Bill Condon speaking against his possible eviction, with his friend/lawyer Donald Simon in the background. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Some 45 people gathered to hear speeches and eat burgers at an Anti-Eviction Block Party Saturday afternoon, thrown to protest the eviction of five tenants who claim they’ve been harassed by a property manager who glued their doors shut and has stopped accepting rent checks.

“My rent’s no good after 15 years?” said Bill Condon, one of the tenants facing eviction and the organizer of the block party. “Now I’m the villain?”

Their eviction is being carried out by Vlad Chernoguz, a property manager tenants say entered the picture when their building at 2693 22nd Street was sold to Martha Miranda and Rosa Marcano last year for $1.5 million. Two of the three units in the building took a buy-out earlier this year, and renovations in those units have convinced the remaining tenants that their new landlords plan to evict them and flip the property.

The owners could not be reached for comment.

“They want to try to sell each unit for $1.3, $1.4 [million],” said Condon. He said Chernoguz emptied out the other units by threatening owner move-in evictions and offering tens of thousands of dollars.

“He’s threatened me several times with an owner move-in,” Condon said. “[When that happened,] I go ‘Vlad, you’ve already tried that twice.’”

“Bill has had more than one conversation with him,” said Sara Coe, Condon’s girlfriend who also lives in the building. “He wanted us to sit down, and Bill [said] ‘Well, what’s going to happen here, Vlad? What’s the worst-case scenario? I really want to stay.’ And he says ‘Well, that’s not going to happen. We’re going to remodel and build a luxury TIC [tenants-in-common].’”

“After that we kind of realized what he was up to,” she added.

Condon received a 3-day eviction notice Friday night, alleging that two of the tenants — who Condon says are on the rental agreement — are guests and therefore in violation of the 30-day guest limit.

It’s the latest in a series of back-and-forths that have seen Condon’s door glued shut twice (once fixable with tools, the other time requiring a change of locks) and his floor almost destroyed.

“Soon after [the glue incident], [Chernoguz] made an appearance in the building and he went up to Bill and said ‘We’re going to have to cut a hole in the floor up here because we need to ventilate,’” Coe said. “Then [he] started asking him how much he paid in rent and said ‘Well, you could move into an SRO, you’d be happy in an SRO.’”

Shortly after, Condon decided to communicate only in writing, and he hasn’t spoken to or seen Chernoguz since.

While little is known about Miranda and Marcano, Chernoguz is no stranger to evictions. In 2014, he attempted to evict a family from a building he owns just around the corner from Condon’s, claiming their lack of cleanliness was a nuisance. Tenants there said Chernoguz illegally entered their apartment and photographed the alleged disorder just after the head of the household had been struck by a drunk driver and hospitalized.

“At the time they were going in there and taking pictures, Estela Martinez was in the hospital having had both her legs amputated and was on the brink of death and had already been given last rites,” said Tom Drohan, her lawyer for the case. “It’s true that the family wasn’t spending a lot of time tidying up the kitchen, because they were all staying with [her] in the hospital.”

Martinez, then 60, spent five months in the hospital before returning to her 23rd and York home. She beat her eviction case against Chernoguz in a trial by jury late in 2014, and came to the block party with her family to support Condon and his co-tenants.

Chernoguz was also behind the attempted eviction of 86-year-old Guillermo Manzanares earlier this year, a case that drew attention city-wide after the Chronicle publicized it as a “gotcha” eviction in a July story. Manzanares, also represented by Drohan, won as well.

“[Chernoguz’s] model seems to be to buy older buildings in the Mission that are filled with tenants who are mainly monolingual Spanish speakers, and he figures out ways to get them out,” Drohan said.

“If he does this six times and is only successful once, it’s worth it,” said Donald Simon, a friend and neighbor of Condon. As a lawyer, he’s been looking at the papers Condon receives from Chernoguz and says they’ll wait for something substantive before taking action.

“We’ll wait for him to bring an unlawful detainer action, and if it comes to that, then we fight, we fight ‘em,” he said.

With a 3-day eviction notice just posted, the conflict may come to a head as early as next week. If Chernoguz posts an unlawful detainer notice and Condon contests it, the case could take months.

Fighting evictions, however, was a rallying call at Saturday’s barbecue.

“You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your dignity, you owe it to your community — to step up, speak out, and take action,” Simon said to the attendees.

The block party, organized by Condon and Coe as well as the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), heard rounds of testimony from neighbors on their own conflicts with landlords and saw organizers and neighbors informing speakers of the resources available to them.

ACCE, the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), the San Francisco Tenants Union, and other housing organizations had tables with “Yes on Prop I” flyers and other informational literature they passed out to those present.

“That’s the whole purpose of this afternoon, to let people know about the organizations and service out there,” Condon said.

This story will be updated if the owners or the property manager return requests for comment. 

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6 Comments

  1. I hear so many people say they’ve been forced out of their apartments, and I’m always confused, because there are so few avenues for a landlord to evict a tenant in SF without cause. From this article it sounds like a lot of people are either tempted by a huge payout, or they cave to intimidation. Either way that’s not being forced out. If you don’t want to leave, and you haven’t violated your rental agreement, then you don’t have to leave. Stand up for yourself and don’t take the payout. Also, tenant intimidation is terrible and there should be strong penalties for it.

  2. What world does Paul Allen live in?

    Its time for these landlords to be hit by the 250 K verdicts for interference with the renters estates in their properties.

  3. Look at his shirt. Goes to Spring training instead of paying his landlord market rent. Landlord is paying for his lavish vacations.

  4. paulallen please read the article again. Don’t think you get the intimidation inherent in the process.When a landlord offers a “buyout ‘” the landlord is saying I want you gone. A ‘buyout ‘ is a sanitized eviction. If a mugging victim gives up their wallet to avoid being beaten , shot or stabbed , do you say it is their fault ?

  5. Take it from me in the Sunny South: protect yourselves from any “guardian ad litem” trying to become a wedge between any Mission family caregiver and their sick loved one (elder? disabled child?). Here in Florida there’s Mental Health Probate Courts that get anonymous reports in over the Protective Services Hotline. These complaints get turned into MHPC hearings with only ONE judge and then, when you fail to prevent them from framing you as a “abusive or negligent” caregiver, the judge strips you of any power of attorney your loved one might have given you before they went into dementia, say, or perhaps coma. A private partner from a GUARDIAN AD LITEM company soon dropped by to claim her “new momma”, got her into an ambulance, and then whisked her off to a crooked hospice inpatient unit. There, they poisoned my mother with Roxanol (liquid morphine) for a little over a week. Then she died. The whole time, I was unable to write any checks to pay bills; unable to see any medical records of mom. Unable to stop the mispractice of predatory guardianship.

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