One of the last off-the-real-estate-agents-radar bastions of cheap housing in the city looks primed to be the next frontier in the gentrification wars, and that's Chinatown. A new piece in the Examiner highlights the story of one family who've been in the same apartment since 1979 and who are now the last holdouts in an 8-unit building whose new owner is trying to evict them via the Ellis Act this week.
The Lee family, which consists of elderly couple Gum Gee Lee and her husband, Poon Heung Lee along with their 48-year-old disabled daughter, are facing eviction on Wednesday if no one is able to intervene. Their landlord is within his rights to evict them because of the 1985 law that allows landlords to "go out of business" by removing their rental units from the market for a period of at least three years. The law has been used more and more in the last decade to evict longtime tenants in rent-controlled apartments in order to convert buildings to condominiums.
The landlord in this case has already used the Ellis Act to empty a building in North Beach and resell the units as TICs starting in the $400,000 range.
As of earlier this year, evictions of all kinds across the city hit a 12-year high.
Last year, Randy Shaw of Beyond Chron pointed to a real estate outfit called Urban Green Investments who were targeting buildings in Chinatown, North Beach, and the Mission and forcing similar evictions. In one case they evicted a 97-year-old woman from a building at 55 Dolores.
We're unclear, though, on how these landlords are encouraged to create TICs that won't be able to condo convert, according to a June vote by the Board of Supervisors, until 2024, and even then it will be by lottery. In that decision, the Board voted to clear the lottery backlog of existing TICs that want to convert, but new conversions could not begin again for 10 years, and no buildings of more than four units can ever convert which, if we're reading correctly, means this 33-unit luxury building that's going TIC can never go condo. Or are we confused? Or are we seeing the creation of a new kind of co-op, like Manhattan has, that will never become a condo and will always be owned by the group?