Urbicide

Take a look at the map on the front page and you get the point: Thousands of San Franciscans are getting thrown out of town

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Every point on the map (click here for the detailed, interactive version) is a building where the landlord has used the state's Ellis Act to evict all the tenants. (The points typically involve multi-unit buildings, so the number of tenants displaced is even worst than it looks). Some tenants have been here for decades, living in rent-controlled apartments, contributing to the community. And when the eviction notice arrives, they have nowhere else to go.

>>TO SEE A PROPERTY-BY-PROPERTY SPREADSHEET TRANSLATING OUR COVER'S EVICTION MAP -- THAT INCLUDES LANDLORD NAMES --CLICK HERE

It feels as if all of crazy, radical, artistic, and unconventional San Francisco is under attack, as if a city that once welcomed waves of weirdos and malcontents — who, in turn, gave the city its attractive reputation and flavor — is changing forever. It's as if there's no longer any room for the working class — the people who, for example, keep the city's number one industry (that's hospitality and tourism, not tech) functioning.

It's terrifying. Neighborhood after neighborhood is losing affordable rental housing as landlords cash in on soaring prices. And there's a huge human cost.

In the end, if trends continue, this will soon be a very different city. We all know that change is part of life (and certainly part of hyper-capitalism) but the notion that there's a value to a city culture that needs low rent housing and cheap commercial space has been all-but abandoned by the administration of Ed Lee, which wants high-paying jobs at all costs.

And it's hard to imagine how the best of San Francisco — the city whose culture and sense of madness attracted all these creative folks in the first place — will ever survive. Call it Urbicide — because as Rebecca Bowe reports here, it goes way beyond residential evictions.

Comments

It is unsustainable to have a community that consists only of high-tech workers who make six figures. It is also unsustainable to have a large community of people forever paying rents on a baseline set in 1980.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 9:59 am

A policy decision is one thing. But if the public and the drivers have been misled into believing that the drivers are being tipped out of the funds paid to Uber, then the lawsuit is not frivolous at all.

The article unfortunately does not provide a lot of detail regarding the allegations.

Uber's response is wanting to say the least. They haven't even seen the complaint and they are calling the lawsuit frivolous? The correct response should have been that while they do not believe that they have done anything wrong, the company takes driver and customer satisfaction very seriously. Maybe adding something in there w/r/t increasing efforts at transparency. They're a young company, so I guess they get a pass.

Posted by Guest2 on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

What this map shows is that there was a total of 1000 evictions in SIXTEEN years!

How is that an epidemic?

Posted by Maldita fondada on May. 23, 2013 @ 5:50 am

with the far greater number of tenants who are evicted for their owns stupid fault, like non-payment or late payment of rent, breach of their rental agreement (illegal pets or roommates) or a variety of other dumb transgressions.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 7:00 am

Oakland is ten minutes away, has lot os space and under-utilized buildings, and the rent is half what it is in SF.

Non issue. In fact a few less "malcontents" would be a very good thing.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 7:01 am

Of course in the 21st century people live in urban areas, not the old fashioned "city". That's why the census department has long measured "Metropolitan Statistical Areas". Most of the people reading this live in "San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA" according to the census department.

The SFBG's problem is that voting is done at the city level. And the demographic shifts indicate that there will be fewer Mirkarimis, Avaloses and Camposes in our future.

That's why they keep publishing that ridiculous map that makes 1,300 attempted evictions over 16 years look much bigger. Like those airline maps showing that almost every inch of sky is covered because each plane is the size of Rhode Island.

Posted by Troll on May. 23, 2013 @ 7:45 am

a shallowly-disguised attempt at trying to skew the voting demographic for SF. same reason they oppose 8Wash which will provide 11 million for BMR housing but of course the over-riding factor is that those new, rich residents won't vote the way Tim tells them to.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 8:43 am

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Festa on Aug. 03, 2014 @ 11:34 am

Real estate owning publishers, editors and benefactors associated with the SFBG should buy property at greatest risk of Ellis eviction with their equity and proceeds.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 9:54 am

First of all, to everyone who says "go to Oakland":

Go to hell. Oakland's rent prices are increasing too, partly because of the same processes of gentrification that are happening here, and that the Moneyed are taking advantage of.

And yeah, you can go find partisan motives here. Because it's true - compassionate people do swing to the left. The "me and my money first and everyone else f*ck off" crowd - those generally vote "pro-business, pro-growth", and are more to the "center" right. You know what the center is? People without firm convictions. We don't live in a time where you have the luxury to be in this mythical center. Either you care about others, and think we need a more compassionate, safety-net oriented, socialist government - or you don't, and you think we are better off letting everyone fend for themselves, the "pro-growth" way.

And if you are of the latter ilk, YOU DON'T BELONG IN THIS CITY. This city has historically been a haven for these ideologies and the people who champion them. The Moneyed want to turn this into another mall for themselves, even though what made this city appealing to people in the first place is the fact that it was a real place made real by diverse communities, and NOT some safe, rich-friendly conglomeration of trendy food spots and boutique designer crap.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 10:50 am

economic reasons because nobody should be driven out, but then you say very boldly that pro-business types "do not belong in this city", thereby exhibiting exactly the same intolerance that you are accusing others of.

But Oakland is much cheaper and it is also has great transit into SF and rents which, while not cheap by national standards, are considerably cheaper than SF.

So, no, I don't think it's a big hardship if a few people who clearly cannot afford to be in SF go elsewhere. No problem at all, and in fact a good thing.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 11:26 am

this is pretty hilarious.. It also pretty perfectly encapsulates the extremely narrow minds that you'll run into in these parts.. the urban hillbillies

Compassionate people are people who say "you dont belong here"
Growth is bad
pro business is bad
being "center" is bad

So, basically to sum up. Oakland is full. It's full because all the people that should be there are there now. If you come now, you're a gentrifier. Oakland is forbidden to grow because growth is bad.
Oakland also should not be safe, because its too busy being "a real place, made up of real communities"

Posted by NOT_Eric_Brooks on May. 23, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Festa on Aug. 03, 2014 @ 11:33 am

people who have moved INTO new homes?

It's not like these units vanish, and in fact it is quite hard to get a permit to merge or demolish a unit.

So the only real question for the city is this. Are the people moving into the city more valuable, contributory and productive than the ones leaving?

From what I am seeing, in many cases that is true and therefore a good thing net for the city.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2013 @ 7:34 am

I am third generation San Franciscan. I have seen what has happened to my lovely city that was once a haven for the artists and all around counter culture. The 90's were a curse as it attracted the dot com shats that drove out families and made it cool to live in the ghetto . They drink n bars that used to be 'old man bars' when I was even a child. The natives hadn't changed it is the jerks who moved here driving out what made SF so wonderful to begin with. I refuse to move out of my rent controlled apt. Many of you who say people didn't pay rent or violated leases have very little understanding and are unfamiliar with the Ellis act in where 15 friends of mine were displaced. One day you self entitled jerks will wonder why your fancy Latte is not being made or why the service at the Cantina's are slow. I did move to Oakland one and the Peninsula in the 90's but managed to find a small place I could afford. I will not be bullied out. One day this place will be over and the entitled jerks will keep moving, they are already destroying Portland and Seattle...

Posted by Guestma on May. 24, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

pay their bills?

What makes your presence in this city worth paying for?

That Ellis Act is the main solace and savior for property owners who took a risk investing for their future and then got stuck with parasites, leeches and losers who try and squat there forever on stupid rents.

You'll get Ellis'ed sooner or you'll get Ellis'ed later. But you cannot stay here unless you pay your way.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

shows exactly the type of attitude that Guestma dislikes about Mammonville, formerly known as San Francisco.

How much money is enough for you, greedy one?

You can't take it with you after your upcoming machete accident.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

it is for the appalling "Guestma" to want an artificially cheap rent.

The question for Guestma is simply why we, the SF taxpayers, should support her getting a subsidy? What does she bring to the table that any of us give a crap about that warrants a handout?

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

The very definition of risk is just that -- a risk. Okay, so that's a little tautological, but my point is that a risk is not a guarantee. It's a chance. Sometimes risks pay off and sometimes they don't. That's life. Don't like risk? Buy a CD instead of property.

Posted by So what? on May. 24, 2013 @ 11:41 pm

buy a building with low-rent tenants because it will be under-priced, and then Ellis it and sell it as TIC's. It's virtually risk-free, guaranteed money, which is why some out-of-town investors and property companies are getting into the game.

You can be in and out in as little as 6 months, and all with borrowed money. Gotta love this country.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2013 @ 6:57 am

...its people, unless they're wealthy.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 28, 2013 @ 7:07 am

Not many SF homes are vacant.

Posted by Ed on May. 28, 2013 @ 8:25 am
:P

I am third generation San Franciscan. I have seen what has happened to my lovely city that was once a haven for the artists and all around counter culture. The 90's were a curse as it attracted the dot com shats that drove out families and made it cool to live in the ghetto . They drink n bars that used to be 'old man bars' when I was even a child. The natives hadn't changed it is the jerks who moved here driving out what made SF so wonderful to begin with. I refuse to move out of my rent controlled apt. Many of you who say people didn't pay rent or violated leases have very little understanding and are unfamiliar with the Ellis act in where 15 friends of mine were displaced. One day you self entitled jerks will wonder why your fancy Latte is not being made or why the service at the Cantina's are slow. I did move to Oakland one and the Peninsula in the 90's but managed to find a small place I could afford. I will not be bullied out. One day this place will be over and the entitled jerks will keep moving, they are already destroying Portland and Seattle...

Posted by Guestma on May. 24, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

make it twice as convincing, ya know?

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

but rather that those who *chose* San Francisco as adults as I did tend to have a greater right to claim a true affinity for it; but your point is well taken otherwise.

San Francisco is being hollowed out and Disneyfied by those who don't actually love it for what it is and what it has historically been -- working class, melting pot, non-conformist, bohemian -- and when they get done they'll find they can live somewhere with less hills and more hospitable climate and move on.

Whether it will revert to something like it was or get converted into two or three huge estates... I rather think the latter is more likely than the former, but I'm open to any ideas suitable for changing the course it's on.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 24, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

your reasons for liking it here are somehow more noble and decent and reasonable than somebody else's reasons?

The real problem with SF is that it's much-vaunted "tolerance" is a myth. There's you and "ma" claiming that you should be able to afford SF for no reason other than that you like it here.

So what? I like Aspen but it doesn't mean that others should subsidize my ability to live there. If I want to live in Aspen I either have to become rich or learn how to ski really well and give ski lessons, hoping to nail some well-paid banker who will pay for me to live in a place that I like but cannot afford.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

clearly because you were born here, you have a right. ... talk about entitled. I was born here and can only afford the mission but I want to live in pac heights. do you think I should therefore have a right to? sorry, I don't think those people who worked harder, had more school loans, or happened to be lucky and have more money than me don't have a right to live where they can afford. the entitled are those in rent contoled apts, many not working in the city, some with large paychecks or savings, or property elsewhere, who feel entitled to have low rent forever, because they were here first. if you want justice, support means-testing for rent controlled apts and support working class and poor getting first dibs on subsidies. but tenants hate even a discussion of equitable distribution of rent controlled apts.

Posted by ray on Aug. 13, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

I'd rather have my neighborhoods stable with folks who have lived here continuing to live here than to live around libertarian scumbags like you.

Our only error was making our neighborhoods too 'vibrant' which tempted the speculators.

Posted by anon on Aug. 13, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

clearly because you were born here, you have a right. ... talk about entitled. I was born here and can only afford the mission but I want to live in pac heights. do you think I should therefore have a right to? sorry, I don't think those people who worked harder, had more school loans, or happened to be lucky and have more money than me don't have a right to live where they can afford. the entitled are those in rent contoled apts, many not working in the city, some with large paychecks or savings, or property elsewhere, who feel entitled to have low rent forever, because they were here first. if you want justice, support means-testing for rent controlled apts and support working class and poor getting first dibs on subsidies. but tenants hate even a discussion of equitable distribution of rent controlled apts.

Posted by ray on Aug. 13, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

There is a serious level of ignorance in these "I'm a 3rd generation san franciscan" type posts, as if your grandparents landing here some time ago leads to some profound level of inbreeding which vastly affects intelligence.

If SF was a city of originals, then it would be for the ohlone, and something tells me they would be much less strident in their right to codify what makes san francisco san francisco.

The current crop of "natives" bears a striking resemblance to the south during the jim crow period

Posted by Maldita fondada on May. 25, 2013 @ 9:09 am

type of "right" to live in SF, based either on being born here or just thinking that they might not fit in so well elsewhere are invariably the exact same people who contribute nothing to the city.

So why should public policies and de facto subsidies be given to them when their fiscal situation makes them better suited to somewhere like Stockton or Fresno?

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2013 @ 10:06 am

is what exactly?

I mean in addition to your undefeated record in debates on the SFBG comment pages.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2013 @ 10:26 am

enables people who otherwise could not live here to stay and therefore contribute uniquely to life in the city.

So it is reasonable to ask what the contribution of someone who enjoys rent control is. The same question need not be posed to someone who pays their own way.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2013 @ 11:38 am

you make no contribution to San Francisco, just profit seeking.

Bestemor.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

Consuming far more in benefits, allowances and subsidies is not.

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2013 @ 11:20 am

I would certainly think that teachers (and a host of other low-paid, essential workers) "contribute uniquely to life in the city," but it is almost impossible for teachers to afford to live in SF. As a teacher who can no longer afford to live in SF, I find the social darwinists' comments in this thread to be really insulting and ignorant. Who are you people? You all seem to been seduced by the "every man for himself" ethic that is currently afflicting our culture.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

So your argument doesn't stack up.

Most SF cops and fireman don't live in SF either.

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2013 @ 11:20 am

San Francisco has a problem. More people want to live in San Francisco than there is housing for them to live there. This creates a situation where the rich can outbid the middle income and poor. San Francisco has, rightly, created many laws to try to brake this dynamic. But as The Guardian has repeatedly shown, there's simply too much pressure on the housing market for this to completely work. While moving to Oakland is not the same as falling off the edge of the earth, real people and real lives in real neighborhoods are disrupted.

So demand exceeds supply--a better problem than, say, Detroit's, where supply massively exceeds demand, but still a problem. Theoretically there are two solutions. One would be reduce demand. This could only occur if San Francisco became a less terrific place to live, which is neither likely nor desirable (and would almost certainly hurt poorer people first).

So if you can't reduce demand, you need to increase supply. But the Guardian has opposed every development in San Francisco that would increase supply. They opposed making Parkmerced into a transit-oriented development, they opposed redeveloping the closed navy yard at Hunters Point, they opposed development on Treasure Island (which got an 11-1 vote at the Board of Supervisors). They oppose 8 Washington in downtown San Francisco, on the site of a health club for affluent residents. Perhaps weirdest of all, the Guardian has opposed small units because, horrors, "techies" might move into them (the same techies that are spending millions on houses?). Those units would be affordable and would allow renters to move out of low quality small units in places like The Tenderloin.

How about it, Bay Guardian? How about you become part of the solution instead of part of the problem?

Posted by Wanderer on May. 26, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

San Francisco has a problem. More people want to live in San Francisco than there is housing for them to live there. This creates a situation where the rich can outbid the middle income and poor. San Francisco has, rightly, created many laws to try to brake this dynamic. But as The Guardian has repeatedly shown, there's simply too much pressure on the housing market for this to completely work. While moving to Oakland is not the same as falling off the edge of the earth, real people and real lives in real neighborhoods are disrupted.

So demand exceeds supply--a better problem than, say, Detroit's, where supply massively exceeds demand, but still a problem. Theoretically there are two solutions. One would be reduce demand. This could only occur if San Francisco became a less terrific place to live, which is neither likely nor desirable (and would almost certainly hurt poorer people first).

So if you can't reduce demand, you need to increase supply. But the Guardian has opposed every development in San Francisco that would increase supply. They opposed making Parkmerced into a transit-oriented development, they opposed redeveloping the closed navy yard at Hunters Point, they opposed development on Treasure Island (which got an 11-1 vote at the Board of Supervisors). They oppose 8 Washington in downtown San Francisco, on the site of a health club for affluent residents. Perhaps weirdest of all, the Guardian has opposed small units because, horrors, "techies" might move into them (the same techies that are spending millions on houses?). Those units would be affordable and would allow renters to move out of low quality small units in places like The Tenderloin.

How about it, Bay Guardian? How about you become part of the solution instead of part of the problem?

Posted by Wanderer on May. 26, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

Half of them are NIMBY's opposing every new building.

The other half are the affordable housing crowd, who know we have to build more homes.

The two halves fight with each other ensuring that homes remain unaffordable, which suits the wealthy just fine as it keeps out the riff raff.

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2013 @ 9:50 am

One of the biggest problems surrounding any discussion about San Francisco rental property is that one participant in the discussion — real estate speculators — will try very hard to use well paid and highly influential public relations consultants to frame and shape the debate.

Both City Hall and San Francisco's mainstream media are already hand puppets for a narrow and socially tone deaf set of vested interests. Nothing would please them more than to have absurdly anti-landlord policies crafted by wholly self-appointed renters rights activists make speculation in rental real estate the lesser of two evils.

To create a truly workable future, let's agree that rent control laws should not punish responsible landlords. It's pleasant, but not at all helpful or sustainable, to expect anyone to use, say, 1980s or 1990s level rents to maintain a 21st century rental property.

At the same time let's also recognize that real estate speculators are by definition solely focused on shorter term profits at the expense of community and social stability.

The Bay Guardian, especially, has the choice of being a constructive or destructive voice in this important public debate. If The Guardian can do no better than to makes its usual doctrinaire set of "property owners = evil" arguments, it will marginalize those of us who are looking for new and fair compromises. If that happens, point the speculators will become a less malodorous skunk to the far-left's more generally repellent polecat.

Posted by Riley on May. 27, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

mantra is not helpful. But replacing that with "all speculators are evil" isn't so much of an improvement. Any market needs speculators because it is speculators that provide liquidity and capital, particularly when there are too many sellers as we had in 2008-2011.

Speculators are willing to take risk in order to facilitate a genuine two-way market in property and, right now, provide an exit strategy for landlords who, to paraphrase how you expressed it, are trying to meet 2013 property costs with 1985 rents.

The Ellis/TIC exit strategy can save providers of rental housing a floor under which their investment can not fall, but that does imply the willingness of speculators to step in, buy the property, and then Ellis, remodel, TIC and then sell. That takes courage, risk and capital.

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

to evict people from their homes in search of profits.

And without speculators, pity the poor landlord and his 1985 rents. Of course, you disregard any accuracy about how rent control or responsible property ownership really works. Who would buy a property if the rental income didn't provide a profit?

"Ellis, remodel, TIC and then sell" is economic terrorism seeking superprofits without producing a housing unit. Talk about parasites!

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

when rent control was imposed. The Ellis/TIC exit strategy merely redresses that injustice.

Oh, and every time someone is evicted, guess what happens? Someone else moves in, so it's a wash overall.

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

In the aggregate, we all die in the end. Also, in the aggregate, everyone could have the same amount of money as everyone else rather than the existing arrangement. That would also be a wash overall, so you must support that as well.

Bestemor.

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

We're looking at the situation from the point of view of the property. If there is an occupant before an eviction and an occupant after the eviction, then there is no net loss.

Some individuals are affected, of course, and one can argue that some gain while others lose from the outcome. Same goes for any change.

But we have to consider the city's point of view here, since we are discussing city policy, and therefore one would have to look at the value TO THE CITY of the new occupant versus the old occupant.

If the old occupant is an unemployed person drawing welfare benefits, and the new occupant is a well-paid productive contributor to the local economy and taxbase, it's easy to make the argument that the city has a vested interest in turnover.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2013 @ 2:37 am

Property doesn't have a point of view. People do.

And how do you know an unemployed person isn't contributing to the city in all kinds of ways--activism, volunteering, creativity--that your dull wage-earner isn't? It's not either/or.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 28, 2013 @ 7:06 am

in them, rather than look at the people and where they live. After all, people can and do leave the city, but the buildings stay here, which of course is why cities love to tax property over other more mobile assets and entities.

You might think being an "activist" or an "artist" is worthy but that is a highly subjective assessment. I, for instance, see little value in either and prefer people who work and pay taxes.

What matters here is what the city thinks because they are setting policy. And I do not want city policy to favour those who do not economically contribute. I can get my "art" and "activism" anywhere, but they don't pay the bills.

Posted by Ed on May. 28, 2013 @ 8:25 am

I own and live in a property that also includes long term tenants paying *less* than 1985 rents. I do not want to remain in the rental business, having spent far too much feeding the negative cash flow - for 10 years. TIC Speculators have approached me to buy my property. It might be time for me to sell and move on.

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

I've done one Ellis, one condo conversion and two TIC conversions, and have the capital and expertize to make this happen.

Let me know if you want to make contact and talk.

Posted by Ed on May. 28, 2013 @ 7:05 am