1266-68 Hampshire Street is dated back to 1855, and may be the city's oldest house.

It’s rough to be evicted from the only home you’ve ever really known, which was the case for the younger members of the Carcamo family (and, considering the 32 years they’d lived at 1268 Hampshire St., even some who are not so young).

But, sadly, in San Francisco and the Mission, it’s hardly possible to write a full news story about every Latinx family ousted from its longstanding home so it can be sold, for an astronomical price, to someone drawn in by its “Fab location, just steps from dining, entertainment, MUNI/BART and area freeways.” 

But, four years ago, we did write about the Carcamos. The Ellis Act eviction of the Carcamos “was not particularly vicious,” their attorney David Tchack told us in 2018. “This is what a lot of contemporary San Francisco landlords do. These speculators come in and buy properties. They have no intention of being a landlord, and Ellis Act the tenants to turn around and sell the property. … It happens all over the city.” 

But even then, the details of their unfortunate odyssey beggared belief. Now, they almost feel like a parody of the San Francisco condition. 

The Carcamos didn’t just have four generations of a Salvadoran family living in any old crumbling Mission home beset by decades of neglect and unwarranted construction, and owned by a dodgy landlord (who, in fact, was a federal criminal). Their former home, at 1266-68 Hampshire, has a claim as the oldest house in San Francisco, dating back to at least 1855 and possibly earlier. 

It was built by John Treat, brother of George Treat, the namesake of Treat Avenue. The Treat brothers, at one point, owned a race track and vast swaths of San Francisco. So vast that, after the Carcamos were finally evicted in 2017, they ended up in an apartment on land also once in the Treat brothers’ holdings. 

Sarah Carcamo in the front yard of what may be San Francisco’s oldest home, circa 1989. Her family left the property several years ago after an Ellis Act eviction. “Everyone fell down those steps,” she recalls with a laugh.

So, that was the story in 2018. Four generations of a Latino family, including a nonagenarian abuela, her retirement-age son and his wife, their 30ish daughter, Sarah Carcamo, and Sarah’s two kids were all evicted from the “oldest house” in San Francisco so it could be subdivided into four luxury condos.

But, four years later, it turns out there was room for this story to grow even more jaw-dropping — even more on-the-nose. 

The Carcamo family was evicted from the city’s “oldest house,” which was subdivided into four luxury condos, which were then used as potentially illegal Airbnbs. 

“Host indicates living in Oakland CA in AirBnB listing, thereby violating the Administrative Code Chp 41A requirement for permanent residency,” reads the notice from the Office of Short-Term Rentals. 

That case was listed as open on March 30, and it remains open. But unless the host was inexplicably telling tales on their profile page about residing in Oakland, it’s hard to see how this wasn’t a violation of city rules, which don’t allow people to flog units as Airbnbs in which they don’t live 275 nights out of the year. 

So, yes, that would be even more on-the-nose, even more of a parody of present-day San Francisco. Four generations of a Salvadoran family were evicted from their home of 32 years so it could be subdivided into four luxury condos, sold, and then turned into a questionably legal tourist flop. 

“The people going in and out now are younger and clearly not working-class folks like Sarah and her family,” says former longtime neighbor Arnie Warshaw. “To throw people out so other people could come here on vacation? Gee whiz. That’s the story of San Francisco.” 

Luis Carcamo, “El señor de las plantas,” in front of his former longtime home.

It is, and that’s the story Sarah Carcamo and her family unwillingly have found themselves a part of. But, over the past four years, their own stories have taken a number of turns. Some of them are good and some are not. But, notably, these are still San Francisco stories. The Carcamos are holding on. 

The pandemic prompted Luis Carcamo, Sarah’s father, to do something that eviction and advanced age — he is 80 — could not do. He retired. And his retirement gift from the government? It ceased paying him unemployment. 

Luis’ wife, Norma, 77, is a paid caregiver for Maria Fuentes, her 98-year-old mother. They live near La Raza park in a home owned by the mother of a cousin’s daughter. It’s complicated; she’s separated from the cousin. 

The street abuts the high wall next to the freeway, and is secluded like a cul-de-sac. This leads to a high level of isolation. And, in the big city, weirdness. Strange people have tried to talk to her visiting adolescent daughters into opening the gate. Sarah Carcamo fears for her aging relatives living there. 

Luis’ mother used to be able to sit among the trees and plants in the front yard on Hampshire Street. They were cultivated by Luis, who was known as El senor de las plantas. Now, Fuentes is essentially housebound and deeply unhappy. 

Luis is still walking back into the old neighborhood to buy groceries and see all the people he knows. These walks sometimes take three hours now, and the family grows nervous. More than once, Luis has fallen. Not so long ago, he was struck by a van as it backed out of a parking spot. 

In a concession, Luis will take the bus now instead of walking. But service is down. Now that he needs it, the bus isn’t coming. 

‘The Hampshire Girls’ in the late 1980s or early 1990s

As for Sarah Carcamo, she won the housing lottery. It has been a mixed blessing, but, still, a blessing. 

She, her boyfriend, and her two daughters were some of the lucky few to gain entry to an affordable housing project in the Tenderloin. They have a three-bedroom apartment and the rent is positively 1994. “We love it.” 

The neighborhood, however: It’s less lovable. 

Sarah Carcamo is not a naive person. The Mission she grew up in was a violent and dangerous place. “But I’ve seen things here [in the Tenderloin] that I never saw in my life growing up in the Mission,” she says. 

But the things she sees now in the TL are not so much dangerous as chaotic and lawless: Abject misery and drug use on the streets, and wanton theft in the stores. “It saddens me to see all these young people and older people emptying out the shelves,” she says. “They go in there like it’s their house and take what they want.” 

This is a hard place to raise daughters. It’s not as bad as things were in her youth, but it’s still bad — bad in its own way. 

Meanwhile, despite her luck in finding a place to live, Carcamo has had enough setbacks that her mother wonders if someone gave her the Evil Eye. 

Her daughters still go to school in the old neighborhood. A couple years ago, while taking them to school in an Uber, the car was rear-ended. Carcamo suffered knee and back injuries; there are days when she can barely walk. Everyone has had Covid-19, and her children have had a number of other maladies, some requiring emergency hospitalization. 

Because of her children’s school, Carcamo frequently finds herself in the Mission. She is between jobs, and, like her father, has time to talk to the people who populated her past. And the house is still there, too, playing a changing role in a changing neighborhood in a changing city. 

Carcamo, now 38, often thinks of a night at the old house, back when she was around 10 years old. The place was in such poor shape that the wall and roof literally collapsed on her and her sister while they were in their beds doing homework. 

But the Carcamos were hard-working folks who didn’t think about litigation. The landlord had someone the Carcamos’ cousin knew come in and do sheetrock and painting and that was it. 

“I ask my mom why we didn’t do anything about that,” Sarah Carcamo says now with a wry laugh. “We could’ve sued that landlord. We could’ve owned that building.” 

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. Sure it would suck if someone new invention (www) changed your hometown, but it’s life, and changes happen. Better than ending up like Detroit.
    Sure people might appear more selfish now, but nearly everyone in town has to hustle to make it here. The new owner probably has to hustle too to cover all the expenses including Sf Property taxes. Many people have it way worse.
    Enough blaming landlords, accept that having a cheap rent might not mean it’s not forever.
    4 generations! For most people that probably ended half a century ago as kids had to go out in the world and make it on their own. That’s life all over the world, only in SF is it ‘news’.

  2. 1268 Hampshire is only 3 blocks from La Raza park, where they now live next to. How in the world does it take 3 hours to “the old neighborhood”????

  3. it is simpistic and easy to villanize landlords and tenants. what we should understand is the cheap money made possible by the federal reserve for the past decades has fueled investment with greater returns. (who wants to have 1000’s of dollars tied up in a CD or savings for years earning 2%?) one only has to look at the recent stock market crash to understand how investment in stocks has seriously diminished now that money is no longer cheap. cheap money fueled artficial growth. the same is true for real estate. decades of cheap money has been used to acquire properties leading to ever higher prices for a home. look up REIT.

    the reality is a disproportinate number of citizens of limited wealth are dependent on the financial system of the United States. so it is wholly supported by our government even though that very financial system by design requires many to lose in order to maintain the accumulation of wealth for a few.

    yenz kids have the power to change that.

  4. I’m from the Mission too and I’m about the same age as Sarah. The difference between us? I went to school, grinded hard when I graduated, worked my ass off to rise the ranks in my profession, saved everything I could for 15 years, and bought a home in San Francisco last year. No one will ever throw me out of this city. Difference between us? I’m not looking for a pity party, I do for myself.

    1. My God the comments here showing a total lack of empathy or understanding that others may not be able to do what you did, or have what you have is depressing. This city has filled up with selfish people.

  5. Instead of fantasizing about suing their landlord for sheetrock replacement, why didn’t any of them think of buying their own place? The mission was inexpensive in the 1980’s to early 90’s. (I know several multi generational Latino families that worked hard, committed, pooled resources and brought here went it was not an expensive neighborhood.) You can’t rent forever at super cheap rents on someone else’s dime. Rent control is a crutch that cons people into a false sense of permanent cheap housing. San Francisco is not static, and you can’t expect property owners to collect a fraction of the market value forever. While blaming the property owner is an easy, convenient, and popular scapegoat, you need to take some responsibility in this equation too.

    1. Poor property owners having to face regulations and be scapegoated. It’s not their fault the market went crazy and renters are fucked.

      And damnit, if you know several Latino families that pulled it off, then there is no excuse for the Carcamo family. When I look at that stellar, hella classy photo of Sarah and her sisters/cousins, I think like you – “why weren’t they pooling their piggy banks??”

    2. I know a Salvadoran family that was evicted in the 1990’s from the Mission. They bought a house in San Bruno for 200K, now it’s worth 1.5 million ! Being evicted was the best financial thing that ever happened in to them
      .

    3. Some people don’t have the resources to go above and beyond to do certain things like purchasing a home.
      It’s sad to see how they got evicted just to sell and make so much money out of the building not even to make it liveable but use it as an illegal Airbnb. Sad to see what you see in the mission now. All the mission natives being displaced.

      Now a days everyone sues for the smallest of things. I totally agree with Sarah, her parents should have sued. Luckily no one was hurt by a landlords irresponsibility …

  6. “We could’ve sued that landlord. We could’ve owned that building.” Sentiment like this is partly why small landlords are unwilling to rent. In a rental situation where rents stay the same for decades but the cost to maintain the building is market-rate, are you willing to take a loss for someone else? And possibly lose your house altogether because you are sued?

    Rent control has its place but it should be government subsidized. Right now the burden to take care of someone else’s “right to housing” falls on individual landlords and some of them are incapable or unwilling. We can’t go to a restaurant and demand 1990s prices for food. Food is also a right and we have government programs for food, so why not for housing?

    1. Oh, so you let your building fall apart and nearly harm a tenant and it is the tenants fault?
      And the feds will not even fund low income housing due to the GOP that hates poor people.

      1. Good answer. Horrible to oive with. But I’m glad it came straight from you, Sarah. People need to realize you aren’t just the subject of something they’re reading. You are real. Very real. And very hurt. That is your home. As much money and work as all of you put into it for all those years, you deserved a chance to stay in it. Period. And no I’m not promoting TOPA as it is. I’m talking about real tenants and real chances to own their long term homes.

  7. To the “funny” people commenting who seek to make this story all about landlords, property and market values: EFFING FOUR GENERATIONS OF HUMAN BEINGS WERE DISPLACED BY BOGUS BS. SF’s and the nation’s Free Market Capitalist System harms real people. We have a nationwide affordable housing CRISIS to do with truly affordable housing. Here is a hideous story of eviction of grandmas, grandpas, moms & dads and their children so that Airbnb tourists could toodle while folks making lower wages were ousted from their home of three decades. Don’t like tents on the sidewalk or houseless folks at the laundromat or across from Trader Joe’s? Well then….. don’t let dirtbag landlords evict families. Duh.

    1. There is nothing “free market capitalism” about San Francisco’s housing market. This was an outcome local voters have prioritized with their policies for half a century.

  8. Renting is defined as temporary and only fools think it entitles them to live someplace until they die. The truth is, if housing is a “human right”, even speculators and rich people, have the same right to that said housing, if they want to pay for it. Married people have a right to divorce, Landlords should have the same right. After all tenants can sever the relationship at will, why should the relationship be governed by two separate wholly unfair rules for each party in what is a commercial transaction? I’m getting tired of leftist emotional ignorance, ignoring reality.

    1. >> Married people have a right to divorce, Landlords should have the same right.

      This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
      Best of luck to Tanya on her emotional vendetta against “leftists” – she sounds lovely.

      1. It makes sense to me. When you get married you promise to stay together “till death do you part”. Do tenants and land lords make that same promise? Yet either one of a married couple can still seek a divorce.

      2. In Shaira law, the husband can divorce the wife, just by saying out loud “ I divorce you “ but the wife cannot. Not any different than landlord tenant relations in San Francisco.

    2. Agreeing with Tanya. Renting by definition means that either party can walk away when it suits them, and although this story is sad for Sarah Carcamo, this is why rent control never works and will always create these stories.

      Rent control decreases affordability for those living around and causes gentrification because it decreases supply of available housing. When rent control continues for a long time, the difference in rent between the rent controlled units versus the market rate will be huge enough that any rational landlord will find a way to kick out tenants to get the market rate, especially in this economy. Which is how this story happened.

      1. Renting is a legal agreement and nobody takes a dictionary to a rent board hearing, much less a court of law. Not like you nailed the definition anyhow.