Tenants to Rally Against Ellis Act Eviction

by Jacob Schneider on June 1, 2006

A group of tenants facing imminent eviction will demonstrate publicly today with demands that their McAllister St. building’s new owners rescind the evictions. Though the story is not uncommon in today’s San Francisco—a rent-controlled building converted to market-rate condominiums at the expense of its residents—the tenants are joined by a surprisingly large group of supporters who see this attempted Ellis Act eviction as a watershed.

“There’s been an increase in the number of Ellis Act evictions in these larger-size buildings,” said Raquel Fox. “It’s almost like a progression.” The Ellis Act, a state law, allows building owners to evict tenants and convert apartments into Tenancy-in-Commons (TICs) and eventually into market-rate condos, the likely motive of the building’s new owners.

Aware of this trend, residents of two buildings and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi have spoken out against this eviction, which they said would have a dramatic impact on the local community. The 7-unit building includes three seniors, a family with two children, and a couple expecting a baby around the time that they’re due to be evicted. All are long-term residents of the building and may be priced out the neighborhood or San Francisco all together if they lose their apartments.

“Our neighborhood is a fantastic neighborhood with a huge mix of people and a lot of those people do rent,” said David Weingarten. “If you get thrown out, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to be able to live here anymore. People have created a neighborhood and planned to live their lives in that community.”

Weingarten has lived on McAllister St. with his wife and two children for 12 years. He said that if they are evicted, it will affect their lifestyle as well as their living arrangements.

“We both work part-time so both of us can be here to raise our children, he said. “If we have to leave, we’ll both have to get jobs to pay for a higher rent and then pay for childcare.”

Fox noted that the increase in Ellis Act evictions is connected to the dramatic decrease in San Francisco’s African American and young populations.

“When I grew up in Noe Valley, there were plenty of kids. We walked to school,” she said. “Now, we’re losing artists, musicians, and African-Americans.”

Fox and other activists plan to lobby stage legislators to protect large apartment buildings from Ellis Act evictions. But for now the focus is convincing new owners Elba Borgen and Laura Rogers to spare the tenants before the August 6 eviction date, a battle Fox is optimistic that they’ll win.

“I feel really good,” she said. “We’ve had legislation passed that if there’s an eviction of seniors or a mass eviction they couldn’t convert them to condos.”

In addition, Proposition B, which San Francisco voters will weigh on June 6, would require building owners to disclose at the time of the sale of a condo whether elderly or disabled residents had been evicted.

For his part, Weingarten is apprehensive about the coming months, saying that he doesn’t trust the new owners.

“The new owners never met with us and never talked with us so I’m not so optimistic that they’re decent people,” he said.

Today’s demonstration will occur at 5 pm at 1530 McAllister Street.

Filed under: Archive