On Saturday, nearly 100 people took to the streets in support of Proposition G, a proposed anti-speculation real estate tax on short-term flips of multi-unit properties. The tax, which would be 24 percent of the sale price if resold within one year or 14 percent if resold within five years, targets buildings that are purchased and re-sold quickly for profit.
Organized by Causa Justa, one of the main organizations working with tenants threatened with evictions, the “Stop the Flip” rally started at the 16th Street Bart Plaza, moved on through Capp and Valencia Streets and ended on 22nd Street in front of the offices of Kaushik Dattani, the landlord who is evicting 27-year Mission District resident Patricia Kerman.
“People still don’t know about the Ellis Act. It’s amazing,” said Kerman, who is getting evicted on Wednesday from her home on 20th Street. “One of the things I always do is educate people — whenever I’m on the bus or even on the Apple help line.
Kerman said she feels “stressed” about her imminent eviction, but views Proposition G as a way to curb Ellis Act evictions against longtime San Francisco residents such as herself.
Other supporters at the rally included the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Eviction Free San Francisco and San Francisco Board of Supervisor Eric Mar. Supervisors Jane Kim, David Campos and John Avalos also support the measure.
Marching and chanting, they held clear balloons that floated in the gusty winds, representing the “speculative bubbles” that have pushed housing prices in San Francisco to an all-time high. Myriam Zamora, a housing rights counselor and organizer with Causa Justa, pointed to the proposed 10-story development on the 16th Bart Plaza and the small businesses that are closing on Valencia Street because they can no longer afford the rising rent.
“The people who develop this area, they don’t think about the people who live in the area,” said Zamora, who lives in the Excelsior District but has worked in the Mission for decades. “It’s not fair, but we work for justice.”
For 25-year-old Katherine Canton, the issue of speculation hits close to home. She was born and raised in San Francisco at Valencia Gardens Apartments with her mother, but moved to the Western Addition neighborhood when Valencia Gardens was redeveloped. It remains public housing. Now, she lives in Oakland while her mother is in Michigan where the cost of living is more affordable, Canton explains.
“[My mother] was tired of being poor,” said Canton, who hopes to earn a PhD in economics and public policy with a focus on urban poverty. “I feel very displaced and I haven’t been about to articulate that. I realized it has affected my sense of community and identity. I still don’t know how I feel about this city I used to lived in.”
The median average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $3,250 in the Mission District, said Maria Zamudio, Housing Rights Campaign Lead Organizer at Causa Justa, to the crowd of protesters and passersby.
“That’s completely out of reach for most working class citizens,” shouted Zamudio, at the corner of Valencia and 19th Streets, the site of a newly constructed luxury condominium complex. There, a few protesters shared their struggles in their searches for affordable housing in San Francisco.
Maria Medrano, who was evicted from her home on 928 Capp Street this past June, is currently living in a truck and still searching for replacement housing. Recently, she called the leasing number listed on the windows of the Valencia Street condos to inquire about openings, but was told that “they don’t rent to Latinos,” she explained in Spanish.
Medrano is in favor of Proposition G and hopes to put an end to speculation in the Mission District, which she feels specifically targets the Latino working class community.
Some of Saturday’s marchers said that although Proposition G is not enough to solve the affordable housing crisis in San Francisco, it is nonetheless progress in an increasingly expensive city.
“It’s not the end product,” said one organizer with Causa Justa. “But it’s the beginning. We’ve got to have more affordable housing and prevent evictions. They’re taking away the soul of San Francisco.”
“Prop G is good, but to me, it’s a band-aid,” said another organizer with Eviction Free San Francisco. “There should be no no-fault evictions. But it’s better than nothing.”