Tenants and Supporters Rally Against Ellis Act Evictions

by Earl Brown on May 5, 2004

A throng of supporters including neighbors and activists joined the residents of 1353 Folsom Street this afternoon as they held a rally to condemn their landlord’s plans to evict them under the state Ellis Act.

Teresa Dulalas has lived in her apartment at 1353 Folsom since 1979. She shares the unit with her 70 year old father, 67 year old mother, husband, and three children. They share the building with two other families who have made the South of Market building their home for more than a decade.

Recently, a matter of days after a young wealthy couple purchased the building, the entire group of three families were told they would be evicted under the state’s Ellis Act. Teresa was shocked and dismayed but chose to organize their fellow tenants and fight the evictions.

Their plight is at the heart of a new wave of Ellis Act evictions sweeping through the City in recent months. “There have been three times as many Ellis evictions in the last six months as there were in the six months before that,” says Ted Gullickson, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union. “There are more now than during the worst of the dot-com years.”

The Ellis Act, passed 1986 by the State Legislature, was created ostensibly as a means to allow landlords to get out of the rental business. However, say tenants and activists, it is used the vast majority of the time by real estate speculators, as a means to circumvent just-cause eviction protections under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance and reap huge profits by evicting long-term, senior, and disabled tenants.

Dean Preston, a lawyer with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, who is currently working with Teresa and her family, has fought such evictions before. “The Ellis Act has been regularly abused by speculators. These speculators purchase under-priced buildings populated by long-term, low-rent tenants. They then evict all the tenants under the Ellis Act, and turn around and sell the units as tenancies-in-common (TIC’s) for eventual conversion to condominiums.”

As the rally drew to a close, Teresa Dulalas quietly thanked other tenants and activists for supporting her in her effort to save her home and for calling attention to the harmful effects of the Ellis act evictions. “I moved here with my parents and brother when we were very little. Now I’m married and have three young children and I still live here. We don’t want to move.”

Teresa Dulalas and her young children protest their eviction
Teresa Dulalas and her young children protest their eviction

Filed under: Bay Area / California

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