927-935 Alabama St. Photo by Loi Almeron

Past lawsuits accuse landlord of physical threats, willful neglect, and barricading himself within tenant’s bedroom with plywood board


The tenants in the 1904 Edwardian on 21st and Alabama are tight-knit. Everyone who lives in the five-unit building seems to be godparents to one another. Even the dogs from different units have had puppies together. 

“This is a lot of history here,” said Yesenia Martinez, 45, who has lived in the building all her life with her 90-year-old mother, Yelba. She added that her nieces and nephews know it as “‘grandma’s house,’ and it will be ‘grandma’s house’ forever.” 

But soon, maybe only as a memory. 

On Jan. 3, the building’s tenants gathered in a “really nice” New York-style loft on Bryant Street at the behest of their new landlord, Michael Campesino, and his lawyer, Justin A. Goodman of Zacks, Freedman and Patterson, a firm notorious for its expertise in Ellis Act evictions. 

After introducing himself as the new owner, Campesino “basically said you need to take $50,000 [in buyouts] or we’re gonna Ellis Act you,” recalled 58-year-old John Marksman, who has lived in his Alabama Street unit for 30 years. Campesino then handed them buyout disclosure forms to sign and detailed his plans to transform the building into Tenancy in Common (TIC) condominiums.   

Campesino gave them three weeks to think about it, the tenants said. He told Marksman in private that he’d add an extra $5,000 to Marksman’s buyout if he could convince the other tenants to take buyouts, Marksman said. Little did they know that Marksman was the least likely advocate for such an argument, because he landed at 927-935 Alabama St. after a childhood of bouncing around in foster care placements. 

So, the tenants considered the offer. And, no, they don’t want to take the buyout. Instead, said Martinez, “we’re all lawyering up.” 

In addition to Martinez and her grandmother, who live in one unit, and Marksman — the recognizable “Mission Segway Guy” — who lives in another unit, there is Lizette Flores, 21, who has lived with her parents and three siblings in another unit all of her life. The two other units are occupied as well, one with newer market-rate tenants and the other with another longtime tenant. 

Their case is likely to endure for at least a couple of years, but it also underscores how speculators can upend lives by purchasing rent-controlled property for a relatively low sum — the prices are not based on what someone can make on the open market but on current, rent-controlled income — and turning them into veritable cash cows. Although the situation seems tailor-made for a “small-sites” purchase by a local nonprofit, it’s unclear if any are ready to step in. 

Javier Flores (left), Yecenia Martinez, and John Marksman sit in Marksman’s apartment. Photo by Loi Almeron.

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For Campesino’s part, he told Mission Local over the phone: “I always respect everyone’s rights. I look at my tenants’ rights as my responsibility, and my rights are their responsibility.”  

He followed up with an email, elaborating: 

“I work on properties, that due to rent control, lose thousands of dollars every month, have poor maintenance from previous owners, and even city-backed non-profits decline to purchase. Tenants rights are my responsibility and my rights are their responsibility. I fix all required deferred maintenance, I respect the rights of tenants, and I create opportunity for everyone to build a better long term future by offering generous buyouts that can be used by those same tenants to purchase their own home and begin building their own equity and wealth. 85 [percent] of my buyout recipients use their payment to buy a home.  When tenants are not interested in a scenario where everyone can benefit I expect all parties to fully exert their rights respectfully.” 

Campesino and his company, Real Estate Investing Club LLC, bought the Alabama Street property in mid-December for $1.8 million. If Campesino succeeds in pushing out the longtime tenants, he stands to make almost five times his purchase price; a two-bedroom house in San Francisco currently fetches, on average, $1.4 million, according to Zillow. 

“They’re heartless,” Marksman said. “How can you come in and uproot these people out of their homes that they’ve lived in all these years? Just so you can make your money? I mean, that’s just greed.”

Campesino sent Marksman a text message on Jan. 23: “I’m doing Ellises all the time John. This is exactly my business and I know the exact road.”

Marksman, Martinez and Flores all fear that if they end up being evicted from Alabama Street, moving out of San Francisco is their only option. “It’s like a complete shock, because I’ve grown up hearing about displacements … and stuff like that,” the 21-year-old Flores said. “But you just never think that’s going to happen to you.”

Evictions and “Sham” LLCs

The pending evictions at 927-935 Alabama are not the first time Campesino has bought a building and threatened to evict or buy out tenants. In fact, public records show that on at least three other occasions, Campesino has bought buildings, allegedly harassed tenants, and attempted to evict them. 

Each of the three cases, detailed in lawsuits against Campesino, includes rafts of allegations that the landlord intentionally failed to maintain the buildings he purchased in an attempt to force out his tenants. In one case, he allegedly allowed lead paint contamination to persist around child tenants. In all three of the cases, he allegedly entered the tenants’ homes without notification. In at least two instances, tenants allege Campesino forcibly broke into apartments or bedrooms without permission. He once allegedly barricaded himself in a man’s bedroom in Berkeley, using a piece of plywood as a protective barrier. 

He’s really a piece of work,” said Raquel Fox, a Tenderloin Housing Clinic attorney representing tenants of 1151-1161 Alabama St. near the corner of 24th Street, whom Campesino filed to evict via Ellis Act in March 2019. The tenants are still residing there and fighting back. 

Campesino successfully forced tenants out of at least one of his Mission District properties, while tenants at his other Mission properties allege neglect and harassment. A lawsuit from 2009, relating to property he owns in Berkeley, shows that the allegations of harassment have been piling up for years.

Campesino served 1151-1161 Alabama St. with an Ellis Act eviction in April 2019.

Campesino’s modus operandi at 1151-1161 Alabama was similar to the building two blocks away where Marksman, Martinez and Flores live. Purchased in November 2018, also for $1.8 million, he offered tenants of the five-unit building buyouts of  $100,000. They too refused and he then filed for Ellis Act evictions, according to Sam Ortega, 44, a tenant there. 

Campesino “doesn’t care about the community,” Ortega said, sitting outside his home on a Friday. “He just cares about money in his pocket.” 

Ortega and his fellow tenants filed for a one-year extension on their Ellis Act eviction in April 2019, and sued Campesino several months later in August. They allege in their lawsuit that Campesino has neglected to maintain the building, including letting mold and mildew persist, not installing fire alarms and extinguishers, and “failing to remove the raccoons that live and colonize the basement area” of the building. 

In the last year, tenants in the building filed 10 complaints with the Department of Building Inspection. Nine remain open. 

Campesino also allegedly changed some of the door locks without permission and entered apartments without written notice. 

Broadly, Ortega’s lawsuit alleges that Campesino, who sometimes goes by an alias “Stephen Cleveland,” sets up “sham” Wyoming-based limited liability shell companies to buy properties, disrupt tenants, “engage in fraud, discrimination, and retaliation, and to engage in wrongful evictions of tenants.”

Breaking-and-entering, pitbull, and lead toxicity 

Indeed, in March 2018, Campesino bought a six-unit building at 1370 Natoma St., between 14th and 15th streets, for $2.23 million. According to a lawsuit filed by its tenants in September 2018, Campesino repeatedly entered two of the apartments without proper notification, once entering through the back door of an apartment “with no notice.” When asked to leave, the lawsuit alleges, Campesino “refused,” stating that “he knew everything about the law.” 

Once, in July 2018, Campesino gave notice that he would be doing repairs in an apartment. When the tenants, Oscar and Miriam Jimenez, locked the door to their bedroom, Campesino allegedly broke into the bedroom, “causing damage to the doorknob and door frame.” He allegedly did no repairs in the room. 

The same day he allegedly broke into the bedroom, Campesino — without notifying the tenants — allowed his “fully-grown pit bull” to roam around the apartment unsupervised and without anyone’s permission. A day later, Campesino notified the Jimenez family that they were receiving a 163.4 percent rent increase, from $1,975 to $5,400.

They remained for the time being, and sued Campesino that September. 

At another apartment within the building, 1374 Natoma St., Campesino purportedly failed to fix lead toxicity levels in the apartment after a tenant, Rosa Coyado, filed a complaint with the Department of Building and Inspection. “The two children residing there … were and are suffering from lead toxicity levels that required their pediatrician to report the issue to the City,” the lawsuit states. 

After speaking with the children’s doctors, their mother, Cynthia Ayala, “believes the lead issues were compounded when Campesino sanded and painted the front two units without proper (or any) lead precautions,” the lawsuit states. 

On Sep. 6, 2018, only a week after the two children’s pediatrician reported heightened lead levels in their bloodstreams, Campesino served the family with a “three-day pay or quit” notice, arguing they hadn’t paid rent for three months. The family had, in fact, paid rent for those months, and attached their receipts as evidence in their lawsuit. 

1370 Natoma St.

The tenants “believe that this 3-day notice was merely served in order to harass, threaten, and retaliate against them for exercising their rights under” the law, the lawsuit says. 

The case was resolved through mediation at the end of last year with confidentiality provisions, said Debra Bogaards, the lawyer representing the tenants. The tenants have since moved. 

Campesino’s alleged behavior is not limited to San Francisco. In March, 2009, William Blagborne, a 64-year-old tenant at 3030 College Ave. in Berkeley, sued his landlord, Michael Campesino, for entering his apartment on March 2 of that year and nailing a “thick piece of plywood” over the entry of Blagborne’s bedroom. 

That day, Campesino left a note for Blagborne stating that he was “taking possession of the bedroom” for Campesino’s personal use. The day after that, Campesino allegedly threatened Blagborne “with bodily harm” if Blagborne tried to remove the plywood barrier. At the time the lawsuit was filed on March 5, 2009, Campesino continued to “occupy the bedroom of the Apartment with force, menace and threats of violence.” 

Blagborne’s lawsuit further alleges that, in the past, Campesino had forcibly broken into the front door and entered his apartment without permission, turned down the water heater, splotched paint on Blagborne’s ceiling, and contaminated the apartment with lead paint.   

Again, like tenants who would cross Campesino’s path a decade later, Blagborne believed that Campesino’s harassment campaign was “motivated by a pecuniary desire to profit” from Blagborne possibly having to leave the apartment and the prospect of jacking up the rent afterward. 

The case was eventually dismissed at the request of Blagborne’s lawyers. They did not return a call seeking comment, and it’s unclear if Campesino’s alleged behavior resulted in Blagborne leaving the apartment. 

And those aren’t the only buildings Campesino has purchased of late. 

According to Rent Board records, Campesino on Jan. 3 of this year also filed six buyout declarations on a building at 2920-2924 25th Street. Some of the tenants Mission Local spoke to at the building were unaware of this.

The building was purchased on Dec. 13 by one “Real Estate Investing Group LLC,” a company that cannot be found on the California Secretary of State website.  

Julian Mark

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.

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51 Comments

  1. I think the time for a purchase by nonprofits under the “small sites” program was back in December. Why didn’t any groups step up then when the property was cheap?

    1. Because they don’t have funding. The primary source of funding for this kind of stuff in our current politics comes from new developments, but we’re happy to kill those. And for many reasons, we’ve never discussed establishing a permanent, recurring funding source such as property taxes.

    2. Why? Could they have afforded to? I call that adding insult to injury!
      Are you one of those nouveau Real FAKE Estate owners… I bet you’re not even from San Francisco!
      Please, get lost!!!!!! That’s my friend who lives there…. so, if I were you, I would STAY OUT OF IT and not comment another single word!!!!! Shame on you!

  2. Ellis TIC flippers are worse than scum.
    It takes a sociopath to make their living by throwing people out into the street.
    A 50K buyout (perhaps split multiple ways) will get you what permanent housing in the Bay Area?

    That said, this article did not need bits of hyperbole sprinkled in.

    There is no such thing as “Tenancy in Common (TIC) condominiums”.
    Nor does it look like there’s a chance in hell condo conversions are coming back.
    The attempted implication is obvious and not advised for fact based, objective journalism.

    “make almost five times his purchase price” is based on a San Francisco aggregate median home value.
    A simple google search will reveal a TIC is worth about 10%-15% less than a condo.
    After factoring in carrying costs, reno, attorney’s fees, property taxes, capital gains taxes, etc … the guy might walk away with 1.5 million in 3 years’ time if the market for TIC’s holds up. His risk.

    There’s not much point in exaggerating how evil this guy is (very). It may even play slightly into his strategy.

    And the silly buyers of a TIC saddled with the forever scarlet letter of buyouts or worse – Ellis – will not see their investment appreciate at a level close to a legit condo.

    Are the tenants united with one legal entity representing them (good)?
    Each has lawyered up individually (bad)?

    Fighting an Ellis takes unity.
    Once tenants start taking differing legal approaches, strategies and considering their own prerogatives over that of the whole – it plays into the hands of the evictor. He’s counting on divide and conquer.

    The first cracks start to appear when the market rate tenant(s) take the buyout.
    Makes sense – they’re already paying market rate so why not walk out of there into another market rate with 50K in your pocket.

    Ellis is a brutal dog eat cat thing with years of pressure, stress and anxiety.
    Best wishes to the tenants.
    Stay strong and united and for heaven’s sake make sure your legal team has a coherent strategy.
    Pool your money and always get a second legal opinion on the soundest way to go from the best private attorney you can afford – see Yelp.

    Regards,
    Carlos, veteran of a recent successful Ellis Act defense

    1. TICs don’t appreciate like condos not because of “scarlet letters” but because the only banks which finance them carry the debt on their books so interest rates aren’t as competitive as non-conforming jumbo loans that are securitized. This will be fixed eventually once the market is big enough. Property rights as conceived aren’t particularly compatible with the infinite tenancy pass through generations utopia that some local activists envision. Maybe they should focus on more realistic paths to housing security, including the construction of lots of new housing including social housing funded by a consistent mechanism such as property taxes.

      1. Oh I should also add that due to Haney’s universal tenant protections and statewide rent control, the relative regulatory benefits of a condo title version TIC has also been diminished. TICs are only becoming more like condos, not less. The ultimate underlying force is property rights that form the foundation of American society mean there is only so much a municipality can do to prevent tenant occupied properties from becoming owner occupied ones.

      2. Every time you talk about raising property taxes, please remember that there are A LOT of working class people in this city who were able to buy into the housing market by the skin of their teeth, and are barely able to cover their mortgage every month because in seemingly every election, there is at least one ballot measure imposing yet ANOTHER tax on property owners that inevitably goes through, because most voters are renters. If there is money going to fund housing, it should come from EVERYONE who lives here, including the multitude of techie renters who can afford to pay $4,500/mo for a one bedroom, while their neighbor across the street struggles to pay a mortgage that’s less than half that amount!

        1. In the worst case, those people have to sell their homes at a very tidy profit. In the best case, they will be incentivized to support more pro-development policies that keep property taxes low. Finally, Marx would not call a landowner “working class” even if there were even more wealthy landowners around them.

          Either case is better than today where the real working class, who cannot afford land, cling onto apartments until they are bought out at $7k-$50k a head.

  3. So the premise here is that on the one hand, the tenants have obvious rights to possession/residency, and on the other hand the property owner has rights over, well, their actual property. The tension clearly lies in trying to reconcile / compromise between the two, because certainly owners should not be allowed to do whatever they want to their tenants, and the tenants should not be allowed to do whatever they want with the owner’s property.

    However, it seems to me that the debate as to how to reconcile those two already happened, and that the Ellis Act was the result. (In tandem with rent controls, FEHA, etc etc.) Wasn’t the Ellis Act researched, debated, and ultimately duly-enacted by the state? Weren’t the rights of both tenants and owners considered? It provides something of a middle ground while clearly laying out the duties and obligations of each (and any errors in the process are in favor of the tenant in possession). I suppose you can always take issue with the law/process itself, but that’s not the question or application here.

    So, I get that this article is focusing on the EFFECTS of the action – which I am in no way trying to mitigate or ignore, but the article seems to have already covered that angle. But to the extent the state has already weighed in on how to navigate the middle ground here, I don’t see how the mere exercising of that Ellis middle ground – which is literally the thing the government allows you to do in this situation – carries automatic connotations against the owner.

    (Caveat – the behavioral allegations against this particular owner may go beyond what’s permissible, and the tenants can and should protect themselves and exercise their rights and such. My reaction was just to this broader inherent idea that Ellising itself was amoral or illegal.)

  4. Ok so this guy seems like a jerk and he’s obviously showing no respect for the tenants who do have rights. But on the other hand, I think it’s ridiculous for these people to expect to stay here in the most expensive city in America just because they’ve lived here for many years. Why should they be allowed to have a 2 bedroom apartment for $1200 or whatever it is they pay, while the rest of us struggle to pay $2500 a month (at a good rate) for a studio, just because they grew up here.Yes we may make more but if all of our money is going for rent, and they get not only rent control, space to roam, and Allan qualify for assistance while taking in $100k how is that fair. Times change, this city’s needs have changed, and if they can’t afford it, it’s time to find a cheaper place to live where they can. People are always dogging on tech workers but they sure love all the products and services they provide, so why not let them do their thing and pay if they have the money.
    San Francisco is not 1969 any longer.

    1. Actually we hate a lot of what tech has done to undermine workers rights and protections thru gig economy like Uber and task rabbit, horribly
      Exacerbating housing crisis with air Bnb…just to Name a Few. And yes the people who grow up here and have labored for decades building this city have a right to their city and their home. Housing is a human right. Personal financial gain at the expense of others’ dispossession is not. Modern colonizer land grabs are still colonizer land grabs and this shit needs to stop.

      1. The city has had a housing crisis for 30 years, at least. A recent supervisor candidate was herself evicting tenants in the 90s to secure her own place to live. That’s not a sign of a healthy housing market.

      2. Honestly, people who ‘built this city’ should have also been building their own security toward retirement. Cheap rent via rent control becomes addictive and can easily lure renters into complacency. I have no respect for greedy landlords, but blaming it on entrepreneurs and techies won’t work either. Airbnb is not to blame – we even allow our tenants to subsidize their rent-controlled apts by allowing them to Airbnb guest rooms.
        Better would be education for renters that nothing stays the same and they are in charge of their futures. We even suggest tenants buy a rental income home outside of SF and someday they can sell it or move there.

    2. Listen lady. You talking about my mother in law and sister in law. They have lived their for over 45 years. Don’t hate because you’ve probably moved from place to place. Keep your stupid comments to yourself. My mother in law worked hard and is now retired and is being forced out of her home. That’s BS. It was your choice to live in a $2500 studio. If your that pissed off about the price then maybe you should be looking for a cheaper place to live. Don’t comment on shit you don’t know nothing about.

      1. It’s sad that this is happening, but your comment seems to be detached from any reality of the housing market or even how retirement security works. $2500 is not a nice studio in the city.

        1. its sad that you are trying to take what everyone say’s and make it wrong, that last comment I did was actually for you Mr. Know it all.

      2. The reality is that it isn’t her home, it’s someone else’s, one that she rents at an artificially low rate. That’s the thing about renting: You don’t OWN the space, and if the owner wants you out, their legal recourse is to use the Ellis Act. It sucks that your relatives might have to move out of this space, but no amount of lawyering will change any of that. If I were them, I’d push for a $100k pay out, and use that money as a down payment on a condo in Daly City or the East Bay, where homes can still be bought for under $500k. A friend just bought a 2 bedroom/2 bath condo in a nice area of Richmond for $400k, which with $100k down, would make a monthly mortgage well under $2k/mo.

        This guy sounds like an awful person, if everything in this article is to be believed… But that doesn’t change his ownership rights. Let this be a lesson to younger generations to try to work towards home ownership. If you can’t afford a market rate home, apply to the city’s Below Market Rate program. It’s our own responsibility to educate ourselves financially, because no one is just going to hand us financial literacy on a silver platter (unless you’re lucky enough to be born into it!). Playing a passive role or expecting that someone will always swoop down to save us, keep us in a home we don’t own and have no real legal right to is neither realistic nor reasonable.

    3. Ann,

      5 year old coming out of me, We were here first! You said it yourself the guys a jerk and the tenants have rights! I just want to know what products my people are buying from you all, so I can tell my people to stop buying instantly! You should not get business or support from my people. I think its time for you to find another city to take over Ann! you gets no love from FRISCO!

      PS: My grandma lives in that building that their trying to evict

      1. “We were here first” and “find another city to take over” are not particularly inspirational lines of reasoning.

    4. Wow, what an astonishingly vapid example of privilege. Oh Ann. You’re mad that you’re paying market rate for a studio that you moved into and you don’t like having to pay that. Well, if you don’t like YOUR rent, then move back to wherever you came from. You chose to move here to San Francisco and then want to bitch and complain about the real threat of homelessness that these folks are facing. You’re mad because they pay a lower rent because they chose to live here and set down real roots and raise their family here.
      Yes, the people who were born here and raised here SHOULD have a way to stay here and have a chance to raise our families here. We deserve to give our kids some of the same experiences we had as kids. We fucking helped bulld this city, so fuck yeah we have a claim to it. How about YOU leave.

    5. Ann,
      If you’re “struggling“ to pay $2500 a month to live here, then move! We’re full!! We don’t want you here! Your lack of compassion for the locals who were born and raised here will not be helpful to you or tolerated.
      You came here for a job that I’m sure pays you well, but you weren’t expecting this rental/living situation, were you? Well that’s the bullshit that those of us “who grew up here” have BEEN dealing with. We fight to remain here because it’s our home. Just remember that you still live here, and unless you’re willing to understand, comprehend and have compassion for what the local families are being put through then you will continue to get the backlash that you so deserve for saying/posting such privileged stupidity.

      1. All your arguments could easily be turned around:

        1. If you’re a rent-controlled tenant who can’t afford market rate if displaced, then move. We’re full.
        2. Your lack of compassion for people moving here to get a better job and improve their lives is not appreciated.
        3. You stayed here for family or community, but you weren’t expecting this bullshit huh? Well it’s also what we deal with – and we have it even worse without a sweet rent controlled apartment or $50k buyout to use as launchpad.
        4. We fight to remain here so we can take advantage of this place and how it can help improve our lives.
        5. Unless you’re willing to comprehend what it’s like to deal with market rate housing in San Francisco, you will continue to get the backlash you so deserve for posting from such below-market rate rent privilege.

        See? Easy to demonize the other. They’re not even the real problem.

    6. Yes and thanks to your thinking I am now fighting for my tiny apartment in my affordable city (that I locally work within and have lived all my life) 60 miles away because of the entitled rich. You are displacing people from their homes. People who pay taxes and work, and who got there before you did. These people are being pushed out to my small city and bloating the market with their high bay area pay, bringing their entitlement attitude and letting their unruly kids commit crimes. Even the homeless invaded.

    7. Pinche Puta…Dont like it, go back where you came from. Put yourself in their shoes. Oops they probably wouldn’t fit, because you have no idea of how it is to be pushed out of the only place you know as home for 20 years plus.

    8. Listen Ann,
      Kicking THEM out wouldn’t lower YOUR rent. Quit crying ya dumb bag of dicks and take you Karen-ass tf outta here. Would you sleep better at night if they were displaced? Would that alleviate all your financial woes? No, ya ignoramus. You’d still be paying twice as much as they would. As a Frisco native, we’re not hating on techies. It’s for funky-ass entitled attitude. What would be the big problem with just letting them stay? Hmm? What would it actually cost you personally to let them stay? Nothing. Have several fucking seats.

    9. Ann needs to go back where she came from. This sums up what’s wrong with the new people moving into SF. They don’t give a shit about their fellow neighbors as long as they get theirs, right? You’re horrible.

    10. I wish you could hear yourself. My God. Why do you deserve to live here? Because you make a lot of money?
      Because you work in tech? GMAFB

  5. Where were all of the complaints of raccoons, mold, etc. before new owner took possession? Sounds like a typical Ellis scenario: Buyouts offered>if declined>tenant gets free lawyer>start pattern of documenting sub-human living conditions>sue landlord>settle>move.

    Could avoid the entire process by settling in the beginning (often for more) but that might disrupt SF ecosystem of landlord-tenant service profiteers.

    1. Especially hilarious are all the lead paint complaints, as if anyone who’s lived in a unit for 45 years (started tenancy when asbestos and lead were the new hotness, even!) is shocked by its presence in their apartment. I’m sure they’d also protest any passthrough increases to cover abatement, claiming it was just a “renoviction”.

      1. JT why don’t you be quite no one asked you anything and stop speaking on what you don’t know nothing about. You don’t know our history or story of that building. You so smart chopping everyone’s comments up thinking you Mr. Know it all! You Probably working with the landlord or Ann, my family is not money hungry and as for the rest of the families they are not either. This is about human life and rights. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE SPEAKING ON SO DON’T SPEAK ON MY FAMILY.

        1. Sorry, but I haven’t mentioned anything about your family or the property currently being removed from the rental market. All the citations of lead paint complaints for this particular landlord are from other buildings. As I’ve said in other places: what’s happening to your family is tragic but also a fact of life in San Francisco for many decades. We should wonder why things haven’t changed, despite layers and layers of so-called tenant protections.

  6. What do you expect when the TV stations are running “Flip the House” informercials every day. As long as it is legal, and the stations are running the ads, people will flip houses. How do you change the greed culture?

  7. We stand with you Alabama street. Your neighbors are here to support you through this feeling process to keep you living where you’d like to live.

  8. I think journalism like this which suggest that tenants have a good shot at challenging and winning Ellis Act evictions is a disservice because they don’t, and many people regret not accepting a buyout when one was available. Only the lawyers win. To convince yourself of this: ask why the same Ellis Act expert property flippers keep buying tenant occupied buildings – why would they if their plans always fail?

    Agitation is great, however, for coming to the buyout negotiations with a strong bargaining position.

  9. This is a 5 unit building advertised at a 2.49% cap rate with $43136 in annual expenses when it was listed at $1,575,000. The unit mix is likely 2 and 3 bedrooms given that’s the usual for this kind and that there are 13 bedrooms total across 5 units. Suppose conservatively the one market rate unit is a 2 bedroom at $3500/mo in rent. That means the other four units total pay $1575000*.0249 + $43136 – $3500*12 = $40353 annually in rent, or about $840/mo on average.

    This is a building which recently had a ~$100k mandatory seismic retrofit.

    What a screaming deal for the tenants! You can imagine why they’re going to fight like hell to keep it. The shortfall from market rate they’re paying is as good as a million bucks in your retirement account withdrawn at 4% annually.

  10. My understanding is this according to the SF Tenants Union website: A ruling by the California Bureau of Real Estate said that TIC conversions in 5+ unit buildings must go through the state subdivision process. Tenants have defeated Ellis evictions in 5+ unit buildings because the landlord was offering the units but had not received California Bureau of Real Estate subdivision approval. If you live in a building being Ellised which has five or more units, make sure the landlord know about this ruling. If the landlord is actively selling the units as TIC units, you can also file a complaint with the California Bureau of Real Estate.

    1. Don’t take legal advice from the comments section. TIC conversions happen after the evictions, sometime during the end of construction. Title conversion is not a legal basis for contesting Ellis Act.

  11. John Markman, his poodle Rocco and his Segeway have given this city more joy and satisfaction than any of your technology Ann. You are but a mere cog in that industry. If you left tomorrow you would not be missed nor would anybody notice.

  12. Places change. Things Change. Nothing is ‘forever’. Move on. Why adult ‘children’ are still living at home is sad. Why squatters cause problems for neighbors/neighborhoods is also sad and wrong. There is no legal right to live in any place, apartment, city…people should understand you have to move out if you don’t have the money to buy the property. The city and any SF non-profit should NOT buy any building. There is enough free public housing projects all over. No one should get to live someplace for free and not have to contribute, pay real rents. Not pay property taxes. We are not a communist country. Rent control exists in Russia and other horrible countries. Live where you can afford it; that goes for people ‘born and raised in SF” and to newcomers too.

  13. This developer is notorious in his actions and attitudes towards manipulating people and lying to various city agencies in SF, Berkeley and Oakland. His tactic of boarding up access to bedrooms has been used before on his college ave condo conversion.

    That said, author should adjust the numbers in his article to add credibility. Something should be set aside for actual work a building developer needs to perform. So 4 times unit sales price, not 5, is more accurate.

    Too bad local governments do not track rapacious developers, and add more scrutiny to their projects.

    Campesino is a sorry example of a human.

    1. Rapacious developers built this home on 927-935 Alabama Street in which these tenants now live, and they were probably extremely wealthy at the end of their lifetimes.

      1. Property rights were a founding principle of The Enlightenment.
        Back in the day when the local tyrant owned everything you had down to your cooking pot.

        And, yeah, some of the more extreme manifestations of our local rent control ordinances can be seen as an infringement on the rights of property owners and one of the reasons Mr. Ellis comes knocking on your door.

        But this is not about property rights or “the law”.
        This is about right and wrong.

        This type of sociopath’s entire raison d’etre is to kick people out into the street.
        This ain’t Mom and Pop deciding to go out of the rental business.
        Or a family looking to move in with their elders occupying additional units.
        Ellis TIC flipping just ain’t right.
        This is America and we tend not to go along with “laws” that are glaringly wrong and unfair.

        And, Mr. Jake t, you’re correct – “Don’t take legal advice from the comments section”.
        Ellis can get very complicated but that also goes for the TIC flipper.
        Missteps happen and, if you have the right legal resources, you can walk the flipper into soiling his own pants and have the Ellis withdrawn.

        Regards,
        Carlos, veteran of a recent successful Ellis Act defense

        1. The Ellis will be filed again and the lawyers at Zacks are very good at following the process. Most importantly, a successful defense of the Ellis depends on a failure of the landlord to follow every step of the convoluted process — it’s a procedural defense instead of a substantive one. That means the defense may always be defeated by filing again with the right process. At best, frustrating the landlord will get you a better buyout.

          In a TIC, people own individual units. An owner’s imputed rent cannot be rent controlled. That is the logical way forward when the city so onerously regulates voluntary business relationships between tenants and landlords: create more tenants who are their own landlords. I don’t see how converting how title is held is such a tragic moral issue; our total mishandling of eg the drug problems on the street seems much worse in every sense.

          Relative move ins are not particularly easy to pull off, since they depend on proving “good faith” which creative tenant lawyers have lots of ways of questioning in front of a friendly jury. I’ve seen a RMI case be successfully appealed because an Asian couple did not ask their parents to share the costs of living in the building after moving. The jury believed this indicated that the family was not sincere about wanting their parents to live in the unit for 3 years. It was almost outright disrespectful to Asian culture.

  14. What kind of person elects to spend their time this way? Is it really that financially rewarding, or is there some other kind of gratification people who choose to make money this way derive from being so awful? Sick.

  15. I rarely comment but had to! If the landlord has indeed committed all these illegal acts as the journalist reports -and all these tenants claim, there would be MULTIPLE police reports, arrests and lawsuits and he would be in jail by now most likely. Otherwise it is hearsay, and defamation.
    Are you telling me that not a single one of these tenants called the police when their unit was “illegally” entered, etc?
    It’s a real shame to use these tactics (character assassination, the “tech guy is greedy” cliche, etc) to convey and sort out a social issue. It puts me off completely and I believe in socialism… but also fairness and do not condone defamation of character because this is what this article is all about really.

  16. I do not feel bad for any tenant who has been occupying a unit for over 20 years. They cram in grown kids and grandkids in the unit and never once in 25 years did they think to buy a home….it’s their own fault. Yes you are going to say I am callous and don’t understand..blah blah blah. My parents came to this country with nothing and no help. They not only worked their asses off but were able to buy a home in San Francisco and because of their example I was able to buy a home as well.

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