Lee family quietly leaves home as activists pledge to push reforms

|
(209)
Gum Gee and Poor Heung Lee outside the Jackson Street home they left last night because of an Ellis Act eviction.
Mike Koozmin/SF Print Media Co.

Members of Lee family quietly moved out of their longtime home in Chinatown last night, a day before their latest scheduled Ellis Act eviction, which had been postponed twice before thanks to headline-grabbing progressive activism that turned away deputies and persuaded the Mayor’s Office to intervene with the landlord.

But this time, the Mayor’s Office has been mum about the case (officials haven’t responded to our requests for comment) after failing to find a solution to the Lees – an elderly couple using Social Security to care their disabled 48-year-old daughter – still unresolved situation. With help from the Asian Law Caucus and Chinatown Community Development Center, the Lees moved their belongings into storage while they are staying in a hotel.

“The family is staying at a hotel in the city for the next few days as they try to finalize on a couple of potential rental units here. They'll be paying over twice the amount that they had been paying for their rent-controlled unit. Their SSI won't be enough to make ends meet, and so they will be spending down their relocation compensation, which may be depleted in the next several months,” Asian Law Caucus attorney Omar Calimbas told us. “Hopefully, the family will be able to find subsidized housing by then, or they will be in a precarious state of affairs again.”

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi told us yesterday that he’s been waiting for word from the Mayor’s Office and hoping to avoid this evicting the family. “We’re duty bound. It’s a court order,” Mirkarimi said of his eviction obligation. "The eviction is on the books, but we've been expecting an alternative plan by the Mayor's Office after he intervened in this case.”

The San Francisco Examiner, which had earlier given splashy credit to Mayor Ed Lee for stalling the Lee family’s eviction – to the irritation of some activists that probably deserve more credit than anyone in the Mayor's Office – had the only journalist on the scene with the Lees last night, but the paper didn’t have any comments or updates from the Mayor’s Office.

Weeks before Mayor’s Lee's headline-grabbing Sept. 25 intervention in the Lee case, Mirkarimi had his Eviction Assistance Unit contact the Lees and try to help them avoid being turned out with no place to go. But in a city where his office performs around 1,000 evictions per year – it executed 998 court-ordered evictions last year -- the single full-time staffer in that office is overwhelmed.

"We need more staff to assist when it gets to this point," Mirkarimi told us. But his budget request last year to add another position to the unit was denied by the Mayor's Office and Board of Supervisors, a request that Mirkarimi renewed in a Sept. 30 letter to Mayor Lee.

“When there is a determination, our EAU attempts to support individuals and families facing eviction, not just Ellis Act evictions, but all evictions. This unit is comprised of one full time deputy sheriff and the partial time of another deputy.  Based on [the current eviction] trend, our EAU staffing is insufficient and ill-equipped to assist qualified individuals and families who may be at risk of becoming homeless,” Mirkarimi wrote. “With renewed focus on the consequences of evictions in San Francisco, I return to our FY 2013-2014 budget request to enhance our EAU with one full time clinical outreach worker.”

Meanwhile, the activists say they won’t wait for the next budget cycle or rely on the Sheriff’s Department for help with imminent evictions. They say that they plan to propose a package of reforms for dealing with the eviction crisis as soon as this week.

"Overall, the several weeks of reprieve from the eviction that were won after an incredible display of community solidarity with the Lees were very important in giving them time to find a temporary fix,” Calimbas told us. “Stay tuned in the next day or so for the next move by a growing coalition of community organizations, housing advocates and labor in pushing for a comprehensive package of legislative reform to curb the outbreak of displacement-based speculation.”

Guardian Staff Writer Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez contributed to this report.

 

Comments

I like yoghurt!

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

Although you keep changing your story on them so anyone could be forgiven for being confused.

You started out thinking they would drive out those whom you call trolls, which is really anyone who doesn't agree with you.

When that didn't work, you claimed it was to blackmail Steven into introducing registration, because evidently you do not respect him enough to make the decision himself.

And now you do it simply because so stop doing so would be an admission of failure.

So you are stuck with it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

you've got it all figured out don't you?

look brainfuck

if the barriers weren't working i wouldn't waste my time with them

just as i no longer waste my time naming bumps "bumps", and putting them all in the same reply line, because when i do they get deleted

i changed the strategy to one that continues to work instead

likewise, i'm dropping the racer x handle because it obviously won't work anymore

i don't keep engaging strategies that have stopped working

....and what i say openly about the *reasons* for my strategies

well

only an idiot would believe those statements, because i would clearly spin those statements to be deceptive

so you must be an idiot

n'est–ce pas?

(after you get done looking that up because you are too uneducated to know what it means - let me know)

Posted by jjhfdgu on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

if the city owned all housing property it wouldn't be for sale to anyone

it would remain a public commons

as it should

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:19 am
Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

How would you decide who gets to live where?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

I wonder why he didn't attend Steven's meeting. He'd be among friendly faces there, and they can all join in with the rallying call "Death to all Landlords!"

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:42 pm
Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:46 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

a neighborhood co-op should suffice

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

Why haven;t you set one up during your lunch breaks from Burger King/

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

But as if something would have to change for that to happen. But it could happen now. All he has to do is raise some finance, buy a suitable property and start his own co-op.

So why doesn't he do that? Why does he expect others to do it for him?

Or perhaps that passive victim mentality is exactly why he makes little money and spends most of it on renting a crappy studio.

Posted by anon on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

i said it is desirable, and that it is indeed already being done in many places all around the world and in this country

Posted by jbdgefr on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

The Ellis Act relieves renters of this injustice. They are freed from paying to live on property they do not own.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

Yo, racer, it's an act of mercy evicting your ass.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

They prevent excessive, egregious examples of tenants stealing from landlords by exploiting rent control.

Posted by anon on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

is a weak but slightly helpful method of getting back a little of what was stolen

Posted by jjhfd on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

You really never did grow up, did you racer?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

buying a piece of land, and making people pay you to live on it

is stealing

the fact that you never figured out such a simple concept and operate in inbred circles where it isn't discussed

does not make the obvious less true

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

Why don't you arrest landlords and hand them over to the police then?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

modern day landlords are little different (and are in many ways worse) than feudal landlords

they use their wealth, power and inheritance to control land and then force people to pay them a profit to live on it

this when each family should instead be allowed to establish their own homestead (as in the homestead act) on a fair sized piece of that land without paying anyone anything other than hiring professionals to upkeep the property

there is no logical or ethical reason whatsoever that you should be able to own land and make people pay you a profit to live on it

none

Posted by jj on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

an extortion racket

Posted by jjh on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

that's going to result in on wet goblin

Posted by jjhf on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

I like yoghurt!

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

theft

yes

Posted by jjhfdg on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:08 pm
Posted by pjhdfjhh on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

needs an elf tonic to calm down

Posted by jhd on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

this is simply a barricade against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by njhdfkh on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

"do you ever get tired of cutting and pasting the same comment
over and over again for years on end?

i would think it would become quite tedious"

LOL. LOL. LOL. Pot, Kettle, Black.

"troll barricade
this is simply a barricade against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk"

Tedious, meaningless repetition is what we do!

Posted by Lilli Racer X on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

i post

other

things

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

occasionally do something different?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

and the barriers are more structural that literary

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

Do you ever get tired of losing?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:00 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:30 pm
Posted by jhdy on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

Other incentives to consider:

Property tax credits for housing providers with "protected" tenants. They clearly provide a valuable service and should get assistance.

Means testing. High income tenants should not receive affordable housing subsidies.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

Better yet, the city government could get out of the business of manipulating the housing market.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

land use. The relationship between the cost of housing and the degree of land use regulation is an almost perfect correlation.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

co-operative in nature. As long as landlords are regarded as the "enemy" in SF, then you really cannot blame them for effecting Ellis evictions.

Some reasonable loosening of rent control in some key areas could reduce the number of Ellis evictions without too much hardship.

Tenant activists need tos top thinking only in terms of the stick, and start thinking about what carrots they can offer instead.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

The solution is ending the practice of housing for profit. Which is of course a pipe dream.

So we're stuck with this shitty system with collateral damage to blameless people like the Lee's.

Throwing money at landlords in the form of tax incentives or subverting rent control with means testing won't solve anything except improving the cash flow (at public expense) of already profitable landlords.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

Yes. A pipe dream.

Meanwhile, we can all agree that Ellis evictions will continue, particularly in those properties with long-term "protected" tenants, which - speaking from personal experience - are not profitable.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

entire capitalist system which, as you note, is impossible. The way to solve a problem is to focus only on that problem. The question here is "how do we reduce the number of Ellis evictions?"

The answer isn't by statute because that has all been tried and the courts have made it very clear that Ellis stands.

So the answer is to remove the reason why property owners Ellis in the first place. And now landlord Ellis's casually because it comes with various drawbacks. It is desperation that leads owners to Ellis, and it is no coincidence that most Ellis'ed tenants are old (rent control rewards tenure) and poor (else why didn't they buy instead?)

So why doesn't the city amend rent control to provide relief to landlords who have very low paying tenants? Maybe a minimum rent by square footage? and means test it?

The city could also kick in money to help any landlord stuck with low-paying lifers so that the tenant still gets a subsidy but the landlord gets a reasonable ROI.

In fact it is the vastly variable ROI between different properties and the "lottery effect" of getting turnover versus squatters that causes much of the motivation for owners to Ellis.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

Or they can just move some place they can afford, which is what every other of the 7 billion persons on the planet do, EXCEPT FOR IN SAN FRANCISCO where squatting is a human right.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

that leads to Ellis Act evictions. The most common current trend is Ellis Act after a property sale in order to convert and flip.

Plenty of young people are evicted under the Ellis Act. We were Ellis Act evicted when were 41 and 38.

Referring to tenants as squatters discredits your argument as you are clearly incapable of communicating accurately.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

actual rent and the market rent exceeds any level that is reasonable for a property owner. The burden of caring for SF's old and sick cannot fairly be put onto a very small number of landlords who are unlucky enough to not get any turnover.

It is the essential unfairness of how that burden is distributed that inevitably leads to Ellis evictions. Surely it is not beyond the progressive community to see a broader and more universal solution to those in need, rather than just sticking it all on a relatively small subset of people?

It feels like a lottery right now, that greatly favors landlrods who get turnover and tenants who never leave (hence the term "squatters".

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:10 am

The owner wants you to leave, you have no lease term left, you fight and refuse to leave, YOU ARE A SQUATTER. FACT.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:11 am

living in MY home for far less than what it is worth is definitely not a human right.

That is why Ellis is the law - to preserve the ultimate right of a property owner to control who lives in a home that he has paid for.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:19 am

No profit =.no housing... PERIOD!. They have no profit in CUBA and NOTHING has been built in over 50 years! You think housing grows on trees?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

housing is guaranteed to all Cubans

so

you

are

wrong

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

malaria-infested tropical communist rathole that is cut off from most of the world?

Well gee, who'd have thought it?

What are you waiting for then? When is your flight?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.