIC converting to a condo does not lead to an increase in property tax unless it is sold. In most cases, the TIC owner is doing the converting and then continues to live in the new condo, paying the same property tax basis.

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 12:27 am

@Guest - I have a hard time comprehending why this stupid argument keeps being brought up. Homeowners pay property taxes with tenants' money, duh. (What's more, even though the money came from tenants' pockets, homeowners get to deduct it from their taxes as an expense.)

Posted by Jym Dyer on May. 04, 2013 @ 8:17 am

that's really my whole comment. only in someone's pretend world is this not true. the amount owners charge for rent includes what taxes will come due. everyone but you knows this.

Posted by wiseoldsnail on May. 07, 2013 @ 8:40 am

Obviously a landlord has to make a profit, and therefore the rent has to cover the property tax as well as other expenses.

But equally clearly, under rent control, the rent cannot necessarily be increased to cover extra costs, altho some parcel taxes can be recovered from tenants via a passthru.

And rent increases are fixed at less than inflation and so, over the years and if you are unlucky enoiugh to haves ticky tenants, the margin becomes unsustainable and then, under current law, Ellis becomes inevitable.

So the system is far from transparent and equitable.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 10:01 am

on that map unfortunately. Early enough to find another (barely) reasonably priced apartment.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

in a city of 800,000 people. Meaning less than 100 per year. Lately there have been less than 200 per year again - in a city of 800,000 people.

Stunning. A real crisis.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

Not sure how you determined your numbers, Lucretia, but one of those dots on Page Street represents 4 apartments. In each of those apartments were at least 3 residents. So while you may have no problem with "100 per year", you need to multiply that to calculate the actual number of people that lost their homes - the ones for whom it was a crisis.

Posted by Katgirl415 on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

show less than 200 Ellis evictions in the past year. The reality is the number of evictions - not the number of people impacted by them. There are positive and negative impacts of everything. For every person evicted another received a windfall or a new home.

This is not "scary" nor a crisis. It's a manufactured opportunity for the Guardian (which, like the right-wing, rarely misses an opportunity to manufacture a crisis or take advantage of an existing one).

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

for Ellis, OMI, condo or any of the other "no fault" evictions.

Why no map for a type of eviction that is far more common?

Posted by Anon on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

Lu, but you can't cite 800,000 people as an important factor and then turn around and say the number of people impacted negatively by an eviction isn't important.

Of course, another important factor is the poverty of the people being evicted versus those moving in. Unless we really think San Francisco is supposed to become Aspen.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 01, 2013 @ 11:28 am

This is, really, only a part of the story. In many cases, there is no formal Ellis eviction filed, since the landlord simply tells the tenants: I'm Ellising the building. You can take ($INSERT CASH HERE) and leave, or I'll force you out and you get nothing. Many take the cash. So there are far more "evictions" -- that is, people who lose their homes -- than this chart shows.

Now: Nice that people get paid something when they leave. But if you've been in a rent-controlled apartment for years, and your landlord offers you $10K to $20K (about the going rate) to move, then that won't even cover your new much higher rent for a year. Unless you leave town, which is what happens.

Posted by tim on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 2:55 pm
Posted by Anon on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

Responding to "So you don't see the outrage in a property owner having to pay to get his own home back?"

If you purchase an apartment building, that is not your "home." If you buy a building with rental units, then you are buying the business as well as any "owner's unit."

It's one thing to evict one tenant for an owner move in. It's quite another to empty the ENTIRE BUILDING out of pure greed, to maximize the profits without consideration of the fact that THOSE TENANTS have paid off the building mortgage, taxes and insurance, and all the expenses over the years, via the rent payments. The bill went to the property owner, but he or she funded those expenses from RENT payments.

This is so obvious it is hard to believe it has to be explained.

Posted by Guest22 on May. 01, 2013 @ 10:38 am

So? It's the owners building. He can do whatever he wants with it. You act like the renters are entitled to something. Typical American.

They rented a place to stay, month to month. The owner supplied a place to stay, month to month. If the owner changes his mind, that's his right. Who cares what the reason is. I love how you label it greed though....nice.

Oh, and maybe if tenants didn't group up together to push land lords around you wouldn't be getting evicted. You made your bed now you have to lie in it.

I still can't get over how you think people who pay to rent are owed anything at all be land lords. People like you think the world revolves around you and others owe you for no real reason other than you think you deserve something.

Of course they paid the bills, that was the owners plan. You act like the tenants didn't get anything out of it. They knew the deal. And, newsflash, anyone can do that. Why didn't they take out a business loan and buy a 4 bedroom apartment building.

People with attitudes like yours are why America is crumbling. You think you are entitled to other peoples' hard work and possessions.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2013 @ 6:27 am

You don't know anything about the law. Tenants have the right of possession. Holding a piece of paper that is called a deed is not an absolute right to anything. You live in some kind of libertarian fantasyland.

Posted by glenparkdaddy on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

conditions including the terms of the lease and as long as the landlord elected not to issue an eviction notice for one of 15 causes, many of which do not require any fault on the part of the tenant.

This includes Ellis evictions to which there are no non-technical defenses.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

You are sadly mistaken! I am losing my home of 30 years and the other long time residents are senior and/or disabled--a total of twelve, not just one as your theory suggests. My guess is you've never been homeless or lost anything you cherished. Shame on you!

Posted by Guest victim on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

having a rent way under market?

Rents 30 years ago were probably one tenth of what they are now and increases have been minimal, so you have taken a massive subsidy from your landlord.

And still you are not happy, always wanting more and more. It's like a drug and you're an addict. Move somewhere cheaper, like the rest of us do and grow a spine instead of wanting a bailout all the time.

Posted by Anon on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

You're use of "subsidy" is misapplied and idiotic: she started paying rent on a fair market value just like the owner who bought the building paid a fair market value for the property, so where is this subsidy coming from? Just because an owner (maybe) thinks he/she is entitled to a higher rent doesn't mean they deserve it, and the lack of that extra profit isn't a subsidy either. By your own dumb logic then that means businesses who operate sweat shops are getting a subsidy from this cheap labor since these people should be paid more...

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

She should be paying the current fair market value of the property not the FMV of the property from 30 years ago. The landlord's cost of maintaining the property have increased over the years just like everything else has. The landlord is in business to make money. If there is no profit to be made renting property in SF, there will no one willing to lease property to renters.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2013 @ 3:58 am

The rents went up at rates *significantly* higher than the COLA for years before the law was adjusted the other way to compensate. Nonetheless, landlords enjoy rich returns on their investments.

One thing to keep in mind when you read the troll scatter on these pages is that like all reactionary propagandists, these curs will write *anything* they hope will discourage and demoralize those who oppose them. It's a microcosm of the larger political world.

Here's another take on the Ellis Act:

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 02, 2013 @ 6:32 am

When did rents go up higher than COLA? For a long time they have gone up less than COLA, which seems kind of absurd to me.

Posted by glenparkdaddy on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

For a while this was less than inflation, then later it was more, whereupon it was changed to 60% of COLA (why 60% and not 100% I have no idea - makes no sense).

Many Landlords do passthru's as well which allow for bigger increases, such as for parcel taxes, increased maintenance and capital expenses. So if I buy a rental building and my mortgage and property tax is more than the last landlord, I can pass that thru to the tenants.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

before the law was changed. That's because the rate increase "floor" was much higher than inflation. What changed when 1992's Prop H removed the guaranteed minimum increase of 4%.

Proponents of the law calculated that on a 1983 apartment rent of $500.00, landlords had pocketed an extra $5,000.00 of increases over the rate of inflation during the following 10 years.

The landlords have a gravy train and shouldn't have reason to complain except for naked greed. Fuck 'em!
(page 106)

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 04, 2013 @ 8:54 am

Properties might have sold, increasing costs like mortgage interest and property tax. That can make a huge difference but your average makes no allowance for that.

Every property has a different risk and ROI situation, so using one number for every property will always be misleading. Investors expect the ROI they could get from comparable investment and, if they do not get that, they will bail, which of course explains why many landlords exit the business, causing evictions, reduced supply and higher rents.

If you look at Ellis evictions, in nearly every case I can guarantee you that rents were artifically low and ROI's artifically suppressed. Ellis then becomes the only viable strategy.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 7:24 am

You got 30 years of cheap rent, talk about being greedy, that's just not enought for you….

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:17 am

Can you imagine what that map would look like if each person evicted had one pin for each dollar they were paid out to move?
The red would completely cover every square inch!

Posted by NOT_Eric_Brooks on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

If the law required landlords to "make whole" the people they threw out -- that is, pay the difference between existing rent and new rent for a substantial period of time (say, five years, or life if the tenant is a senior)? The Ellis evictions would end.

Posted by tim on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

And why should they be required to subsidize the rent even when the tenant is no longer in their building?

You have a very skewed world view. Landlords are required to rent to a specific tenant at a specific rent even when that tenant is in another building that you dont even own? What if they get a cheaper rent? Can they just pocket the increase?

Isnt this how Marcos was able to buy his Mission district home?

Posted by NOT_Eric_Brooks on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

If the law required tenants to "make whole" the landlords they'd been leeching off of for the whole time they were paying less than market rates for their housing? Here's a hint: You don't have a right to live in SF. It's certainly not anyone else's responsibility to provide you housing there if you can't afford it yourself. Fresno is cheap, move there.

Posted by A. Mouse on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

In this scenario, it is the landlords who are the leeching parasites, living off of the hard work of those in the rental market. Always so entitled, yet contributing nothing, while they take advantage of their neighbors, the landed gentry feel almost like it is their birthright to always demand more from others. This is a bubble, it will contract, and rents will drop again, the vultures will know fear again.

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 2:14 am