We learned back in November of the case of four tenants occupying two rent-controlled units on the second floor of 198 Gough, which is also home to 20th Century Cafe and was, historically, built by famed cartoonist Rube Goldberg, an SF native, in 1911. The landlord was trying to evict the tenants under the Ellis Act, but now the Board of Supervisors has voted to make the building a cultural landmark, something which could stymie the landlord's attempt to turn the units into TICs, as the Chron reports.
Goldberg came back to San Francisco flush with cash after a stint in New York, drawing cartoons of complicated contraptions for the New York Evening Mail, and commissioned the building which now bears his name, R.L. Goldberg, in a frieze across the top of it. At yesterday's Board meeting, the Supervisors took a theatrical recess to go watch the chain reactions of what we now called a Rube Goldberg machine, which had been set up by students from Lowell High School starting at the top of the grand staircase in City Hall. Goldberg's granddaughter Jennifer George was also there to help.
The two three-bedroom flats upstairs are rented to two couples, one of whom is jazz singer Jacqui Naylor and her husband, pianist Art Khu, and the other is Domestic Violence Consortium executive director Beverly Uptown and her husband Dave Hill. Both are paying far-below-market rents of $1,200 and $1,300 a month, respectively, due to rent control and how long they've lived there.
As landlord Ken Hirsch told Hoodline last fall, "If I had a three-bedroom flat for $1,300 a month in Hayes Valley I wouldn’t want to move either." But, he said, the $2,500 he's getting in rent from the building isn't really paying the bills or helping with his retirement as he hoped it would when he bought the place 18 years ago. It's a classic conflict being played out in many ways across the city, because of the impacts of rent control on small-time landlords, but it's obvious why the tenants wouldn't want to be evicted in this market.
It remains to be seen whether Hirsch will move forward with the eviction regardless.