Mid-Market landlord appeals as tenants face holiday evictions

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1049 Market st. tenant Marcele Wilson speaks to the crowd
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Tenants fighting evictions from their 1049 Market home suffered a major setback this week as their landlords filed an appeal that may clear the way for conversion of their apartments into an office space. 

The landlords want to knock down the walls of the now-apartment building to reap the benefits of the tech loving Mid-Market area, and will make their case to do so at the Board of Appeals on Wednesday, Dec/18, according to appeal documents. 

At a press conference for the tenants today held on Market, tenant Marcele Wilson said that there are many people still living in the building despite the eviction notices. There are around 60 units in the building, but it is unclear how many are still occupied. But those remaining may lose their homes this winter, Wilson said.

“What kind of human being evicts people during the holidays?” he asked the crowd. The tenants have yet to see any eviction notices rescinded. 

The landlords, John Gall and Amy Bogart, didn’t return calls or emails from the Guardian. 

The tenants first received their eviction notices in September, which became highly politicized because San Francisco suffered an exodus of the working class, families, and artists as rental prices continue to surge. But the building was never up to code for rental units and was zoned as an office space. 

When that was revealed the Department of Building Inspection moved swiftly to work with Gall to bring the building up to code to stave off the evictions, but a DBI official told the Guardian that Gall quickly begged off. They haven’t heard from him since early October.

“The way this works is the owner would come in with an architect or a designer so they could talk about what part of the building code needed to be addressed,” William Strawn, a spokesperson from DBI told us. Officials offered to meet with Gall on Oct. 11 in order to clarify what needed to change in the building to make it safer for residents -- like having access to light and air.  

“We haven’t heard from him since making that offer,” Strawn said.

Though in other coverage Gall told reporters the cost for making modifications were extensive, a Planning Department official told the Guardian that there were less expensive alternatives.

"The owners had a variety of options available to them," said Dan Sider, senior adviser for special projects at the Planning Department.

April Veneracion Ang, an aide to Sup. Jane Kim, said that Kim’s office had been working with Gall, but hadn’t heard word on if he’d rescind the evictions yet. 

Despite his silence, Gall has been hard at work to remove the tenants from the building. The eviction notices came in waves, and he continued to issue them through all of these negotiations, Sara Shortt of the Housing Rights Committee told us. 

But on Oct. 28, the Planning Department suspended Gall’s application to turn the building into office space, writing that the building had been used as a residence in violation of planning codes for quite some time. The suspension was a win for the tenants and housing activists.

It was that suspension that Gall appealed to overturn on Nov. 8. 

In his appeal, Gall wrote that the suspension of the permit for office space was “arbitrary and capricious” and not consistent with the “plain language” of the planning code. He also said he spent over $120,000 in relocation fees for tenants. 

Tenants at the rally told us they were given checks by their landlord to move on and find new places to live, but in a story that is exceedingly familiar, it didn’t help a bit.

Many couldn’t afford to live in San Francisco if evicted, they said. 

“I can take that $5,000 and not get anywhere in the city,” said Jonathan Stoker, 47, a three-year resident. A former server who injured his arm waiting tables on Hornblower cruises, he’s now a freelance graphic designer looking for a new job, a tall order, he said. If evicted, he was certain he’d have to leave the city. 

“[Living in San Francisco] was my dream. People are engaged here, they’re creative, they’re thinkers,” he said. “I’d probably end up in Oakland in a basement somewhere, but even that’s going fast.”

The rents at 1049 Market range between $900 and $1,200 a month, the tenants told the Guardian. 

Inside the building after the press conference, some tenants gathered around inside an ornate red-hued apartment belonging to Peter Taylor, 70. 

Glasses of wine in hand, Taylor, Stoker, and another neighbor from down the hall traded tales of the sordid ways they’ve been pressured to leave the building in the past month. 

Their security guards were let go, Tony Antori, 40, said. The property is across from Civic Center, a hub of suffering souls who’ve now been making their way into the building and some of them  “have been living in our bathrooms now,” Antori told the Guardian, to nods from his neighbors. “A guy was found with his pants down and a hypodermic needle in his arm.”

ToniAntoni

Tony Antori in his apartment in October. Photo by Bay Guardian News Editor Rebecca Bowe. 

Stoker said that they’ve also been losing hot water periodically, forcing them all to shower in the cold or go without. Antori said the YMCA has been a savior for hot showers. 

Taylor sees this all as a sign that Gall is ready to play hardball, no pun intended, as the now-landlord was a former Major League Baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals.

“This is the king of guy this is,” Taylor said. He felt in his bones that his landlord wouldn’t back down easy. 

The tenants will find out for sure on Dec. 18, when Gall makes his case to turn the apartments into offices at the Board of Appeals. Until then, they fight, hoping they’ll keep their homes for the holidays, and longer. 

Comments

Yeah they have the rights to do that because it is good for them. Hexder Superman

Posted by brad powell on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

that the landlords purposely gamed this from the beginning

Posted by hdhgkj on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:10 am

illegally then it is official city policy that you stop the illegal use. The Rent Ordinance has a specific clause that allows for eviction where the unit is illegal.

So the owner here played by all the rules, only to find that the city tried to game the rules for purely political reasons.

The owner is blameless here and I suspect he will prevail in court.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:20 am

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 deceptions, 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 buifsih on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:48 am

by the rules the city gave him, only to find himself a victim of political interference.

I hope he prevails.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:47 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

most tenants have not cashed the checks. if this can happen to me... it can happen to you. and i really hope it doesn't. It really sucks to lose your home and forced out of the city you love. and 5200 dollars is will not cover how much my life is going to change if i have to leave city. i don't want the money. i want to keep my home. thank you.

Posted by guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:38 am

live in a building with no air or light that I know isn't to code and is therefore illegal.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 7:22 am

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 deceptions, 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 kksjhfk on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:32 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:22 am

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 deceptions, 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 kksjhfk on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:33 am

No, it can't happen the me bacuse my name is on the DEED…..

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:53 am

says it right here in black and white: Turd Guzzler. That's me. On the DEED.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

Sounds like a new welfare program, they were given 3 months to leave. That is plenty of time. I hope they are still paying their rent to the owner.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

lawsuit as doing so can invalidate the proceeding and then they have to start over.

However, any unpaid rent is then worked back into the final judgment and, if the tenant leaves without paying it, that is his or her credit record shot.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

The landlord shouldn't have bought the building so recently - just a few years ago - if he didn't plan on owning a building with tenants in it. The reality is he probably bought the building in order to "flip it" all along, and is using the building codes as an excuse...

Making money in a way that nakedly harms others is wrong, and this is a perfect example of that. I hope that John Gall and his seeming Ayn Randian-inspired philosophy get a visit from some ghosts this holiday season.

Posted by TenderloinPride on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:06 am

if you buy a building with illegal rental units in it, is to come clean with the city and declare those units illegal. That has always been the city's position and this owner complied with that directive.

And it is only because there are quite a few units here that the issue became politicized with the city making an arbitrary, capricious decision to waive the rules that the rest of us are forced to comply with.

If 8-Wash doesn't get built because it is not to code, then these units have to go as well.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 7:25 am

In your scenario, a landlord can knowingly buy a building with illegal apartment units, profit off of the illegal units for years, come "clean" with the city when the commercial real estate market gets hot again, and then evict all of his tenants because the cost of renovations is just "too high!" That is exactly what's happening here - a landlord is working the system and trying to make additional profits off people he's already been receiving rent from for years.

As a law student, I would say that an agency's decision in a particular adjudication is hardly "arbitrary and capricious" when the Department of Building Inspection is *specifically granted* the ability to grant such waivers in the code, and where the public interest here demands it. You apparently want tenants to have to comply with the law when it benefits landlords, but don't have a problem with the fact that the landlord broke the law for years, scot-free.

Posted by TenderloinPride on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:55 am

"What do you call 1000 law students buried up to their necks in debt? Not enough debt."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:24 am

"What do you call 1000 law students buried up to their necks in debt? Not enough debt."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:24 am

"What do you call 1000 law students buried up to their necks in debt? Not enough debt."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:25 am

specific behest of a couple of politicians, and when it directly contradicts all their other decisions, then it stinks and I'd expect the courts to bounce this.

Let me know when you graduate law school.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:39 am

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 deceptions, 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 kksj on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:50 am

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 deceptions, 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 kksj on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:49 am

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 deceptions, 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 kksjh on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:40 am

See, there's the problem right there. Stoker dreams of living in a place he knows he cannot afford, and thinks that somebody else should pay so that he can fulfill his dream. But why?

And to employ the always effective "Aspen Argument", I have a dream that I'd like to live in a 12-room ski lodge in Aspen. But since I know I cannot afford that, I don't expect to do that, and I certainly don't expect someone else to take a pay cut so that I can.

As a taxpayer of this city, I need Twitter to be here a lot more than I need Stoker who, I feel sure, would be happier in Oakland where his meager income can probably get him a place he can actually sustain by his own efforts, rather than relying on the kindness of strangers and the generosity of his landlord.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 7:29 am

Wow obviously you need twitter & a lot more than that. Stoker isn't asking to live for free in his home he's been paying for. Maybe someone Luke you should be the one leaving the city & the Bay Area. Just because you're one of the many tax payers here doesn't disregard the common decency as a human being. I hope you day you fall victom to having no place to live. This mentality is what's distributing our beloved city. Stoker is actually living his dream & you confirm him for doing so, making obscene assumptions that he's not paying for his current lifestyle & therefore should be kicked to the curb. Tech much?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:51 am

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 deceptions, 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 khjkiui on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:30 am

I don't blame him for that as everyone would try and do that if they could, but that doesn't mean it is sound public policy to hand out subsides to everyone who has a "dream" but no evident way of funding it.

Stoker will have to move a few miles. He will survive with his dream more or less intact. Just not on my dime.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:41 am

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 deceptions, 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 khjkiui on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:30 am

probably isn't the best place to use as a comparison seeing as how it's a sparsely populated ski resort town that's been a wealthy enclave for quite a long time whereas San Francisco is one of the most densely populated cities in the U.S. that's had large numbers of lower to middle class folks living in it for decades.

I also pay taxes in this town, and find it troublesome that an unprofitable business like Twitter receives subsidies via tax breaks while profitable companies in other industries get taxed to death.

Posted by Yo on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

Aspen is the new Nazi. Mentioning Aspen should be the new Godwin's Law around here.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:38 am

It proves that a town can be 100% wealthy and still function perfectly well. Indeed, Aspen has super-low crime and great services.

There are of course lots of lower-paid service workers there, and they successfully live outside of aspen, in much the same way as lower-paid service workers who work in SF can BART into work.

If you hear an argument used a lot, it's probably because nobody can refute it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:06 am

doesn't work at all because comparing Aspen to San Francisco isn't a valid comparison.

Aspen is a remote ski resort with about 6,600 people living there. San Francisco is a densely populated major city with around 777,000 residents. Of course Aspen has low crime rates, they have a small, homogenized population. It's a completely different place geographically, demographically, and historically.

This argument would work better if the basis of comparison was a city that had a similar sized population (Austin, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Columbus). The problem with that is all of those cities have large numbers of middle to lower class residents.

My 7 year niece uses the same arguments a lot but that doesn't mean it's because nobody can refute her assertions.

Posted by Yo on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:49 am

"My 7 year niece uses the same arguments a lot but that doesn't mean it's because nobody can refute her assertions."

'nuff said.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:57 am

unable to refute the Aspen argument?

Nor to explain to me why poorer San Franciscans cannot live 10 minutes away in Oakland?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:10 am

to refute it for the 117th time?

Posted by Greg on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 9:30 am

Trick question really, because you know and I know that you haven't IOW you are lying.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 9:39 am

I refuted your silly argument several times.

Posted by Yo on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 9:50 am

Oakland is 10 minutes away on BART. What does it matter if a low-income worker lives in SF or 10 minutes away?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:04 am

that living in Oakland is like a living death, surrounded by crazed zombies.

They fail to see the Bay Area as one big conurbation, and so become blinkered on just one part of it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:17 am

away once you're on the train and in the transbay tube. This is assuming you're leaving from 19th St, 12th St, or West Oakland. Of course, not everyone leaves near those stations so you have to factor in folks who live near farther out stations and those who have to commute just to get to the first three stations I mentioned.

So,this isn't a matter of a simple 10 minute commute.

What does it matter? I would say living in the city you work in and have called home for 10+ years matters a great deal to a lot of people. I realize that's a hard concept for you to grasp since you've displayed the emotional intelligence of a robot thus far.

Posted by Yo on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:20 am

many vacant homes and available land. And that is just 7 minutes from Embracadero station or SOMA via the Willie Brown bridge.

While commuting to the train or bus stop is something you have to do wherever you live - it's not special to Oakland.

As for you living in SF, I have no problem with that as long as you are willing to pay your way. But if you expect somebody else to help you ;live here (taxpayer, landlord, the city etc) then I have a problem. Why? Because I do not see what the city gains from you being here just because you happen to think it's cool to be here.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:31 am

has significant crime problems, poor public services, and isn't a good place to live yet in general. Good luck convincing displaced folks that it's a great place for them to live solely based on the fact that it's close to SF.

A lot of the lower income people you love to criticize have been paying their way in SF just fine for quite a long time. The majority of them are living in SF for reasons that have nothing to do with simply being "Cool". Those reasons include: family, jobs, being able to get around without a car, and health. Characterizing everyone in these income brackets as failed artists or other delusional types is completely incorrect.

Any landlord that buys rent controlled property in this City knows perfectly well what the current realities are. I have no sympathy whatsover for those that are unable to handle it. If you have a problem with the way the current laws are structured, then you should pool resources together with other disgruntled wealthy people and get the laws changed. Until then, deal with it.

Posted by Yo on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:08 am

That's why it's cheaper in the first place!

Good God, man, don't you know how these thing work? The best places have the highest prices. The worst places have the lowest prices. Then we work hard to try and live in the best possible place. That's how we make progress in life.

As for you having been in SF for a long time, so what? What have you done for the taxpayer recently? Nothing? OK then, you don't get subsides to stick around on someone else's dime when you could be just 10 minutes away and fully fund yourself.

The affordable housing issue is much more than just being about rent control which, in any event, an owner can avoid via Ellis. It's about supply and demand, and how reasonable it is for poor people to live as if they were rich.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

You have no idea what my current situation is. Nice try though. You are absolutely delusional if you think you have any authority (morally, monetarily, or otherwise) to dictate to me where and how I should live.

Please.

I don't require lessons in supply and demand from the likes of you. I'm in favor of developers building more residential units in SF to address the supply issues. I haven't seen you advocate for that at all. Instead, you seem to be fixated on denigrating folks in lower income brackets and making laughable comparisons between the Bay Area and a small town in the Colorado Rocky Montains.

Also, it's not clear that you've done anything for taxpayers. Being a troll on progressive-leaning comment boards doesn't count as productive economic activity by the way.

Posted by Yo on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

For the record, yes, I think we need to build massive new supply, both for the rental and owner-occupier markets. Then we could dismantle rent control which rewards inertia and deters social and economic mobility.

Then, we need to plan housing at the Bay Area level. It makes little sense for SF and Berkeley to have rent control and the rest of the BA not to. Better to scrap it everywhere and build more.

I'm not anti-poor but I do not think we should subsidize someone just because they want to live in a place they cannot afford. Reserve assistance to the genuine poor and not the "loser lifer" type that we see all too often in SF with their sense of entitlement to be here.

Finally, re taxes, I have probably paid more taxes in my life than you have earned. I owe nobody anything and have more than carried my weight.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

Your first two paragraphs are great. They outline a few policies that could actually help the Bay Area deal with changing economic realities.

Unfortunately, your last two paragraphs consist of your usual disrespect for the working class and misinformed assumptions about how other people are leading their lives.

You mention not wanting to subsidize someone just because they wish to live in a place they cannot afford and then in the next sentence state you think assistance should be reserved for the genuine poor. So are you in favor of subsidies or not? FYI genuinely poor people also fall under the category of "wanting to live in a place they cannot afford on their own". I suppose you think of yourself as arbiter of who qualifies as the "deserving poor" and who doesn't. Guess what? You're not.

I have no way of verifying if you have actually paid more taxes than I have earned nor do I really care. Congratulations on doing what productive members of this society should be doing.

Posted by Yo on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

and that doesn't help anyone.

We can help the poor without helping everyone based only on the fact that they snagged a cheap deal and want to hoard forever.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

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