San Francisco intercedes in mid-Market eviction fight 

click to enlarge 1049 Market St.
  • Evan DuCharme/S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Resident Ben Cady stands in front of 1049 Market St., where the landlord is trying to remove scores of tenants from their lofts. The City has suspended the site’s conversion to an office building.
The City has halted renovation work at a mid-Market Street building that houses dozens of tenants who have received eviction notices in an “unprecedented intervention” that nonetheless may not stop their exodus.

Tenants at 1049 Market St. — a building zoned for commercial use that houses dozens of artists in spaces dubbed “office lofts” — began receiving 60-day eviction notices in September from the landlord, a property group that secured permits in order to convert the lofts into office space.

The conversion work was necessary to fix an earlier violation notice issued by the Building Inspection Department, which noted the property is not supposed to house residents.

After an outcry over what could be one of the biggest evictions in San Francisco history — coupled with a citywide “affordability crisis” that has put living space out of reach for many — The City suspended that building permit in a Thursday letter, officials announced Friday.

No one, including the landlord and activists, knows how many people live in the building, but it could be upward of 60 in 40 units. About 20 have already accepted relocation checks and moved out.

Though the conversion to office space is on indefinite hold, all eviction notices are still active and several floors of the building are already vacant.

However, the delay is a “victory, no matter what the [eventual] outcome,” said Tommi Avicolli Mecca, an organizer with the Housing Rights Committee who has worked on behalf of the tenants to keep them in their homes.

“We’ve gotten The City to respond in a way that it’s never responded before to an eviction,” he said. “This is City Hall realizing it has a PR problem on its hands and that it’s got to do something.”

John Gall, a Stanford University-educated former Major League Baseball player who is one of the partners in 1049 Market St., told The San Francisco Examiner last month that converting the office lofts into legal living space would require extensive modifications that are not economically feasible.

On Friday, Gall said he and his partners are “still trying to figure out the situation” and are unsure how to proceed.

“We get new information daily,” said Gall, whose group owns two other buildings on the same block.

Gentrification and skyrocketing prices for residential and commercial property are hot-button issues in San Francisco as a tech-company-fueled economic boom continues.

San Francisco’s long-blighted mid-Market area has seen a rapid renaissance since Twitter — now preparing for a lucrative IPO at an estimated market value of more than $20 billion — was enticed by a tax break to move into a long-vacant building at 1355 Market St.

Longtime mid-Market tenants, including community-serving nonprofits, have been edged out thanks to a market for office space that’s increased from $39.67 per square foot to almost $51 per square foot in the past two years, said area Supervisor Jane Kim.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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