In a small victory for tenants' rights, a mass eviction of more than 100 people from 1049 Market Street has been put on hold as the Planning Department looks into the historic residential use of the building, and contemplates penalties for its owners if they want to convert it to offices.
As the Business Times reports, the Department of Building Inspection and the Planning Department have worked out an agreement to suspend owner John Gall's proposed office conversion, pending further investigation and possible hearings by Planning.
News of the evictions, which would likely have been repeated in the next year at Gall's other property on the same block, 1067 Market, prompted an outcry from tenants' rights groups, and Supervisor Jane Kim stepped in to try to advocate for the tenants as well. Mayor Ed Lee even gave a comment on the case, saying, "We are building more housing now in our City than at almost any other time in our history. At the same time we are making sure that tenant protections and eviction prevention work are helping to keep people in their homes."
This all puts Gall and his investors between a rock and hard place, though, because Planning is now threatening impact fees and possible penalties for converting from residential to office and evicting all these people, but the building inspectors insist that if Gall keeps the building as residential he's going to have do something sort of magical with the 60 or so units in the central core of the building that have no windows, and are therefore not up to code. The thing is, Gall and the previous ownership have turned a blind eye to the problem for about 15 years, allowing full-time tenants to occupy these units and providing illegal, but cheap housing for hundreds of young artists, students, and others.
We're curious to see how this plays out, but for now, everyone gets to stay put as the city bureaucracy chugs along.