A tentative settlement agreement has been reached between the owners of a building at 1049 Market Street and the city in a dispute that has been in the news for over five years, thus stopping the evictions of around a dozen artists and other tenants.
As the Chronicle reports, 15 affordable dwelling units will be preserved in the seven-story building and consolidated onto the second floor, while the owners will now be able to reconvert the remainder of the building to office use, as they have been trying to since 2012.
An ownership group that includes former professional baseball player John Gall purchased 1049 Market Street in 2012, and have for years been engaged in legal battle with the city over whether they could evict the remaining tenants and convert the building back to its former office use. The tenants are a mix of mostly artists and senior citizens, most of whom have lived there for over a decade in live/work units with efficiency kitchens and shared bathrooms.
The first eviction notices came in 2013, when the owners attempted a mass eviction of all 84 units on the basis that they were illegal under city code. It was considered the largest mass eviction in the history of live/work units in San Francisco. The Board of Supervisors immediately intervened, but complicating matters was the fact that many of the units in the interior of the building are in fact illegal under SF building codes because they lack windows.
Multiple tenants left voluntarily, and in 2016, the owners invoked the Ellis Act to force out the remaining dozen or so tenants.
The San Francisco Planning Department further found that the landlords violated the city’s planning code for failing to obtain a permit to remove residential units for conversion to office use. The department also found that he violated the Interim Zoning Controls implemented by the Board of Supervisors for the Mid-Market area. Mr. Gall challenged the department’s findings, and over several years, the city and Mr. Gall filed more than a dozen lawsuits against each other in state and federal courts.
The latest settlement agreement resolves all the outstanding legal issues between the San Francisco and Ga including the pending Ellis Act evictions of tenants at 1049 Market Street.
In addition, it will preserve 15 income-restricted, affordable housing units on the second floor of the building, with $2.4 million in funding from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. The Tenderloin Housing Clinic will own and operate the residential units in the building.
Furthermore, the settlement allows Gall to re-convert the remaining floors in the building to office use.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced the agreement last Tuesday.
In a statement, Mayor Breed said, “Our arts community is such an important part of San Francisco and our culture, but artists, like so many others, are finding it difficult to survive in our increasingly expensive City.”
“As we grow and build the housing we so badly need, we also have to work to preserve the housing we already have to keep people stable in our communities,” she added.
On the other hand, Herrera commented, “The property owner illegally converted this building into residences. Then almost 20 years later they tried to kick everyone out in the middle of a housing crisis to illegally convert it back to offices and capitalize on the tech boom. You just can’t do that. The tenants were mostly artists, teachers and other working class San Franciscans.”
He also explained that the problem at 1049 Market Street was complex. Their focus was to end further displacement of tenants when they developed the solution to the problem.
According to Herrera, through the settlement, they were able to “ensure that the remaining tenants get to stay and that 15 residences will endure as permanently affordable homes for artists.”