Mayor’s Press Secretary Bought TIC Created By Ellis Act Eviction

by Casey Mills on April 5, 2006

It was revealed yesterday that Peter Ragone, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Press Secretary, purchased a Tenancy-in-Common (TIC) unit in a building where an Ellis Act eviction of a disabled tenant occurred. When questioned about the fact that he had purchased a unit where such an eviction occurred, Ragone told Beyond Chron, “I had no idea. How would I have known?” However, documents reproduced here reveal Ragone signed and dated two separate fliers showing he had read and approved them, and both clearly state “Owners did perform an Ellis Act eviction on this property.”

Located in the Richmond District at 654-656 Funston Street, Ragone purchased the upstairs flat of a two-unit building in February of 2004. After granting Ragone months of contract extensions that he had requested, the building’s original owners said they would grant no more extensions. Ragone promptly sued the original owners to force them into selling him the unit, placing Ragone in the midst of legal battle in which he is fighting to finalize his purchase of a TIC created by the eviction of three tenants, one of them disabled.

The eviction of tenants at 654-656 Funston Street occurred in 1999. At least one of the tenants was deemed legally disabled at the time of eviction.

The building’s owners then put the building up for sale as two units in a TIC. They quickly found purchasers for the lower unit, and eventually received a bid from Ragone and his wife for the upper unit.

Ragone submitted two bids for the building. He also signed and dated two documents stating he had read and approved them. Both documents stated that an Ellis Act eviction had occurred there.

654-656 Funston Street’s owners say they sold the unit to Ragone on the condition that a TIC agreement would be drafted with his new downstairs neighbor. A TIC agreement was drafted, but never signed. The negotiations dragged on for months without resolution.

After long delays, the building’s sellers finally decided to stop allowing extensions. Ragone cried foul, and filed a lawsuit against the building’s owners in the hopes of forcing them to close the deal on the flat with him.

The revelations about Ragone come soon after Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced legislation that would prevent units like Ragone’s from ever being converted into condominiums. Peskin’s proposal would prevent buildings where multiple evictions or the eviction of a senior or disabled tenant occurred from ever entering San Francisco’s yearly lottery for TIC conversions.

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