Shantel McClendon outside of her Valencia Gardens apartment. Photo by Eric Murphy.

A judge on Friday put a halt to a nearly three-year campaign by property manager The John Stewart Company to evict a mother and her five children from Valencia Gardens, a public housing facility at 15th and Valencia Streets. 

In his proposed decision, Judge Richard B. Ulmer Jr. barred the management company from evicting Shantel McClendon and her children from the public housing facility, ruling that The John Stewart Co’s hands were legally “unclean.” In his view, the company acted dishonestly on four separate occasions in its attempts to expel the single mother from her home of more than 15 years. 

“I’m happy about that,” McClendon said Wednesday over the phone. “I still have to endure the stress.” 

McClendon was referring to a quote from John Stewart Co. CEO Jack Gardner in a Tuesday San Francisco Chronicle article stating, “We do not feel the draft ruling is consistent with the law or the facts in this matter, and are currently reviewing our options.” 

He added that “we may have no choice but to continue to pursue legal remedies.”  

The management company has until Aug. 31 to file an objection to the proposed decision, said Ryan Murphy, a lawyer with Eviction Defense Collaborative, which has been representing McClendon in the monthslong eviction battle. He said, sans an objection to the decision, the John Stewart Co. can still appeal. 

In a phone interview, Gardner reiterated what he told the Chronicle, adding: “Turning a blind eye to illegal occupants would not only violate the law, but would be unfair to all the residents who comply with their leases, as well as all the people on the waiting list for a unit.”

Ulmer made his decision based on four instances in which he found the management company had acted unfairly in its attempts to evict McClendon. 

Several of them concern the father of three of McClendon’s children, Rasheed Loveless, and the fact that Loveless was a frequent visitor at McClendon’s residence — far more frequent than is generally permitted.

Although the management company unsuccessfully attempted to evict McClendon on the grounds of Loveless’s extended stays in 2016, it subsequently moved to evict her five more times on other grounds, such as back rent. 

Only after McClendon came up with the rent, remedying management’s other concerns, did the management company resurrect Loveless’s stays and attempt to evict McClendon again, 21 months later. 

The judge also found that the management company acted unfairly in May 2018 in having McClendon sign a “recertification of tenancy” it had drafted containing a list of her apartment’s occupants that did not include Loveless. The management company subsequently served her with an eviction notice alleging she failed to report him. 

“In short [The John Stewart Company] authored a document that it demanded McClendon sign, knowing that it would use that document to seek to evict McClendon and her family,” Ulmer wrote. “This was, at minimum, bad faith and establishes unclean hands.” 

Additionally, the judge found that, in May 2018, the management purposefully withheld Loveless’s alleged “unauthorized occupancy,” which was grounds for eviction, only after McClendon was able to seek rental assistance from Hamilton Families and paid the company $3,412. 

Then, in July 2018, the John Stewart Company’s lawyers suggested that Loveless apply to become a live-in aide to McClendon, which would allow him to stay for extended periods at the apartment and help McClendon care for her children. Two months later, the management company said he could not become an aide because he was a family member, which the judge said the company already knew. 

Nevertheless, as a result of the live-in aide application — which was the management company’s suggestion — it discovered Loveless had a criminal history, which it subsequently attempted to use as grounds for yet another eviction notice. (Loveless began serving a prison sentence in 2019 and is not currently living at the housing complex.) 

Ulmer found that the scenario the management company created was unfair. 

All told, said McClendon’s lawyer Murphy, the management company has served McClendon 14 eviction notices since 2016. 

“It’s remarkable that there are four distinct reasons of bad faith provided by the judge,” he said. “That’s a lot.” 

The John Stewart Co. also made headlines in March, when it aggressively tried to evict 18-year-old Terrance Hall from his Valencia Gardens apartment immediately following his grandmother’s death. He was temporarily allowed to stay. 

For her part, McClendon said that, if possible, she may want to leave Valencia Gardens because of all that has transpired. “It’s too much,” she said. “I don’t feel safe.” 

This article has been updated with comments from the president of The John Stewart Company. 

Follow Us

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

Join the Conversation


  1. And so it goes with this type of affordable housing.
    It’s not really your your home to live like a normal human being with folks visiting or staying over or keeping an eye on the kids.
    The Stasi is monitoring comings and goings and your “behavior”.
    Our black brethren, stripped of their wealth, neighborhood and opportunities are shunted into institutionalized living accommodations.
    Thanks for nothin’ San Francisco “values”.

    votes. Sign in to vote
  2. The various facts were presented in court. The judge has made a (preliminary but likely final) decision. Rule of law, well and good. So I think it isn’t reasonable for any uninvolved reader here to have a strong opinion on the outcome.

    But I wonder what I’d think if I were living there and a close neighbor to Shantel. To me that’s the bottom line here. Is she or isn’t she a good neighbor, contributing to make it a pleasant, clean, peaceful, and safe place to live? A earlier article quoted some neighbors that it is a good place to live and she wasn’t a problem. That’s a indication, but not necessarily a consensus.

    votes. Sign in to vote
  3. It really does seem like a typical landlord that would be dealing with a tenant in a low-income neighborhood where families struggle to make ends meet. I am really happy that this mother of five is able to stay at her place and hopefully there will not be any more spiteful and dishonest actions by Property Management.

    votes. Sign in to vote
  4. All I can say is now the mother can rest and move on with her life hopefully?

    votes. Sign in to vote
Leave a comment
Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *