Things getting ugly between developers and tenant activists?

From “AMinSF”:

1298treat.jpgTwo weekends ago I visited an open house tic unit at 1298 Treat Street in the Mission. It’s a very contentious situation. The developer is trying to Ellis Act several elderly tenants, and some family members and tenant groups were peacefully protesting outside the open house.

I drove by the building this morning on my way to a meeting, and I saw that the building was scorched! It certainly looked suspiciously like arson, and the report [here] suggests the same.

I think that this is an unfortunate situation that we sometimes have in SF. On one hand the developer wants to maximize his property’s value by converting to tic’s. But on the other hand, evicting seniors in their 80’s or 90’s is morally reprehensible. I’m totally for property rights, as I own several buildings in the city, and am actively involved in their development, but i must say that I had sympathy for the tenants in this situation, and spent time talking to them and the tenant activists who were there that day.

I just don’t know what led to this case of possible arson. I highly doubt any of the people I met that day were involved. Could it be some silent angry activist, who wants to use destruction as a way to get back at ‘the system?’ I remember a similar case last year on 23rd street, between Treat and Folsom (across the park), where there was some violence. These immature and illegal acts certainly do not help the people adversely affected by the evictions. It is so asinine to act as a spoiler with these types of destruction. And it certainly fans the flame (no pun intended) of animosity between property owners/developers and tenants.

It’s too bad this city cannot collectively get it’s act together and find ways to mitigate the housing problems that we have. What’s next, drive by shootings at open houses? [We hope not!]

-Arson suspected in San Francisco Fire [KTVU]

-1298 Treat Street [sfnewsletter listing detail page]

12 thoughts on “Things getting ugly between developers and tenant activists?”

  1. this is so sad. i guess they figured they were getting kicked out anyways, might as well burn it down. i hope they put that person in jail.

  2. Wow. Really stupid. But really not all that surprising. Seems a cut nose /spite face situation. I’m sure the owner would have preferred the arson about 13 months earlier!

  3. When objects (houses, real estate) become more important than people, should anyone be surprised when objects get destroyed? Arson is inexcusable and a danger to life and property.

    That said…

    There are costs to evicting people. Karmic, maybe, but still real. I feel bad that this person’s investment has been damaged. I feel very bad that the health and well-being of infirm long-time residents was damaged.

    What a mess.

    The only thing that solves this is something radical: distributing housing on some other basis than simply the size of your wallet. how you do that, well who the hell knows. But shouldn’t their health count for something? Their contributions to the neighborhood?

  4. actually, how could anybody assume if the arson was more likely “on the behalf” of the renters vs the owner?

    arson does arm both renter and owner, and arson benefit both owner and renter depending on insurance, relocation laws, pending lawsuit etc.

    That’s why renter AND owner should have a fire insurance on the building.

    I wouldnt take any side, but that of the PROPERTY. It’s criminal to damage such a building in the city – by neglect (some owners), by trashing (some renters), by arson (god knows who did it), or by flatening the lot (some developer, or city new streets or whatever).

    let’s hope the story will end “reasonably”.

  5. Who cares about how old they are. Age, Race and Religion are not the issue we need to focus on.

    Why did those OLD people never prepare for their own retirement or move to a place that they can afford. I am sick and tired of all those who can’t afford to live in SF bitching about how they DESERVE to be here. Listen you commies, we don’t live in a communist country. Here in America, we have a system where if you work and save and live where you can afford a retirement, you can actually have a life that you can respect.

    If those commies here in the city continue to whine and think the world owe them, guess that… there are more right wing libertarians coming from all over the world to Silicon Valley & SF. We plan on changing things here.

    The weak will perish and the strong will survive. That is the way it is. Don’t pitty the weak, the world is not a fair place. If you don’t like it, go kill yourself.

  6. Agree with most of what dotcomer said (except the last part). As a renter you should not have superior rights to something you don’t even OWN. Pretty sure the Supreme Court takes this viewpoint as well. Living in SF is NOT a civil or basic human right. There are plenty of other places in the US that would be more appropriate for people’s budgets than SF.

  7. dotcomer you’re missing the point. Maybe willfully, who knows.

    And, calling me a commie is juvenile and ill informed. And that little Ayn Rand rant at the end… juvenile, ill-informed and mean spirited. The world might not be fair; but you can be. It’s more fun that way actually. And dogs will stop growling at you in the park if you start playing fair.

    IF you think that a city and a community is best served when wealth is the determinant of who gets to join that community, then age, race and religion are not important to you. But thankfully, you aren’t the only one who gets to decide. This isn’t a communist country but it is a democracy. Markets are only as useful as the good results they create. I repeat, markets are a tool we use to achieve optimal ends a efficiently as possible. There is nothing intrinsically good about a market. And markets are notoriously bad at determining whether an end is a good one or not.

    Read Adam Smith if you don’t believe me.

    I was asserting that your neighbor being rich doesn’t make him a good neighbor. Can we agree on that? Rich does not automatically equal good or civil anymore than poor equals good or civil.

    If you want o build a community, you want to fill it with creative, interesting people. Not all of those kinds of people are rich. When you buy the free market fundamentalists assertion that whatever happens in a market is the best possible outcome, grab your wallet. You’re being conned.

    The market was designed by people to achieve an end. There is no such ting as a natural market. (viz. Smith again)

    And not one of those old folks who moved into their crappy apartment in the Mission 30 years go when this city was a run down old dump shedding residents played any part in making it one of the most expensive places in the country to live. How exactly are you suggesting they should have “planned” for a several hundred percent increase in housing costs? What exactly didn’t they plan right?

  8. i was serious radio, and maybe you should answer this question in your reply. i am already paying 35% of my agi to the feds, 9.3% to sacramento and 22k per year in property tax. this doesn’t count the 1k’s i give to worthy charities every year like delancy street, la casa de madres, spca, susan b coleman, leukemia society, etc. what are you doing to help fund these social programs?

  9. I think landlords with protected tenants who get outrageously submarket rents should be able to retroactively apply section 8 status to the tenants in question. Why should individual landlords have to shoulder this burden? Section 8 requires that the apartments be in good shape. So slumlords would need to get their acts together. After the apartment has been duly inspected, Section 8 allows for a market rent to be charged, of which the tenant is only required to pay a portion. The government pays the rest. As of right now, government saddles landlords with this unfair burden anyway. This would be a fair solution to the protected tenant problem.

  10. Kenny – That may be a workable solution but should only be applied upon transfer of the property and resulting revaluation for tax purposes. A lot of long-term tenants rent from long-time owners who pay less than market property taxes, also. If the government is going to subsidize rents at fair market value, it should be provided the tax benefit also. “Unfair burden” is relative and hasn’t stopped owners of rental properties – including this one based on a quick glance at PropertyShark – from buying and selling at a profit.

    James – Glad that you’re able to contribute to charities. I don’t think radio is asking you to do anything additional. Rather, I think the point is what people should *not* do. I’m with AMin on this one – tossing long-time tenants in their 80’s and 90’s to the street to flip a property is morally reprehensible. Surely the owner knew what he was getting into when he bought. Whoever torched this place should go to prison for a long time. Yet, it is hard to feel sorry for the *trust* that owns this place.

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