San Francisco is often called the city of the tenant. An estimated 65% of the city’s housing stock consists of rental homes. Of that percentage, about 60% of these tenants are protected under the San Francisco Tenancy Act, also known as the SF’s version of rent control, which protects tenants in older buildings from the steepest rent increases. But that doesn’t mean that private owners and businesses can’t try to navigate these protections.
As SFist reported last week, Cleve Jones, who has shared a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Castro with a roommate since 2010, faces a situation like this: a landlord trying to prove the apartment isn’t his primary residence — and thus allowing it. The unit rent will go to market price, which means Jones’ rent will increase from $2,393 a month to $5,200 a month starting July 1.
“Our beautiful little world has been turned upside down by this owner,” Jones told a packed crowd at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco on Sunday, assuring the group “that it will be fine,” no matter the outcome.
The new duplex owner claims that Jones used to spend most of his time in Guerinville, California, where he owned a home. Kue also claims that his roommate is an illegal sub-tenant, which is not permitted in the terms of his lease agreement. (Just before the rally began, a moving truck full of Brendan’s belongings left their shared home.)
A vocal crowd of supporters, including state Senator Scott Weiner, San Francisco superintendents Raphael Mandelman, Aaron Biscayne, Dean Preston, and state Democratic chair David Campos, were there to show support not only for Jones, but for others in the city. who are facing eviction. Among the attendees were members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgences. Juanita Local Raffle Code More! She gave a pro-tenant speech that chronicled the history of her rentals (and struggles) in San Francisco; Other notable attendees included Tyler Termere, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and Stephen Torres, co-chair of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District Advisory Board.
One of the attendees—”Rob”—was seen holding a sign indicating that he was evicted from his home 25 years ago under the Ellis Act. Others distributed flyers on behalf of residents of 3661 19th Street, a building near Dolores Park that has been the subject of media coverage by Mission Local and others. This 12-unit building, Mission Local reported, was purchased by real estate speculators or “fingers,” and the tenants were given Ellis Law notices in 2020. Some of these evictions were delayed by a year due to the tenants’ disability status, but that ended up being a one-year delay. year in October 2021.
The Ellis Act is designed to give building owners the ability to “go out of business” as property owners in order to sell, demolish, or convert a building into homes for sale. Because of the vague text of the law, the idea of ”Ellis’d” being outside a rental home is something that weighs heavily on many San Francisco tenants.
In Jones’ eviction, the landlord is not invoking Ellis Law, but appears to be trying to avoid having to buy Jones out of his lease by claiming a violation of his rental status. At first, Jones had no intention of fighting a fight to stay in his house. “I don’t have the stamina and have months in an actual building area,” he told the Bay Area Reporter last week, referring to construction work on the adjacent unit that has already begun. “She can do whatever she wants,” he added. “She bet she could get me out and she did.”
But Jones’ tone changed Sunday morning. Before he finished his roughly half-hour speech, Jones told the crowd that he was in fact planning to do everything in his power to stay home and respond.
“This is not a fight we want,” Jones told the audience. “This is not a fight we are ready for, but I have come to the conclusion, this is not a fight I can walk away from.”
Below, some photos from Sunday’s rally, which was attended by a large number of local media.
RelatedFamous LGBT rights icon Cliff Jones faces displacement after new building owner doubles rent
Image source: SFist / Matt Charnock