Wednesday, January 20, 2010

SF Landlord using Ellis Act to evict seniors in their 80s and 90s

For more than a year a landlord in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood has been trying to use the Ellis Act to evict his tenants, all of whom are seniors and all of whom have lived in the building for more than 20 years.

The landlord, Jim K. Ma, wishes to vacate the building so he can convert the units and sell them as tenancies in common (TIC). Many of the Chinese American tenants are in their 80s and 90s including a 90 year-old World War II veteran.

As State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano was quoted in a New York Times article, “This is a Grinch that stole a bit of humanity here. The weather is cold, the tenants are older. It’s a very, very crass abuse of the Ellis Act.”

Tenants and advocates have stage rallies denouncing the evictions and the Chinatown Community Development Center is suing the landlord on behalf of the tenants. This week CBS 5 TV ran a story on the evictions that included a telling interview with Steven MacDonald, the attorney representing the landlord.

According to MacDonald, there's no reason to worry about evicting 90-year-old seniors from their homes because these tenants are Asian Americans and their families are "brain surgeons. . . they're smart, hard-working industrial people, addicted to the acquisition of real estate."

According to the CBS 5 report community advocates responded to such remarks saying, yes these tenants have families, "but they are low income and can not support these renters."

Watch the TV news report and raw footage of the disturbing interview with the landlord's lawyer below (video coming soon).

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