Watch this depressing time-lapse visualization of Ellis Act evictions

Each red dot represents an Ellis Act eviction. The size of the circle is determined by the number of units.

A series of red circles explodes on the screen, each representing another rental unit where tenants were driven out by an eviction through no fault of their own.

With a new time-lapse visualization of San Francisco Rent Board data spanning from 1997 to August of 2013, viewers can instantly grasp the cumulative impact of Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco.

It was created by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a newly hatched volunteer effort started to raise awareness about the rising trend of displacement in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Watch it here.

A landlord doesn't need just cause to oust a tenant under the Ellis Act; the law permits a property owner to stop renting units, evict all tenants, and sell the building for another purpose. The recent wave of tech startups and resulting influx of highly paid employees has fueled a spike in Ellis Act evictions as demand for housing has increased.

Working in collaboration with the San Francisco Tenant’s Union, Anti-Eviction Mapping Project volunteer Erin McElroy teamed up with core volunteers Olivia Jackson, Jennifer Fieber and a team of several others to analyze and map data from the San Francisco Rent Board.

The Ellis Act visualization is the first of several planned by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. The size of the circles that pop concurrently with each date corresponds with the number of units displaced.

“We started it with the idea of making a comprehensive map that would show things that weren’t being documented by the Rent Board,” McElroy explained. To that end, the project team has spearheaded a survey to gather data on tenant buyouts, harassment by landlords, rent increases, and bogus attempts to use the Ellis Act to carry out an eviction. The survey is available in Spanish and English, with a Chinese version coming soon. 

“We also want to map where people relocate to, in order to display the current and pending gentrification of other areas – particularly the East Bay,” she added.

In the next few weeks, the team will release maps based on data showing owner move-in evictions and foreclosures.

“We don’t have funding or anything like that,” McElroy explained, but the Tenants Union has allowed them use of its office space for meetings. The effort took several months of research and programming, and the result is a story of the displacement of 3,705 housing units over the course of 16 years – all of which can be absorbed a matter of minutes.


"and if you don't back off of evictions

your golden goose will soon be served for dinner to the city's tenants"

Lilli - the SFBG's own Madame Lafarge...

Posted by LOL Barrier! on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

The problem with bloodthirsty fantasies about a revolt to protect rent control is that people who really benefit from rent control are, you know, old.

Even if a young person lives in a rent-controlled apartment, he hasn't lived there long enough to derive much of a benefit - it's the people who have lived in rent-controlled apartments for decades who make out like bandits.

But it will be fun to watch the fifty-somethings storming the barricades to protect their cheap digs!

Revolution, Elderly Comrades!

Posted by LOL Barrier! on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

where the hell did that come from?

i assure you we don't need to attack people like you physically to deal with the ellis act

been watching a few too many hack and slash movies have you?

american psycho perhaps?

sort of fits your personality

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

moved to SF 20 or more years ago, maybe rented a shared flat with twenty-something friends, and then sat tight as their freidns progressed with their lives by moving out, marrying, having kids, buying a home and so on.

Instead they stayed put, and stayed and stayed. And with rent increases set at 40% less than inflation, their rent becomes a great deal. I know one guy aged 50 who has a 3-bed place in Nob Hill and pays under a grand a month for it. Sweet for him but he makes six figures in a tech job - how does this make for good policy?

Those arriving now are paying massive rents and, even with rent control, it will be decades before their rent can said be to cheap. And of course the Ellis/TIC process now has a professional organization set up and can process a lot of evictions, meaning an end to the lottery party.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 17, 2013 @ 7:02 am

More evidence that being a renter is not a long-term housing strategy, especially in a city where housing demand has FAR outstripped supply.

Build more housing?

Create incentives for landlords to stay in the rental business?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

fact the city family see people willing to take risk and provide homes as the enemy.

How did that ever happen?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

Please, they have only created incentives for landlords to GET OUT of the rental business, hence Ellis acts.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

leads inevitably to Ellis evictions. no property owner would Ellis if he has market-rent tenants. It's subsidizing low-rent multi-decades squatters that causes owners to Ellis.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

Congressman Dennis Kucinich once wisely said, "It is time to get profit out of health care."

And of course he was referring to the bogus profiteering that unfairly inflates the price of our health care.

Well, now we need to show some vision concerning the availability of housing in our cities and declare, "We need to get the profit out of rental housing ownership.”

Posted by ThinkAgain on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 9:39 am

It didn't work and the world then privatized as part of the Reagan/Thatcher revolution.

You were born too late for the "peoples" control of industry. did't work then and won't work now.

Kucinich? That gave me a chuckle - haven't heard the name of that terminal loser in a long time. Isn't he hanging out With Howard Dean and Ralph Nader? Smirk.

Posted by anon on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 9:56 am

writing anonymous comments on the websites of publications he opposes.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 10:14 am

a landlord to exit the rental business. Speculators have perverted this law by buying multiple buildings and imposing the Ellis Act multiple times in order to reap super profits.

The Board of Supervisors should craft legislation to put a stop to this abusive use of the Ellis Act. One imposition per owner per jurisdiction is fair and in keeping with the original spirit of the legislation.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

Ellis does allow a landlord an unfettered exit from the rental business. That was the intent of the law and it is what has happened. It is a superb piece of legislation because it acts as a great leveller - it provides justice by ensuring that local excesses can be repudiated.

But Ellis also implies a change of use, and that might be owner occupation. It might be short-term lets via AirBnB. Or it might be TIC creation.

But it is a mistake to say only speculators are involved. Honest decent property owners who have been fleeced by rent control finally have a mechanism for fighting back. Speculators provide liquidity to that process but the real social justice axiom here is that the government is constrained from taking private property beyond a certain point.

Ellis is a great liberator.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

How dare you make sense! We have to right to keep other peoples property, just because we are so much more magnificent than they are…

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

I understand that it's fun to troll on a site that has a point of view at odds to your own. If I were younger and more interested in just being a pain in the ass, I'd go to the right wing anti-Obama sites and write this kind of baiting stuff.

But, seriously, is it your set of values to be more concerned about profit-making than people? Is your sense of justice that AirBnB needs to be protected the same way that elderly tenants do? Do you think at all that maybe we should craft a society where earnings are not the measure of our human worth?

I know I should just ignore this kind of trolling, but I'd be happy to see an effort to give a human response to these kinds of questions. A response that speaks to values and not just laws or profit. And isn't just "clever" to score a debating point.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

community and not just a fortunate subset who have "got theirs" and want to deny the same deal to others.

Rent control generally favors tenants who have been in their place a long time, rather than those with genuine need. And it favors landlords who are aggressive and brutal enough to get higher turnover. How is that just?

We should help the poor but not the inert and opportunistic.

And we should help those property owners who are being exploited by tenants who stay put for no reason other than that the law gives them an incentive to do so.

That is my answer. Ellis is a balancing item to rent control. A fair-minded person would seek balance, not all-out victory for one side.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:44 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 bahbah on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

The SFBG should be commended for helping support this kind of analysis. It's actually helpful to the debate about SF's huge housing affordability challenges. However, a question asks itself: Neglecting all the legal and political reasons why the Ellis Act is not likely to be stopped, if we could in one instant bar ALL future Ellis Act evictions, would SF's housing affordability suddenly improve?? Economic analyses would demonstrate that wiping out EA evictions would have NO effect on the City's overall affordability. Eliminating the 16-year annual average of 231 evictions in SF's market of over 200,000 rental units could NOT be noticed.

Does this not suggest that, if housing affordability and preventing displacement is the main goal, EA evictions are a trivial factor?? Aren't EA evictions a symptom and not the problem?? It is disappointing that the SFBG never discusses in depth the tremendous imbalance between housing supply and demand as the root cause of these evictions.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

the SF housing picture, and in fact are only a very small proportion of the total number of evictions. So Ellis really doesn't justify the mania that SFBG devotes to it except for one reason. The left is helpless to do anything about Ellis and there is no real defense to an Ellis eviction.

That is what really riles the left - their utter powerlessness and ineffectiveness. They want power but they are not remotely close to getting it.

If SFBG were serious about creating affordable housing, they would support the massive construction of market-rate housing to increase supple and drive home prices down. But of course most of the left leaders own TIC's and condo's, and have a vested interested in no new build, in order to line their own pockets.

There really is nothing to see here.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

The San Francisco Rent Control Cult Official Dogma

1. Landlords are more evil than child molesters, serial killers and rapists… COMBINED!

2. We demonize landlords to make it socially acceptable to strip them of their property and reposition it for our personal use. (Just like the Nazi's started out doing to the Jews)

3. We use the canard of "Compassion" to try and shame and make others think it's amoral to use and control their own property. That by letting us steal their property they magically become "good" people. (this does not work well with anyone who has brains< but luckily for there are plenty who don't)

4. Rent Controlled tenants are have special privileges that cannot be denied FOR ANY REASON. Just our undeniable magnificence makes the city a far superior place and therefore our special and exclusive price controls, are deserved and can never be removed FOR ANY REASON, even if State Law allows it.

5. People who work and create technologies are worth less and have far less rights than out r privileged selves and should not even consider living in OUR city (even though we actually OWN nothing). WE WERE HERE fist so just go back to Mexi.. opps we mean Cupertino.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

Even with a Democratic super majority Ellis Act reform is a non-starter. Why? Only in San Francisco are tenants so out of touch with reality, that they think they own the property they rent. Renting does not equal owning . NEVER HAS NEVER WILL.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

The only solution is to use public dollars to purchase private residential units and convert them to some sort of permanently affordable housing such as limited equity community land trust condos.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

Even communist nations have stopped short of totally nationalizing all properties.

But if you want to start co-operative, non-profit homes, you can do that now under existing law. What are you waiting for? Raise some funds and get at it. I'd be happy to sell you one of my rental properties if you make me a reasonable offer. And as a non-profit, rent control doesn't apply and you can evict all the tenants and build your socialist dream.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

The City should float an ongoing stream of revenue bonds and take you up on just that. But the nonprofiteers would never tolerate anyone who is not within the income ranges involved in any sort of housing strategy. Over time, as units turned over, they would gradually become more and more affordable while being paid down, seeds planted for the future instead of eating the seed corn today.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

A 3-unit building in a decent area of SF will run you about 2 million.

A revenue bond paying, say, 4%, will cost $80K a year in interest. Property tax is another 12K a year. Then there is insurance, rehab costs, maintenance and so on. Figure 100K a year minimum in costs.

Add 20K a year because someone has to manage the property, and that's 120K a year. So each of the three units would have to rent for $4,000. Hardly affordable or what you had in mind, I suspect.

And if you do not cover the costs, nobody will buy the revenue bonds. Or they will default.

But there is nothing to stop you setting up a non-profit to do this on a case-by-case basis. So why haven't you done that? Why expect others to do it for you while you sit on your ass whining?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 5:23 am

I was thinking more like 6 unit buildings in the Mission and SOMA, rent controlled buildings that can never go condo.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

prevents it from going condo.

But you could set up a co-op house under existing rules. Just borrow the money, buy a building and then manage it. In fact co-op apartment buildings in NYC are very popular, and most NY'ers aren't interested in condo's.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

There is a ceiling on number of units over which a building cannot go condo. It is like 5-7 or something like that. Most of those bldgs are RC but that is a subdivision code matter, not the rent ordinance.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

an extra process at the State level. But they can still go condo - I know of a 7-unit building in North Beach that went condo.

Of course, condo conversions for anything over 2 units are off the table now anyway until 2025 or so.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

is suggesting - buying up big old buildings and running affordable housing untis in them.

It's not new. Randy Shaw is well versed in this strategy.

Posted by anon on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

The THC master leases SROs from the Patel families and then becomes landlord for SRO residents. Guaranteed profit for the Patels, for Randy Shaw and then the SRO residents get to deal with a guy who lives in a Berkeley Hills mansion as a landlord.

Posted by anon on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:42 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

Just like the mafia worked for everyone.

Posted by anon on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

public ownership.

How do you compute the odds of the voters going for that?

Posted by anon on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

Curious whether this data reflects a trend in SF since 1997 (is that the period being represented in the graphic?) toward more young families desiring to own a home in SF, rather than rent in the city. In other words, are the Ellis Act evictions driven predominantly by profit motives from real estate speculation, more than an increasing desire by people wanting to own and live in the city? And does that matter in the context of this discussion?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 9:42 am

The drive to own your own home clearly furnishes the demand that enables the resultant TIC units to be easily sold.

But obviously the process of moving from renting to owning requires financial viability for all the parties involved in making that happen, and so a reasonable return on investment is crucial, as it is in any line of business.

People like to talk about the tenants being displaced, but what about all the people for whom this provides an affordable home ownership opportunity?

For every tenants who relocates to Oakland as a result, there is a former tenant who now is the proud owner of a new home. Most see that as progress if they really think about it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 9:53 am

Renters are just that renters. If you want control over the property like you own it, buy it.

Posted by DDD on Oct. 21, 2013 @ 12:46 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 21, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

It's a bit odd to listen to a very emotional Russell Brand talking about the oncoming revolution since he's probably a multi-millionaire by now and clearly part of the "1%." It's even odder the video is posted on Marketwatch, a Wall Street Journal sister publication.

Maybe the editors are trying to give their readers a heads-up that this might be a good time to sell the stocks, bonds and real estate investments, buy some gold and a few guns, and move to that remote Montana cabin before the tenants and unemployed get some crazy notion they can overthrow the economic, academic and political elites.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:34 am

I do think we need to cushion the shock of rapidly rising rents for the vulnerable in SF, but the idea that Ellis Act evictions are an epidemic doesn't seem to be true. The folks at made an alarming looking map, but thier own data shows that Ellis evictions are rising but not that high historically, less than 0.1% of the total rental stock got Ellis'd last year. Here's the graph I'd love to see rent control means tested so the poor newer renters don't subside wealthy incumbent renters.

Posted by bd3517 on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 10:40 am

up political agitation and change by a few activists, but the truth is that the total number of buildings Ellis'ed in SF since the Act was passed is less than 1% of the rental housing stock.

So the real epidemic is that over 99% of rental buildings have NOT been Ellis'ed.

Far more tenants lose their home because of dumb breaches of their rental agreement or trying to avoid paying their rent.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 10:48 am

Rent control in SF means landlords are subsidizing middle income renters for years. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So when homeowners cannot afford to live in SF, they are forced to move way out of the area and SF city government does nothing to help them. But when renters cannot afford to live here, the board of stupidvisors bends over backwards to help them. Why? Because they pander for their votes. What has been the result of rent control and elimination of anti-loitering laws? Well take a look at how dirty the city has become, look at the tenderloin, look at pre-1979 properties with deferred maintenance, and lastly how costly rents have become. Take a look at the people who use to walk down market street between civic center and powell street in 1960 when we had better government leadership and compare to what walks down there today. Another interesting fact is that most tenants cannot afford to rent in post 1979 housing, yet those properties being allowed to continue to be exempt from rent control, while older buildings that require more upkeep are subject to rent control. Finally, it is a shame that we need to have an Ellis Act but building owners who put up their own capital and take on a lot of risk and liability are forced to subsidize renters for years and need the ability to sell their properties to get out of the rental business. Remember, this is a capitalistic republic not a socialistic society. If subsidized renters want the latter, I'd suggest they take a boat trip to Cuba and become citizens of that country.

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

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