Advocates for the tenants who were displaced by a fire at Mission and 22nd streets last year held a press conference Friday to affirm that tenants do in fact have the right to return.

“The tenants in this building have not lost their rent control rights. These tenants maintain their right to return,” said Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee. “I am feeling confident that this building will never lose rent control. And the community is going to make sure that it never loses rent control.”

The city has ordered that the building be torn down to street level, sparing the basement, but the Department of Building Inspection said that although the word “demolish” appears several times in in the order, it actually will require the owner to get an “alteration” permit for the demolition.   

Advocates said that technicality – an alteration permit versus a demolition permit –  means the original building will still exist and therefore it will remain under rent control and local laws governing the right to return.

Advocates for the business tenants would also like to see an agreement that allows business tenants to return as well.

“This building is an ecosystem…so many of the people that live in the building actually worked in it as well,” said Gabriel Medina of the Mission Economic Development Agency, who called for assistance for the businesses to be able to return as well.

Medina also affirmed the tenants’ continued right to return.

“We saw permits without any notification to the residents to the businesses to the neighborhood that this building was going to be potentially demolished,” Medina said. “And we had to make sure and we’re happy to make sure that they have 100 percent right of return.”

But Medina also pointed out that it can take years for a damaged building to be repaired. Tenants who have been relocated to Treasure Island or Parkmerced or other temporary housing have one additional year to stay in those locations – making it imperative for action to be taken quickly on the building.

“If this goes on the way it’s been going in this case, it could be two three four five years,” Medina said. “And we all know, it’s hard for people to try to hang on to a home that they deserve and they have a right to come back to.”

Supervisor David Campos said that his office would try to find new housing for the tenants once their tenure in their temporary apartments runs out.

An attorney representing the owner of the building, Hawk Ling Lou, did not immediately return a call for comment as to Lou’s intentions for the property.

Advocates are now demanding that the city take decisive action on the building. They called for the city to take over the building under eminent domain and build affordable housing in its place.

Luis Granados, executive director of the Mission Economic Development Agency, said the nonprofit would still like to buy the site from Lou and build affordable housing there while still allowing the tenants to return at their previous rent.

“This landlord is a bad actor,” said Supervisor David Campos. “I think the city has to explore every single option with the possibility of actually taking this building over.”

“This is, for us, an icon  building,” said Roberto Hernandez, an organizer with Our Mission No Eviction.

Hernandez also called for the District Attorney to file criminal charges against Lou. The District Attorney’s office said Tuesday that no case was ever presented to the office for a charging decision.

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  1. A couple of points –

    1. All of the men quoted put a lot of energy and money into last year’s failed Mission moratorium and have nothing much of substance to show for it. If the endless meetings at City Hall and in the community about the moratorium helped the displaced folks, lemme know.

    2. Why the heck did no one think the landlord would screw the residents and business owners in the building? Guess all the “community organizers” were too busy worrying about their grants from the City to keep tabs on the landlord and what the City (wasn’t) doing about rebuilding or saving this building at Mission and 22nd.

    3. Speaking of City govt, this is more example of how the Disaster Known as David Campos failed to meet the needs of the Mission. If he put out regular updates about what his office was allegedly doing to save the building and re-house the tenants in the Mission, I’d like to read the updates.

    4. Anyone heard from Plaza 16 lately and have they done anything to help the tenants?

    5. Very curious to see if Tim Redmond’s new political party, VisionSF, will work on behalf the displaced tenants and help them find housing and justice.

    6. I would have liked to know what some of the former tenants have to say but I don’t see any quotes from them here. Were the tenants invited to the presser?

    7. In recent months, Mission Local wrote about Roberto Hernandez demanding the fire commission and SFFD hold a meeting or two in the Mission about arsons. Did he ever followup on his letter to the fire chief? Are “community organizers” doing anything to hold the SFFD accountable over the fires and finally get this City agency to hold forums in the Mission? What about mobilizing folks to speak at public comment at fire commission meetings?

    8. Corrupt DA George Gascon is too busy with his supposed blue ribbon police accountability panel, as if the former SFPD chief is gonna holds cops accountable, and basically the goal of the panel is to elect Gascon to be either mayor or CA’s attorney general. Has Hernandez or any of the “community organizers” done anything of substance to have Gascon bring charges?

    That’s plenty for now. I really feel sorry for the displaced folks.

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  2. Departments of Building Inspection don’t speak. Would be nice to know who actually provided the statement. Or has the department issued something in writing?

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    1. Thanks for the feedback. The DBI spokesperson referenced is Lily Madjus Wu.

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