Ellis Eviction Halted on Ellsworth, But Cesar Chavez Residents Remain on Notice


According to the the San Francisco Rent Board, the number of Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco declined by almost 50% last year. However, the number of for-cause evictions rose by 7%.

Here’s the data from the Rent Board’s 2015 Annual Eviction Report (PDF):


The report also provides this citywide summary:

During the period from March 1,2014 through February 28, 2015, a total of 2,120 eviction notices were filed with the Department. This figure includes 145 notices given due to failure to pay rent, which are not required to be filed with the Department. The number of notices filed with the Department this year represents a 7% increase from last year’s total filings of 1,977. The largest percentage increase was in eviction notices for illegal use of a rental unit, which increased from 42 to 91 notices. Owner/relative move-in eviction notices increased from 273 to 343 notices. Breach of rental agreement notices increased from 607 to 738 notices. Unapproved subtenant eviction notices increased from 17 to 20 notices, and nuisance eviction notices increased from 349 to 401 notices.

Closer to home, Beyond Chron tells the story of some Bernal Heights neighbors on Ellsworth (near Cortland) who were able to successfully resist an attempted Ellis Act eviction :

New owners of 261-261A Ellsworth Street purchased the property in February 6, 2015. Ten days later they served the long-term tenants, including 82 year old Alberto Lopez, with Ellis Act notices of termination.

On March 31, 2015, the Tenants’ attorney, Raquel Fox of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic,  provided formal notice of entitlement to an extension of the notice period based on Alberto Lopez and his wife’s senior ages. On April 19, 2015, the  Landlords’ lawyer told Fox that the new landlords were rescinding the Ellis Act. The communication included a copy of the Request for Rescission of Ellis Act Notices. On April 20, 2015, the Tenants executed the Declaration of Tenants Continued Occupancy.

The quickness of the Lopez victory means it will not join the ranks of other high-profile Ellis Act evictions. But it sends another message that Mayor Lee’s tripling of Ellis eviction defense funding has had a huge impact. These tenant legal victories show that Ellis cases are not a slam dunk, and help slow the current rising tide of such actions.

On Bernal’s north side, Mission Local reports on a large-scale Ellis eviction effort targeting residents of the 12-unit building at 3301 Cesar Chavez (at South Van Ness).

At 3301 Cesar Chavez, tenants in the 12-unit building near South Van Ness received Ellis Act eviction notices in February. “I’ve lived through six different owners of this building,” said Doña Margarita, a senior who has rented in the building for 52 years. “Because of my age, I can’t just live anywhere.”

Beyond Chron reports that the building at 3301 Cesar Chavez is owned by Robert Imhoff, a property-owner with a rather long history of eviction attempts.

Hovering over all of this is the fact that San Francisco added more than 11,000 new residents in 2014 alone, as the City’s population has soared to new all-time highs. San Francisco’s unemployment rate stands at a 15 year low, but we’ve been running a chronic housing deficit since the 1990s. Oh, and San Francisco rents are currently the highest in the nation.

How can we reduce evictions and improve affordability in the long term? More housing please!

PHOTO: 261 Ellsworth via Google Maps.

17 thoughts on “Ellis Eviction Halted on Ellsworth, But Cesar Chavez Residents Remain on Notice

  1. If you take illegal use, breach of rental agreement, unapproved subtenant, nuisance, and habitual late payments out of the equation. I think people would be surprised how few evil owners kicking out their poor tenants there really are.

  2. Evicting elderly folks, really classy. If its a 2 unit place, move in to the unit not occupied by seniors. But more to the point, when you buy your new building, do your due diligence and make sure you understand who you can/cannot evict, etc.

    • The city must develop more government subsidized housing for the elderly. Expecting private owners to shoulder the costs in perpetuity is not realistic.

  3. You can Ellis elderly people. You just have to give them more time. Reading between the lines, the new Ellsworth owners decided that Ellis Act evicting elderly tenants wasn’t for them, so they stopped. What’s wrong with that?

    • What’s wrong with it is that they tried it at all. That baseline greed is hard to stomach or forget. Glad they stopped the process, but I have no interest in getting to know neighbors who enter the neighborhood with such endeavors of greed and privilege.

      • So let me get this straight. It’s not greedy to assume your rental is yours, and not owned by your landlord, but it IS greedy as a landlord to want to live in the dwelling you own?

        Do the elderly tenants have relatives? Perhaps they are being greedy by not offering their parents a place to live.

      • Another Tenant, you don’t know what the new buyers did or didn’t know. This is hardly transparent, to judge. Why not leave it at the fact that they did not Ellis?

  4. my partner and I had the opportunity to buy a house in Glen Park for around $500k in 2011. Seemed like a great deal until we found out that there was a tenant living there with cancer. We could have bought the place and evicted them through OMI eviction but we didn’t – we just found another house and it ended up being a great fit for us.

    I realize this is just one scenario but I really don’t understand why someone would buy a place in order to evict people if profit were not the primary motivation. If the new owners need somewhere to live, and knowing that evictions can take a long time, then why would they risk being homeless?

    • Because there is a serious lack of housing stock on the market. Take some time one weekend and look at how few open houses we have in our neighborhood for that weekend. Next, go to these open houses and note how many people are touring through each open house. Also, note you see the same people touring each open house in our neighborhood. Houses are selling after only being on the market 2 weeks (or less) with 10 to 20 (plus) offers on each house.

      With this market and with the lack of housing stock, people don’t have the luxury of simply choosing another house to try and make their home.

      Why is the buyer the bad guy? Why didn’t the current owner consider his aging tenant with cancer and decide to not list his house for sale?

      • That still doesn’t change the eviction process which can take months. If you have the luxury of being able to wait months to move in to your home, that time can also be spent searching for another one.

        I feel for people trying to buy in this market but it’s not impossible. If the only home in the neighborhood you can afford is the under-priced, tenant-occupied one then you just might have to adjust your expectations as to where you should be looking.

        The seller has every right to sell but that doesn’t mean that the buyer gets to forego having a moral compass.

        Believe me, if the tenant was a healthy 20-something, I would have no qualms about evicting provided I went through the proper channels. The tight housing market as an excuse to do something like this.

      • “I feel for people trying to buy in this market but it’s not impossible. If the only home in the neighborhood you can afford is the under-priced, tenant-occupied one then you just might have to adjust your expectations as to where you should be looking.”

        Even if you qualify for a mortgage and have a down payment that could reasonably cover a house in your neighborhood of choice (lucky you!), it can take over a year of effort and countless failed bids to find a place that’s remotely inhabitable and which won’t be snapped up by flippers – or, if you work at (insert big tech company), then by someone who worked there longer than you. Add to this that some buyers will be trying to do this while facing a rent hike or eviction themselves, and feel considerably more time pressure.

        We were lucky enough to find a place after a very long search that didn’t involve any sort of tenants. But I can completely see why some people would be seriously tempted to give up and just take whatever they can get.

  5. Great that Bwood covered this win for these tenants and the anti-displacement movement. Great that the landlords dropped the Ellis Act eviction – but they only did it after the tenants fought back. And I’m delighted that a few of the commenters are so rich that they can afford SF’s rents, the highest in the nation.

  6. If we didn’t have such crazy laws in SF the rent would be lower.
    I have no issue w/ evictions, when a LL can’t end the lease by any other means that’s the only thing they can do.

  7. Rent control does a great job of distorting SF’s rental market. You have many entitled renters who hang on to their rent controlled unit, because they are getting a great deal from a private landlord. So that severely restricts supply. Plus you have our Bored of Stupidvisors passing asinine rent control laws left and right, many getting thrown out at superior court. So more property owners are jumping on the short term/corporate/vacation rentals, again restricting supply. Plus there are an estimated 10-20,000 rental units being left vacant by choice, as these owners don’t want to deal with restrictive rent control laws.
    And people wonder why rents are so high?

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