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Thursday, September 26, 2013

An eviction reprieve, for now

Sometimes, we win one. The locksmith was on hand and the sheriff's deputies were on call Wednesday to haul the Lee family out of a home where the septuagenarians and their disabled daughter have been living since 1979. But more than 200 people showed up to protest, the Chronicle (finally) picked up on this and put the story on page one, and the sheriff backed down. According to the Tenants Union (and the twitter feed @stopsfevictions) the Lees have a short reprieve. The eviction is off for now, and it will be next Tuesday or Wednesday before the Sheriff's Office can be geared up for the next round.

Sup. Jane Kim was there. Sup. David Campos showed his support. Mayor Ed Lee was nowhere, and his press office still hasn't been willing to answer my questions or make any sort of statement.

But Tommi Mecca, a longtime tenant advocate, said it well: "Yesterday demonstrates how fed up folks are with what is happening. We have to send the message that it's no more business as usual until the evictions stop."

That's how we ought to be thinking about this. No more business as usual until the evictions stop. Every landlord who wants to make a quick buck be destroying people's lives should be shamed and protested, and every attempt to remove longterm tenants should be met with community resistance. We need to work on TIC buyers, too, and make clear to them the social cost of evictions; the Lee's unit ought to be considered a crime scene, and anyone who moves in should be forced to remember, every day, how awful it was.

Perhaps the Lee eviction will become a version of the I-Hotel, the fight that comes to symbolize a much larger battle over the preservation of low-income communities and the struggle for affordable housing. But this one isn't over yet: The owner of the building, Matthew Miller, still plans to evict the Lee family and turn the place into TICs. The delay is just that -- a delay. And tenant advocates will need to be back on the streets next week.

And I still wonder: Where is the mayor?



  1. who is matthew miller? there are tons of people by that name in SF. what does anyone know about him?

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Ed Les is just a tool for the real estate and tech interests in SF. I thought perhaps we hit rock bottom when Slick Willie was in office. Ed Lee has failed to meet my lowest expectations.
    I do have a question: If condo conversions can be regulated, can TIC conversions be regulated in some way? Perhaps, substantial fees on each unit converted or in a more proactive manner, offer landlords a tax incentive to not convert properties. If we can dole out tax breaks to all these tech companies, surety we can figure something out for landlords. If building owners feel as if they are recouping their perceived losses on rent controlled apartments, maybe they might be less likely to want to convert the building.

  4. Tim, you're a sweet optimist. But Ed Lee's only loyalty is to Ron Conway and other members of S.F.'s 1%. I'd be more surprised if the Mayor did something to make S.F. livable for those of us San Franciscans who aren't tech billionaires.

  5. Where is the Sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi? Other Sheriff's departments across the U.S.A. have chosen not to enforce evictions; He can order his deputies not to show up.

  6. Sorry, but 34 years in the same San Francisco apartment and still needed a Cantonese interpreter to speak to the press? Not a good poster child for this particular housing problem, esp. if you're going to trot out the disabled daughter as some kind of guilt-multiplier.

    Calling this a "crime scene" is also a provocative and unnecessary escalation of rhetoric that's geared toward staking out emotional real estate and not solving problems. The left has done as much to pillage and steal from the public trust as the right has -- so let's start by ridding the city of the Lembis and then work our way down to the Millers. He made a very reasonable offer to his tenants, who enjoy rather ridiculous late-80's era rents and leave the landlord no option but eviction for bringing the property into its current potential for revenue generation.

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