Ellis Act Protesters Take to the Streets Again

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.”

Filed under: Housing, Mobile, Today's Mission

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  1. Sam

    Twenty people isn’t a protest. There were more people in my nearest Starbucks this morning.

    28 years of low rent is a decent stretch. Kerman should take the offer and leave while she still has her dignity. It isn’t much fun having the sheriff throw you and your stuff out onto the side-walk.

    Oh, and that building at 20th and Folsom was a nightmare before the tenants left. Dattani did the only thing he could.

    • Backtotheburbs

      You waited in line for a frappucino? Sounds like a nightmare…

      Actually, the landlord could have maintained and even renovated that building. He wouldn’t be the first rent control landlord to do that, it’s nice to have a nice building. That is another side effect of rent control that no one talks about – that the rental stock is mostly run down and subpar. If you factor this in the low rent is no longer charity but a business transaction – ” you can live in my shitty building for whatever rent we agreed in years ago (and protected by law)”.

      • Sam

        You are correct that there is little incentive for a landlord to invest heavily in rent controlled units. Rent control promotes squalor – call it the law of unintended consequences.

        You can virtually tell which buildings on a black are rentals by looking at the state of the exterior.

        Although some landlords like to improve anyway so they can raise the rents through capital improvement passthrus. And in fact the rent board put in place provisions that disallow any passthru that is based on unreasonably luxurious improvements such as marble floors, gold-plated faucets and so on.

        It also means that units in a building may be in wildly different conditions. The rent-controlled unit is squalid while the unit above it that had turnover is expensively remodeled in order to get the best rent.

        So there is your paradox. Your home decays until you leave, and only then is transformed into a palace.

        Of course, you could always fix it up yourself, with prior written consent from your landlord of course.

      • Old Mission Neighbor

        You make a good point about the good point about some of the negative consequences of rent control.

  2. SFrentier

    Isn’t Kerman the chick who was giving the Schmidt restaurant below her a hard time? She had a huge and noxious sign in her window saying “bad neighbor” with an arrow pointing in their direction. Apparently she didn’t like an upscale restaurant below her. It’s like, bitch, really? Then why rent in a mixed use bldg? Oh yeah, because your milking your RC unit. And now the story reads- entitled white chick got what was coming. It’s like Kerman, karma’s a bitch!

  3. Boo

    Move on with your lives, people.

  4. SF Resident

    Ciao Patricia, San Francisco does not feel sorry for you.
    Be grateful you had all this time at a low cost in San Francisco. It’s time to support yourself, and not milking the landlord any more. Maybe you’ll have to finally face reality in the USA and live where you can afford.

    I bet she just takes the pay out! Just like the others who can’t see how good they had it – so long!
    End rent control – and bring some sanity back to SF.

    Tell your Supervisors to encourage property owners to rent their 15-20,000 vacant units w/out rent control and you’ll see prices to buy/rent will drop. Until then prices will only rise, or units will remain off the market.

  5. Missionite

    If I were her I’d fight to keep that gravy train rent going as long as possible, too. But she’s right in that she’s out of options, after years of trying to humiliate her landlord, no one with access to Google is going to rent to her.

  6. Rent control segregates landlords into two separate and unequal groups. Those who can charge what ever they want and those who’s property is seized by the City and forced to be rented against their will, to strangers for pennies on the dollar. WHEN WILL THIS RIDICULOUS DISCRIMINATION END !

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