Eleven San Francisco tenants have sued to head off eviction from their live-work loft units in an 83-unit mid-Market Street building. (The suit is embedded at the end of this post.)
The suit filed earlier this week in San Francisco Superior Court is the the latest round in a high-profile battle between the tenants — mainly artists and residents living on fixed incomes — and the landlords of 1049 Market St. The specific allegations in the suit include breach of implied warranty of habitability, tenant harassment, wrongful attempt to recover possession of a rental unit, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment.
Beyond those technical charges, the lawsuit contends that the landlords, including Stanford alum and former professional baseball player John Gall, want the tenants out to take advantage of rising property values in the mid-Market area.
Gall has disputed those charges as well as allegations that the landlords have let the building fall into disrepair to get tenants out.
Here’s a slice of the conflict’s history from a report by KQED’s Bryan Goebel in November:
The seven-story building, built in 1907 as a furniture store, is zoned for commercial use. The owners had been trying to bring the units up to code for residential use.
Landlords say city rules have forced them to evict tenants. The city and housing activists insist that’s not the case.
“It has long been our belief that this was achievable and we would be able to keep this unique and affordable community,” stated a Sept. 13 memo to tenants from the landlord. But it went on to inform them that “we were not able to overcome the city of San Francisco’s overly restrictive building code requirements.”
“Per these city orders, the building must currently be vacated,” the memo said.
The owners obtained permits to convert the building into offices and began issuing eviction orders in late September. Tenants quickly organized, and got housing activists involved. They persuaded Mayor Lee, Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the neighborhood, and the Department of Building Inspection to intervene. The city subsequently withdrew the permits and offered to work with Gall and his partners to grandfather in residential code violations, namely units that don’t have windows.