Protesters Gather at Google Lawyer’s Apartments

 

 

Jack Halprin, a Google lawyer and now a landlord, stood resolute  at the top of the stairs leading up to the seven-unit building at 812 Guerrero Street where he began Ellis Act evictions against six tenants earlier this year.

“I do not intend to turn this into condos,” he said on Friday at 8:20 a.m.as he let construction workers into the seven-unit Victorian. He declined, however, to talk about his intentions beyond suggesting that he would live in the building. “You can talk to my attorney,” he said before turning  to go inside.

An hour later, many of his tenants who had started the morning with a protest in front of a Google bus at 18th Street and Dolores, marched up Guerrero Street and stood in front of his door. A workman walked down the stairs, but the only evidence of Halprin was an arm that reached out to close a second story door or window.

Halprin declined to respond to an email follow up request for additional comment.

“He is so fake, he had this plan all along,” said Claudia Tirado, one of Halprin’s tenants, a third grade teacher and mother of a small child who has lived in the building for eight years. “He bought it with a partner taking two flats, now he’s taking all seven.”

Evan Wolkenstein, a teacher at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay who is also being evicted from his $1,700 a month one-bedroom apartment, added: “He feels so empowered and he can do what he wants.”

While the tenants don’t believe Halprin will meet with them, they hope that Google or other tech companies might intervene. “We would like to invite tech companies to support a conversation,”  Wolkenstein said. When asked if they had tried to contact Google he said, “We don’t have that kind of access.”

Tirado said things started off  badly  as soon as Halprin bought and moved into the seven-unit building two years ago. First,  Halprin forced one tenant out under owner move-in laws. Then another existing tenant was evicted,  again through the owner move-in process. Halprin told tenants that his domestic partner would be taking over the second unit. That partner, however, never materialized, according to Erin McElroy, an organizer with Eviction Free San Francisco. The affected tenant has since filed a wrongful eviction lawsuit against Halprin.

The remaining six tenants, which includes two teachers, a small child, an artist and a disabled senior, received Ellis Act eviction notifications in February of this year.

“Why doesn’t he buy a regular house, why does he have to take seven units off the rental market,” said a seemingly tearful Tirado, to a crowd gathering on 19th and Dolores in anticipation of blockading a Google bus. “When Jack Halprin moved in two years ago, he saw me and my baby, he knew who he was kicking out.”

Organized by the group Eviction Free Summer, the demonstration moved from 19th and Dolores to the Google bust stop at 18th. The crowd chanted “Tenants Power,” “Jack Halprin out, Tenant’s rights in,” and “San Francisco not for sale.”

Google employees were lined up in front of Dolores Park Café like any other day, but when the Google bus that normally turns at 18th Street went south on Dolores, the employees looked on, surprised and amused, and then quickly got on their phones. One called a dispatcher and presumably found out that the bus would return.

As they waited, one Google employee at the bus stop, who has been living in San Francisco for several years but working at Google for less than a year, said he thought it was “a shame,” about the housing situation in San Francisco but said he didn’t know the details of the Guerrero evictions.

He applauded the recent legislation sponsored by Supervisor David Campos that will require the landlord to pay the difference between an evicted tenant’s old rent and the tenant’s new market rent for a couple of years. “Housing is the main problem here and the city has to do a better job of building middle-income housing,” he said.  “The city’s plan of building market rate housing is clearly not going to work.” (Note: This was corrected. An earlier version mis-quoted the worker who had correctly described the  measure.)

For the protest’s organizers, the case of 812 Guerrero demonstrates the clear link between the tech giant’s presence in San Francisco and the rise in evictions.

“Google is actually evicting people,” said McElroy to the crowd, referring to Halprin. “We’re demanding that Google put pressure on Jack Halprin to rescind these evictions.”

After police officers ushered demonstrators out of the Google bus’ path, the march moved up Guerrero Street towards the house in question. Protest organizers as well Tirado and her fellow tenants moved up the steps of the building and spoke to the crowd through a megaphone.

“I’ve lived here for eight years. This is my home. I love this building and I love the people in it,” said Evan Wolkenstein, a tenant in the building and a teacher at Jewish Community High School. “We had a community where we knew each other…what was once a community of friends has become a piece of property to be traded and sold for money.”

Tirado emerged from her apartment, accompanied by her young son, and held up a portrait of her family to show the crowd.

“I want to stay here, my baby was born here,” Tirado said. “Jack Halprin, you don’t need seven units!”

Reflecting the growing public profile of Eviction Free San Francisco’s campaign, journalists from both local and global news outlets, including an organization from the Netherlands, were on hand to capture the day’s event. Housing rights activists show no signs of slowing down their work, a large-scale protest of the evictions of the city’s teachers is planned for this afternoon, starting at 5 p.m. at 20th and Dolores. Mission Local will have coverage of this event as well.

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52 Comments

  1. pete

    Shotgun filled with rocksalt. Problem solved.

    • two beers

      Do you react to all your inconveniences with violence?

    • Jerry Vandesic

      I don’t think shooting the tenants is a good idea. The process will play out as the law allows, and there is no need for violence.

  2. Old Mission Neighbor

    THIS WAS CLEARLY A MANDATE FROM THE CEO OF GOOGLE

    /sarcasm

  3. Joe Shlabotnik

    Those non-tenants on the stairs, aren’t they trespassing?

    • Jeff

      Ms. Tirado and the rest of the not yet evicted tenants are perfectly free to have their friends come support their rally against their pending evictions.

  4. mission resident

    Anyone notice the police were there ahead of the protesters and didn’t block off the protest from being on private property? If that were my front porch, I’d be dumping water on them..

  5. C. Russo

    Seven families including two teachers evicted. What a sleazy addition to the ‘hood.

  6. marcos

    It says that someone with plenty of money does not care if their building lays fallow for five years. Contrast this with the incessant claims of poverty on behalf of so many landlords.

    • John

      Nobody ever suggested that Halprin was poor. But my point was that Ellis was never designed for people who were poor. It was designed for people who do not want to be landlords in a regime as strict, punitive and repressive as SF.

      The much bigger question here is why do we have local rent laws that drive so many people to the edge of despair so much that they would rather invest money to make their buildings “fallow” than provide homes for folks?

      It takes a stunning level of incompetence and stupidity to pass laws that make the provision of housing so unattractive in a town that desperately needs housing. Why aren’t you angry at the city government for this total lack of prescience, prudence and perception?

      • Michael

        John is completely correct here. The anger and protests are completely misplaced. No one is violating any LAWS here. Whether the Google lawyer is a nasty guy or isn’t a family or senior-friendly human being is besides the point. He was acting within his rights and within the law that the citizens of SF, and presumably some of the protesters, passed via their supervisors and other elected officials. Go protest in front of city hall if you want to make change. Call the news desk at KQED. Call Frontline. But leave people who are acting within the law alone.

        • Zig

          Who said anything about breaking laws other than the second move-in eviction? It is a violation on common decency. This guy is about as scummy as they get and I am moderate in this whole debate.

      • Jeff

        If Halprin doesn’t like the rental ordinances in Sf, maybe he ought not to become a lanlord in SF?

        • Zig

          This guy is a google lawyer. He knew exactly what he could do

        • John

          Zig, I’m sure Halprin knew what he could do. The point is more that he did not know what he would do.

          He could have Ellis’ed on day one but instead did an OMI and (presumably( lived in his building with his tenants for over two years.

          So it is entirely reasonable to assume that this was not his original intent but rather he came to realize over time that the situation was not tenable there.

          When you buy a building with tenants in it, you only have information about the lease and the rent, plus whatever the tenants choose to tell you in an estoppel, assuming they complete one.

          You have no idea what they are like as people. That you only discover over time, and it can make a big difference as to how viable you regard the building, and even more so if you are living there yourself.

          Maybe only a couple of Halprin’s tenants were a problem, but Ellis doesn’t allow you to evict only the bad apples. you have to throw the good tenants out on the street in order to get rid of the bad tenants.

          And “bad” here doesn’t mean those paying a low rent, but rather those who cause the most trouble.

  7. anon

    McElroy lies and MissionLocal just goes ahead and uncritically prints it?

    Google has nothing to do with the eviction. It is a private citizen who just so happens to work for Google. But why let the truth get in the way of a soundbyte, right?

    • I LOVE GLASSES

      Private citizen? What is a public citizen.
      Why would you buy a building that people lived in if you didn’t want people to live in it?
      Easy, if you don’t want to be a landlord, don’t buy something that has people living in it.
      So stupid.

      • poor.ass.millionaire

        Ummm….maybe he wants to turn them into TIC’s. People live in those. Duh.

      • Valenchia

        The phrase private citizen is rather common, it is contrast to a public figure or a public official (for example). I am surprised you haven’t heard of the term before. Or maybe you you can’t imagine that this person actually has rights.

  8. Mehdi

    Heaven forbid someone legally purchase something and legally take possession of it. The questions isn’t whether one party is richer than other but rather whether they are doing anything wrong.

    And only a total moron (and communist) with no understanding of economics would think it should be illegal to evict someone pursuant to a lease. I still fail to see where this lawyer has done anything wrong. Yeah, it sucks when people have to move but that’s what happens when you rent and don’t’ own….you move when the lease is up or when the landlord boots you under a term of the lease. It doesn’t merit a protest and a misguided doesn’t merit an article.

    These people are whiny but, in actuality, they are the ones trying to usurp the law to take dominion over another person’s rightful possessions. God, I hate communists!

    • oh PLEASE

      exactly.

    • nutrisystem

      Mehdi, if Prince Douchebag Halprin wanted a private palace to exercise his “dominion”, he could have bought one and nobody would have complained. There are lots of them available in SF, Los Altos and Beverly Hills.

      But he didn’t. He bought an apartment building. In a working-class area. With actual humans living in it. So then it’s not just about him anymore.

      You’d probably be happier in Texas where everybody hates communists and loves property rights. Why are you here amongst all these dirty free-thinking radicals? Did you just come for a programmer gig?

    • hmmm

      Sit back down, troll. Whining about “whiners.” Give me a break, bud.

  9. Backtotheburbs

    Shocking that someone with the means to buy property anywhere in the Bay Area and world would choose a still mostly working class neighborhood, with the express intent to evict 7 units. That is a failure of character and ethics by any measure.

    What people don’t realize is that as workers are displaced far away, the quality of work and services go down. Not to mention the rightly seething attitudes. The plight of SF is now internationally recognized, and sadly it is an anti model.

    Tech money, do no evil!

    Trying to think of purely positive local tech examples, drawing a blank. Kickstarter is from Brooklyn. Google et al generally are a mixed bag, which sounds like a business strategy.

    • GG

      “My guess is that he bought the building hoping to live peaceably with his tenants, because he chose to OMI just one of them so he could have a home.”

      Just for the benefit of anyone reading John’s comment, that statement is wholly inaccurate (some of the tenants of the building are friends of mine). The story is significantly longer and more complicated, and no, he didn’t OMI “just one” of the units. The landlord has been taking calculated actions that are both immoral and illegal ever since he first bought the building, this is just the most recent.

      It sounds like John is trolling, and I assume most readers of ML will take comments like his with a grain of salt, but just wanted to set the record straight nonetheless.

      • pete

        What has he done that’s illegal?

      • economist

        I never knew that freedom of expression was a just cause for eviction under San Francisco ordinances.

        Thanks also for laying out the process by which interlopers invade existing communities to destroy them for personal gain with a plethora of laws, tactics and financial resources at your disposal.

        May you destroy yourself as all viruses must.

      • I LOVE GLASSES

        JOHN – Wait, how many buildings have you OMI’d after buying?
        How many residences do you need?
        So blame people who are losing their homes and not let them speak up?
        Also, Halprin changed his tune right after the change in law to the condo’ing law/lottery where people could just ‘pay to condo’ their unit instead of waiting for the lottery.
        That’s why he is kicking people out now, plus its a great time to sell.
        Its an investment for him, people’s homes for others.

      • poor.ass.millionaire

        No chance, clueless-glass-lover. A 7 unit bldg COULD/CAN NEVER condo convert in SF. Now way, no how.

        I’m with John here. If the owner wanted all tenants out, he’d have done that upon move in. Also remember, the Bored of Stupidvisors, and Crapos in particular was pushing for more expensive Ellis act pay outs. No wonder he pulled the trigger when he did.

      • economist

        You have absolutely no idea about Halprin’s thoughts or motivations. You are just speculating in order to justify yours and his anti-social eviction activities.

        How many apartments have you conveniently moved into in order to get rid of human impediments to your drive for money? I remember reading your claim that you have only evicted two people, but just your recent bragging about your economic and legal power to try to command obedience to your sick dictates add up to many more than that.

        You’ve revealed a lot of information about your property ownership history on these comment pages. Maybe an intrepid investigator will uncover your true identity.

      • economist

        The above comment addresses “John,” not “poor.ass.millionaire.” Either website or user error in comment placement.

      • poor.ass.millionaire

        John- technical correction. Existing bldgs were always a max of 6 units for condo conversion. It’s 5-6 unit bldgs that needed the state participation. Maybe that bldg you saw was 6 units and an illegal unit was removed.

        Now condo conv is banned for 10-12 years (except 2 unit owner occupied), and when the lottery returns, the max will be 4 units.

    • pete

      Many tech firms give a lot to charity. Google just gave 6.8 mil to SF. How much do you give?

      • Backtotheburbs

        I think you mean Benioff, but he donates as a private individual. Who else?

        Do you donate? Probably if you did that would be in your post. I support locally what I can, which is much less than I would like. Did you know that SF after school programs are mostly funded by parents? And I pay lots of taxes. Which apparently are going towards infrastructure like roads and bus stops which I don’t use, yet clearly others benefit and feel entitled.

        Google gave MUNI money for a youth program, but very ironically those very youth in need of free transportation are being displaced from this city. Where is the logic there? Not to mention that the sum in context is a pittance and only materialized after months of directed protest and media focus. Essentially it’s a form of payoff to save face.

        If you’re serious, let’s have a discussion about corporate taxes. Offshore havens, Nevada subsidiaries ring any bells? Everyones doing it right? How about the expected paycuts for employees after taxes are paid in full as well as locally?

  10. jacksboy

    Jack is a good guy. He means no harm here. Just some people needed to get out of the way so he could build his own new google datacenter for his new project.

  11. oh PLEASE

    We live in a capitalist society, this is how it works. Property IS “something that is bought and sold for money”. How is this evil? Ellis act is last resort in SF for those who want a say in the properties that they own, and in the US, no one can be made to rent their property. Rent control already is already subsidized housing, provided solely by private property owners. RENT CONTROL is the problem in a capitalist system. Protests are not the solution.

    I’m sure that none of those protesters use google, twitter, facebook, or any other number of completely free and useful internet services, because that would be hypocritical, no?

  12. Tracy

    “He feels so empowered and he can do what he wants.” Yes, he can. He owns the building and paid $1.475 million that he earned for it. Why would his employer intervene and stop him from using the property that he owns in the way that he chooses to use it? Instead of harassing people who are creating value in the world, why don’t you go and protest the city’s restrictive policies that keep housing supply far too low for demand? On top of that, Jack has been a lawyer for many years and had actually only been at Google for a fairly short time before he bought this building. Undoubtedly much of the money that he amassed to be able to afford this purchase was created in his 20 years of work since graduating from law school, not just from Google.

  13. tx

    I wonder if they would appreciate the same being done to them.

    It’s time to doxx the protestors. If you dish it out, you have to be able to receive it.

  14. South of Bernal

    I doubt I’m in Mr. Halprin’s tax bracket, but I’m lucky enough to have my own house in San Francisco, and have thought of investing in real estate. I probably could talk shop with him.

    I’ll bet he’s making more of a mistake than he knows. He couldn’t have swung a deal on a property like 812 Guerrero if he weren’t already a rich man, and I’m sure he has plenty of years ahead as a top dollar corporate attorney. He doesn’t need to inflict this kind of harm on his middle class tenants.

    Jack Halprin, do you really think it’s worth it? Let’s say you win, evict the tenants, deal with the bad press and eventually have your way with 812 Guerrero. Do you believe that you’ll ever forget that you evicted all these folks to achieve that goal? This is going to be catastrophic for some of them. You will be costing them the San Francisco lives they love; some will remember this as the worst news of a decade.

    There are so, so many other avenues for investment. Why choose one that will be so tough to explain to friends, relatives, associates at work, and to your own conscience?

    I should add that all I know of this case is what I have read in articles like this one, that some tenants may have behaved badly, _and_ that I suspect San Francisco makes it too difficult to evict nightmare tenants.

    Mr. Halprin, please explain your side of this, if you feel you haven’t gotten a fair shake in the press. Otherwise — for your own sake, really and truly, over the long haul — please reconsider this decision. You may sleep a lot more soundly.

    • poor.ass.millionaire

      Hey, what’s up guilty-liberal-investor. I’m quite sure that at least a few of the tenants were giving him a hard time. Tip #1 from a pro SF investor. NEVER live in a bldg with legacy tenants, only with new tenants that you hand pick. Not. Worth. It.

  15. nutrisystem

    Wow, this Halprin guy is a perfect Poster Boy of what to hate about the Tech douchebag invasion.

    Not only is he a member of the world’s sleaziest profession, but he slings for the world’s creepiest surveillance/advertising corporation. He’s probably an expert at complex tax dodging schemes or barely-legal stealing of copyrighted material or some such grossness.

    Not satisfied with that pedigree, he decides to live in 7 apartments instead of just buying a house, because, well, he’s Prince Douchebag and can do whatever he wants.

  16. knights-tale

    I too am a public school teacher, but used to be an accountant for a media/advertising agency. I’ve seen both sides of the tech divide. Tech workers are routinely rewarded for their monomania just by the nature of their work. Many sit in front of a computer all day or with a very small cadre of bro-friends and are insulated from the world. It does not occur to them that others have feelings.

    Google and Yahoo and the rest reward ruthlessness and misanthropy. And we as a culture idolize the entrepreneur over the mother and over the school teacher.

    Halprin was certainly within his legal rights to buy a building and evict everyone. But if he’s the only one living in it, was it his moral right? I don’t think so. If to some of the trolls on here that makes me a communist or whiner so be it. But at least I have a sense of humanity and know that just because I can legally do something doesn’t mean I should.

    • poor.ass.millionaire

      I appreciate your sensitivities, but for the record I doubt he’s going to live in the bldg alone. He’ll probably convert them to TIC’s to sell to other (probably) tech people. Hey, maybe he should be applauded for being a housing (transfer) provider :)

  17. poor.ass.millionaire

    That Erin McElroy chick is a total fraud! I like her two bit attempt to implicate google with what one of its employees does with his private property. The guy could have worked at a non profit too.

    She sounds like a privileged-hypocritical-angry-little-women. Have fun with your life making a fool out of yourself. Shees.

  18. Zig

    I’m generally moderate about this issue although I find it sad what has happened to San Francisco. This guy sounds like a real scumbag which is not that surprising since he is a corporate lawyer. I hope there is more public shaming. I’d love to tell him to his face.

  19. Graham

    You know, if I got to live in San Francisco, I’d be thrilled. I’ve dreamed for decades of getting a chance to live there, and work there. Getting a chance to own a place that shelters not just people but a community of amazing folks like that would be an absolute honour.

    Jack Halprin – has money displaced love and good company in your search of needs? You obviously want to live in San Francisco – do you think San Francisco was made great through a process of destroying communities, or a process of creating communities? San Francisco was once empty land; it exists today as a creation of the many peoples that have called it home and made something from little or nothing. Its appeal is the result of a continual process of creation over hundreds of years. By kicking people out you’re destroying part of that process of creation, you’re creating a dead zone of community in the building where once it was thriving; whether morally or philosophically… I find that an inadequate reason to do what you are doing.

  20. Old Poor Richard

    Looks like he’s taking a house that had been subdivided into eight tiny units and restoring it to its original condition as a single family home. Can’t figure out what’s objectionable about that.

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