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

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. 12, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

bought a building (fairly sure you never have) then you'll know that there is always a phrase in there that says "legality not warranted".

What you are overlooking is that the city have been harassing this owner to do exactly what he is now doing, and suddenly the city says it was "only kidding"?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

no real successful real estate speculator would make the bonehead mistake of not understanding exactly what he was buying when he purchased a building

the very idea is laughable

Posted by racer x on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

Folks who bought SF property in 1978 got whipsawed when rent control was introduced.

Owners with 2-4 units were exempt from RC until 1994 when their buildings suddenly fell under RC.

And building code regulations are constantly changing.

Point being, you can always be surprised when you invest in property, and you need to be compensated for taking that risk with a higher ROI.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

that's just tough shit

they made an investment

it didn't pay off

tough

quit crying and get a real job

Posted by racer x on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

I'm one of the people who got a notice. Until this all came up we had no idea that some of the units were illegal. Each unit has sprinklers and grounded electricity so I'm not sure what the code problems are that remain. There's also evidence that the new owner bought with the intention of displacing us. So, I've been expecting it, too much money to be made.

I don't believe that the city owes me affordable housing, the issue has more to do with driving certain communities out of the city. We are made up of mostly hourly employees who drive taxis, serve drinks, own small shops etc . . . who come back to their space where they explore their first love. Should the city make room for people like us? As hard as it is to leave I know that there are plenty of cities that will appreciate our respective talents.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

and commuting for a few minutes each day.

Oakland is better suited for hourly-paid and low-paid workers.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 3:52 pm
Posted by racer x on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

prices and it's just 10 minutes from downtown SF.

Further out along BART, it's cheaper still.

It's all part of the same big urban area. People should think less parochially.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

the next time they go in to get their favorite mixed drink in a bar

how long will it taste good

if we drive all of the artful mixologists out of the city

Posted by racer x on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:14 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

Midnite is your idea of late?

Or are you the guest from LA?

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

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