With rent increases and evictions all too commonplace in the Bay Area, it's now the most extreme examples — last year's massive rent hike on a Bernal Heights apartment, to name just one — that capture our attention to represent the crisis at hand. Such is the case of Neil Hutchinson, a six-year resident of North Beach facing a rent increase from $1,800 to $8,000 on a three-bedroom apartment. First ABC 7 and then SFGate had the story of that 344 percent hike. Hutchinson's landlord's subsequently served him an eviction notice that the a 47-year-old video engineer is fighting before the rent board.
Hutchinson moved in to the rent-controlled unit with two existing roommates in 2010 and claims he signed a lease at the time. "I lived here a long time," he tells ABC7, "I pay my rent on time." Then, in July of last year, the master tenant on the lease moved out. Now the landlord maintains Hutchinson isn't on the lease. "They've accepted money from me," the tenant tells SFGate. "I filled out an application. They are saying the lease is not applicable to me. As far as I'm concerned the rent control should apply to me."
Hutchinson has appealed to the rent board, but he may be evicted before that body rules on the legality of the rent increase: He's supposed to be out of his apartment by July 21. Hutchinson adds that while he can't afford to stay in his current apartment, he also can't afford to leave San Francisco. "If I have to move to say Vallejo, it would be very economically hard to produce the same number of hours," he explains to SFGate. "My life is in San Francisco. I don't have a car. The commute would be brutal to my career."
The current median rent per month for all units of any size in North Beach is $6,850 according to a Trulia estimate. Hutchinson's place has a minor historic tie in, having been shot for scenes in Clint Eastwood's 1988 The Dead Pool. It's also, he says, in pretty deplorable condition.
The story of Hutchinson's eviction comes shortly after word in San Francisco magazine of a Mission dwelling kindergarten teacher who faces eviction for using appliances to cook for herself and her daughter. Her unit, which apparently lacks a proper stove, is technically illegal, but the Board of Supervisors has offered protections to tenants from eviction by landlords just because the units they inhabit may be illegal. This time, though, the new landlords are arguing that the teacher's behavior is a "nuisance," a novel legal approach.