Lee family quietly leaves home as activists pledge to push reforms

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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

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

It is much easier for a Cuban to legally travel to the United States than it is for a US citizen to travel to Cuba.

More accurately, the United States is cut off from Cuba. Canadians vacation in Cuba all the time. We're stuck with Cancun.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:45 am

American who renounces our bad ways and seeks a socialist nirvana.

You can fly there via Mexico, so it's no more problem for you to relocate.

Free homes for everyone, all the time!

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

So many fools here, No Cuban can leave, how can they travel on $15.00 a month wage (and the fools here whine about a living wage!) They can get on a little raft and drown, thats it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:15 am

home. Like residents of other developing nations (all with free trade privileges with the US), many depend on remittances from family members living in the rich developed (better said exploiter) world.

Which country has a better standard of living or human development index? Honduras or Cuba?

Try to buy a ticket to visit there legally and directly, not by breaking the law as you law and order types are now suggesting I do.

There are no paradises for humans on Earth. Cuba's trajectory is upwards despite a virtual state of war with the United States, whose trajectory is accelerating downwards.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:34 am

If you think it is better and yet you stay here, that makes you really stupid.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:18 am

Have you been to Cuba? I have, when you start a family you have to live with one of your in-laws BECAUSE THERE ARE NO AVAILABLE PLACES FOR YOU TO LIVE. They are all taken and no new ones are being built.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

And EVERY PLACE TO LIVE IN CUBA WAS BUILT FOR PROFIT, after the commies took over nothing was built anymore !!!!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:46 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

but let's assume your premise, for the sake of argument

at least everyone in Cuba *has* a place to live

so it looks like Cuba is doing a little better on housing than the U.S. which, though it is arguably the richest nation on earth can't even house all of its own citizens

pretty pathetic

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

Fine, I'll let you sleep on the floor of my garage ( from 8pm to 8am) next to my car for 80 a month... like in Cuba

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

In 1997, the Cuban government made internal migration to Havana illegal, in an attempt to prevent overcrowding. If San Francisco did the same, we'd have virtually no homeless.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:23 pm
Posted by Lilli Racer X on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:22 am

Cuba is unacceptable!

I can't get my sweet, sweet disability payments there!

Posted by Lilli Racer X on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:18 am
Posted by jhdye on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

Privately owned property is not the public housing stock of San Francisco! Stop trying to seize private property and enslave the owners into a lifetime of forced rent control of their valuable hard earned property. The Ellis act was meant just to keep self serving renters from voting in their own selfish interest, to get control of other people rightful property. Renting does not add you on title!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

The bundle of sticks decision by the US Supreme Court makes for great reading. It taught me that possession is the biggest stick among dozens of smaller sticks in the very complicated question of just what property "ownership" really means.

Sheriff Mirkirimi is evicting 1,000 tenants a year, so give him a call and I'm sure he'll add your units to the long list.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:22 am

that an owner as all rights of access, usage and restriction except for some well-defined exceptions. Municipalities like San Francisco typically try and push the envelope of those restrictions up to a certain point but, when they go beyond that, the courts typically slap them down.

So rent control only passes constitutional muster insofar as it still allows a landlord a "reasonable rate of return". That is why rent control allows certain kinds of passthroughs, for instance.

Ellis is a good example of a slapdown. Costa-Hawkins is another. If you think Ellis is a bad thing, note that it merely enshrined the principle of there being a limit to "takings" by the government.

As for Ross, I suspect he might have created more noise about evictions except that his hands are tied on account of RossGate. He has to tow the line and be squeaky clean, and even then he may lose re-election.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:10 am

It was never their home!!!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

It was never their home!!!!

Posted by Guestrobert on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

Seriously. Sad that these people lived so much time with cheap rent yet never thought to save up to purchase something of their own.
If I rent a car, that I need to get to work, I dont have the expectation that I can continue to do that as long as I live.

Posted by Bob on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

Shhhh. If racer begins to understand the concept of moral hazard his head will explode

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

What's next from San Francisco's "alleged" progressives? Forced re-education camps for landlords, where they learn that what's yours is really ours?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

class. In order to achieve anything, it seems, progressives have to engage in a very distinct three-stage process:

1) Classify people into one of two groups, e.g. landlords and tenants, 1% and 99%, white and non-white, and so on.

2) Categorize each of those classes with certain attributes e.g. landlords are "evil" and greedy" while tenants are "vulnerable" and "exploited".

3) Then declare war on the other class and try and win.

Because they never see everyone as being part of both the problem and the solution, they reduce every issue into conflict, confrontation and warfare.

Blend envy and resentment with a class war and you pretty much understand everything that the progressive mind thinks.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

Everyone should get that through their heads. You'll always be at the mercy of someone else. Buy now. Imagine if the Lees had bought all those years ago.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

because i certainly can't afford to buy a house myself so that i can stop renting

does the concept that you live in a real world where *most* people cannot afford to buy a home completely escape you?

you, are an idiot

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

It only matters that enough people can buy a home.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

Buy your own house you bum

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

Some where along the way Personal Freedom has been perverted in San Francisco to become Personal Free-loader-dom. Radical freedom demands radical self reliance !

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

Jack Spade!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

Then he has my sympathy.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

Perhaps they should try a candlelight vigil?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:21 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

I imagine he can really use your intellectual rigor and razor-like insight.

Posted by anon on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

I checked my race, class and queer privilege last night and did avail myself of the typical progressive luxury of jawboning with privileged white liberals in the lesbian gay transgender privilege center (where is the tenant center, huh?).

How anyone could do that and look at themselves in the mirror the next morning while tenants, including Latino immigrant families, were being evicted and oppressed just outside?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:36 am

You feel that you have lost your official victim status?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:03 am

Suppose I own a unit that can rent for 3K a month, market.

If I get 2K and the tenant is old, maybe I can live with that.

So if the tenant currently pays only 1K, necessitating an Ellis, why doesn't the city stump up a grand a month to subsidize the rent? That is cheaper than housing the family on the public dime, and enables them to stay in their home, while giving the landlord a ROI he can accept.

Or better yet, set all rents as a minimum percentage of the market rent - say 50% or 2/3. I guarantee you Ellis evictions would fall, because it is only ever low rent tenants who get Ellis'ed.

Posted by anon on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:42 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

and maybe a couple of other CA cities. It is the direct result of pushing the burden of welfare from the community to a small group with not much voting power.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:12 am

This is a Schizophrenic Troll Soliloquy Alert. It is posted to alert readers to the strong probability that a single schizophrenic troll is posting sequential comments consisting entirely of unvalidated statements calculated to aggravate SFBG readers.

One hallmark of comments which trigger the Schizophrenic Troll Soliloquy Alert is the commenter states his/her opinion about facts under the name "Guest."

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:44 am

Anyone still doubt that racer isn't Lilli?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

of cutting and pasting

or repeating an idea

(because you don't have ideas of your own)

Posted by kjf on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

along with all the hjkf nonsense.

It's all me.

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

This is a Schizophrenic Troll Soliloquy Alert. It is posted to alert readers to the strong probability that a single schizophrenic troll is posting sequential comments consisting entirely of unvalidated statements calculated to aggravate SFBG readers.

One hallmark of comments which trigger the Schizophrenic Troll Soliloquy Alert is the commenter states his/her opinion about facts under the name "Guest."

(repost under a suitably anonymous sobriquet... 2nd screwup out of five attempts at troll alertedness.. oops!)

Posted by Schizophrenic Troll Soliloquy Alert on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:46 am
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 9:51 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:11 am

Without what you mis-label label as "GREED" the real world does not function, Would you like a raise in your goverment entitlements? YOU GREEDY PIG.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:22 am

Try again, lover of tax advantages for property owners. Talk about entitlements.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:36 am

from the government or as a result of government activity.

If you are on any form of welfare, get tax credits, benefit from rent control or are employed by a non-profit or government agency, then you are part of that 47%.

Otherwise, like me, you are part of the 53% who create prosperity rather than consume it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:16 am

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