Jack Halprin on the morning of a Google bus protest. Photo by Lydia Chávez

To his friends and his colleagues at Google, Jack Halprin was an intelligent tech leader and a kind, generous man. To his tenants, he was an unwilling landlord engaging in a years-long struggle to evict them from their homes at 812 Guerrero. Both are now extending condolences.

Halprin died from cancer Thursday morning, according to a Google employee and a childhood friend.  The head of e-discovery at Google had struggled with the illness for around six months, according to a friend who requested he remain anonymous. The Examiner wrote that Halprin’s family announced his passing on Facebook, saying he had passed peacefully.

Earlier, tenants at 812 Guerrero Street said that Halprin had been getting cancer treatments and had been out of town for months at a time.

“He never let go of that irrepressible intensity, irreverence and honesty that we all brought to our first job. If you are up to it, raise Jack’s favorite Jägermeister shot in remembrance,” wrote Greg Buckles in a memorial for Halprin on the e discovery consulting firm site eDJ Group.

“We send our deepest condolences to Jack’s friends and family,” the Anti Eviction Mapping Project wrote on Twitter.

“He was kind, generous, a happy person and he really enjoyed being alive,” his anonymous friend wrote on Facebook. “When I met my friend a couple of years ago, he was surprised that I didn’t already know who he was and that I was willing to be his friend. He told me to google him, so I did. After some reading, I learned that he was known as the ‘evil google lawyer’.”

Elliot Zaret, a former friend who grew up with him in Woodbridge, Connecticut and went to the same elementary and Hebrew school said his death had been confirmed this morning.

“When we were little he was the school “fat kid,” and was picked on a bit,” said Zaret,  who said that as the short kid in class, he identified with him. “But he was always nice and had a good sense of humor.”

Later, during junior high school and high school, the friend said, he “transformed his body and became a buff swimmer.”

The two friends both attended Yale University. “In college and after he was something of a party animal,” the friend said.  He was an “extremely fun loving guy.”

Zaret said he had never mentioned being sick with cancer and that he mostly put updates on Facebook, “funny things from the Onion.”

Halprin became a news topic after he bought the property at 812 Guerrero Street in 2014 and used an owner-move-in eviction on one unit in the building, followed quickly by Ellis evictions for the rest of the building’s tenants. The four units’ occupants who remain in the building have fought their eviction for more than a year. With the help of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, they have staged protests in front of Google, the Guerrero building, a Google bus stop, and other locations to push back against their eviction.

Three units’ tenants succeeded in getting their evictions quashed in court for nonpayment of relocation fees. Halprin appealed that decision in court. The fourth unit’s sole tenant, a disabled woman, was unable to wage a legal battle and, most recently, was awaiting forcible eviction by sheriff’s deputies.

But according to the anonymous friend, the building was meant to have a philanthropic future.

“I found out that my friend was secretly donating that building to Larkin Street Youth Services, which houses (mostly LGBT) homeless kids,” he wrote. “I hated that people had such an ill opinion of my friend when he was anything but an evil person.”

The intent to donate the building could not be immediately confirmed.

Buckles, too, mentioned Larkin Street Youth Services, recommending that those wishing to remember Halprin make a donation either to it or to the Lymphoma Research foundation.

The house that Jack Halprin bought on Thursday evening.

We will update this post with more information as it becomes available. Lydia Chávez contributed reporting. 

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19 Comments

  1. “The house that Jack Halprin bought on Thursday evening.” Impressive feat given that “Halprin died from cancer Thursday morning.”
    Condolences to friends and family; let’s hope the building does go to house homeless kids.

  2. Was going to donate the building he ripped teachers and elderly to a youth hostel? I don’t buy it for a second.

  3. Not surprising that Gentrification Journal Mission Loc@l managed to eke out an almost laudatory piece about Jack Halprin.

    I probably didn’t know him, but I know people who do – and they raved about him, too. However, his tenants, whose evictions are still in process as of today, have no reason to celebrate or mourn his passing; their nightmare continues. In fact, now it becomes more uncertain, not less.

    Why a man who was dying of cancer dedicated his last few months to trying to remove people from their homes I do not know. Jack is not here to speak for his actions, so instead we have his anonymous friend intimating that he was going to donate the property. I hope she’s right, but it’s certainly the first time we’ve heard it.

    My sincere condolences to his family and friends – but my thoughts are primarily with the tenants of 812 Guerrero.

  4. It’s so sad that he spent the last months of his life trying to evict people. talk about the dissonance of “treating” cancer while enraging an entire city. just goes to show no one’s truly happy and making it in this system because WHY?… to what end any of this misery and sickness?

    to evict teachers and disabled to help faceless kids sounds sweet to whom? all of this empty symbolism is killing us dead dead dead.

    erika lopez

  5. Condolences to his family and friends.
    Building deed could have been left in will to Larkin street youth without evicting the tenants. I’ve got no problem with the move-in unit, but he bought the place knowing full well that it was a rent controlled residential property with 5 units rented under rent control, and paid fair market price for that situation.

  6. I doubt it that it was his INITIAL intention to donate that building when he first bought it. He might want to donate it when he learned that his life is coming to an end. Human beings are selfish!

  7. Honestly, I don’t care what he intended to do with his building once he emptied it, because the fact remains that what he did to his tenants, including a disabled person, was pure evil, utterly despicable, and completely unforgivable. I am sure that his friends will miss him, and that they mourn his loss. But his actions as a landlord are inhuman at best, and will stain his legacy FOREVER. I don’t believe he intended to donate his building for a single nanosecond, and anyone who does is a fool. My condolences go to his friends and family, but my sympathies go to his victims.

  8. I’ll believe it when I hear from Larkin that this was his intention. Or if he left them the property in his will for them to earn income from. (I don’t see Larkin St. kicking out teachers.) I never understood why he wanted to stay there, being so unwelcome in the neighborhood, and if he did intend to donate the property, he could have told everyone this and not have been such a hated man. Sorry he died from cancer, but he could have been less hated if he did this long ago. by the way, there is an error in this article. He did two OMIs, with one being bogus (his boyfriend never was moving in there, and was not an owner as far as I know) and he ended up paying off the person he evicted from that one.

  9. As a cancer survivor, I dont understand why, if he was fighting cancer, and had lofty plans for 812, he made the decision to continue to evict people in need. It doesn’t make any sense, so it’s likely not true. Death is a natural part of life; even a relatively young death. We are all a part of everything that exists, and we all have consequences, positive or negative, for our choices.

  10. He was going to make some people homeless in order to provide housing for the homeless? That makes no sense, and I’m not buying it.

  11. Jack was my friend. The people next door took the Ellis Act eviction out on Jack as a person. Instead of fighting the problem:
    the rental crisis in SF and fair pay for teachers and civil service members…they made Jack into a monster. A scapegoat for the problems that we’re experiencing as a society and community.

    He bought the house in 2012 (we leased the house next door shortly after) and served the Ellis act evictions on the people that were living there. They used social media to make people hate him because he wealthy enough to buy the house and employed by Google.

    For the last two and a half years he felt alone and ostracized. He was kind. He was a good man.

    1. Evicting people from their homes IS personal. Jack may or may not have been a monster, but his actions were despicable.

    2. He made people homeless. Back where I come from, we don’t call that “kind… a good man.” Nothing forced Jack Halprin to buy any property, and once he had a property, nothing forced him to evict people from their long-time homes. He was not a good man.

    3. Jack was also my friend. He has been horribly mischartacterised. He is no longer here to explain which tenant started this drama. And you know who you are. So let him rip.

    4. It baffles me why some people think that tenants have a “right” to forever live in a rental apartment. Properties get bought and sold every day and the current occupants move out. It doesn’t matter what are the intentions of the buyer. It happens everywhere in every city and every state. People in San Francisco need to realize that they aren’t entitled to anything, especially not prime housing space in highly desirable neighborhoods.

  12. Any chance the tenants still there (are there any?) could keep from being evicted if this home went to someone in an estate now?

    1. We’re trying to learn what will happen with the tenants and the building, stay tuned.

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