About 20 protesters rallied Thursday afternoon against Kaushnik Dattani for using the Ellis Act to evict 28-year resident Patricia Kerman and her roommate, 15-year resident Tom Rapp.
The protest started at Dattani and Company’s offices on 22nd Street around 2 p.m. and ended at the 24th Street BART Station at 4 p.m.
The protesters held picket signs saying “Kaushnik Dattani. Serial Evictor!” and “Evict Greed From Your Heart!” Together, they chanted “Dattani Stop, Eviction Stop.”
The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project has listed Dattani, who could not be reached for comment, on its list of “Dirty Dozen” list of serial evictors. Dattani, the project says on its website, is responsible for evicting tenants at 25 buildings in San Francisco including Kerman’s building at 20th and Folsom streets.
“We want to raise awareness because he’s doing this all over the Mission,” said Kerman, who has lived in San Francisco for almost four decades. “He’s just one of many people. Speculators are coming in here with millions and millions of dollars….and get realtors to buy up property for them.”
The eviction order was served in August 2013, and because Kerman is a disabled senior, she has a year—until August 27—to move. Like her neighbors, Dattani offered Kerman a cash incentive to leave earlier, but she rejected it.
“I wouldn’t take a buyout,” Kerman said. “I want a roof over my head. A roof over my head is more important to me than money in my pocket—and he obviously didn’t get it.”
Rapp and Kerman live in a four-unit building where the other three tenants accepted Dattani’s offer and have already moved out, Kerman said. Rapp referred to himself and Kerman as “the last people fighting.”
“If you want the Mission to be all techies and millionaires, [Dattani] is a good influence,” said Rapp, who has been protesting together with Kerman for the last 10 months. “If you want to keep the long-time residents, he’s a very bad influence.”
Organizer Carmen Simon, who is working with Eviction Free San Francisco, joined Rapp and Kerman at the protest. She feels landlords like Dattani are using the Ellis Act as a means to evict tenants and walk away with the money. The Ellis Act was intended to allow people to exit the business of being landlords, but often they sell the units as TICs, or Tenants In Common.
“Eviction means the end of life in San Francisco for these residents,” Simon said. “We think it’s a crisis for affordable rent.”
From February 2010 to February 2013, Ellis Act evictions jumped 170 percent, according to a November report by the city’s budget and legislative analyst.
Long-time Mission resident Benito Santiago was among the group to offer his support. Santiago received his own eviction notice last December after living at Duboce Street for 37 years.
“I’ve been there all this time,” Santiago said. “I’ve got roots settled in. It’s like I’ve got this oak tree planted solid, and it’s being uprooted.”
Rachel, a supporter of Rapp and Kerman who did not give her last name, said that the number of evictions is alarming. “The speed is overwhelming. It’s disabling. The displacement of so much entrenched culture is painful to watch.”
Does direct action help? “The other option is sitting at home and watching,” Rachel said. “That’s not acceptable to me.”
If evicted, Kerman has no other options.
“This is my city,” Kerman said. “This is a unique place and they’re eviscerating the population. They’re destroying the soul of the city.”