Last we heard about the embattled tenants of 1049 Market Street, the remaining group of them who have not moved of their own accord (it remains unclear just how many there are, but it's at least several dozen) were suing landlord John Gall over issues of disrepair and lack of security in the building ever since the talk of eviction arose last fall. As of yesterday, the tenants won a fresh reprieve when Gall decided to withdraw an appeal he had filed over the suspension of his demolition permit.
A protest was planned today on the steps of City Hall ahead of Gall's appeal hearing.
Gall's permit, which would have allowed him to knock out walls between the 75 SRO-style units in the building in order to convert the building back to its former office use, was suspended after city building inspectors did a recent tour of the building and decided they had discretion to require Gall to install light wells between interior units an extremely costly renovation that Gall has said is not economically feasible.
At issue, you see, is that some percentage of units in the building are not legal dwelling units because they have no windows, something that the Department of Building Inspection has known since 2007, and something Gall was perhaps banking on in allowing him to convert the building to much more lucrative office use. Tenants in the building, many of whom pay less than $1000 for studio units with small kitchenettes and shared bathrooms, range in age from their 20s to their 60s, and some have lived there 10 years or more. The building was converted to live-work units in the late 90s by a former landlord, and all the units at the front and rear, with windows, remain legal units.
With the help of the Housing Rights Committee and Supervisor Jane Kim, the tenants who did not accept $5,000 lump sum relocation payouts were able to get the eviction process halted temporarily in November, and now Gall's battle with DBI and the City will likely be going on for many months. He picked a bad time, politically, to try to remove 75 affordable housing units from the market.