By Sara Bloomberg
DECEMBER 16, 2014 — Sometimes he drives to work, but this morning Jack Halprin decided to take a private shuttle to his office at Google.
Housing advocates were awaiting him.
Shortly before 7 am, around a dozen protesters blocked a tech shuttle from leaving its stop at 18th and Dolores streets when someone in the group started yelling, “He’s walking down Guerrero!”
Maybe Halprin thought he could sneak by the loud group—and their signs denouncing him—unnoticed. But no such luck.
Halprin, a lawyer for Google, is using the Ellis Act to evict the remaining tenants at 812 Guerrero St., a seven unit building tucked between the bustling Valencia commercial corridor and Dolores Park.
And the question on everyone’s minds since he served the eviction notice last February is: Why does he need a seven unit building all to himself?
After his failed attempt to board the bus, protesters followed Halprin up Dolores Street and over to 812 Guerrero, where he already lives in one of the units. A previous tenant was evicted under the pretense that Halprin’s now-former domestic partner would be moving in, too.
His partner never moved in and Halprin is being sued by the former tenant.
With Halprin holed up in his apartment, protesters continued to chant and rally outside on the steps.
“Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more,” they chanted.
Decades of inaction from the city has contributed to the housing crisis but tech tax breaks along mid-Market and a lack of new housing development around Silicon Valley, where many tech companies are based, has exacerbated the problem in San Francisco.
Longtime San Francisco resident David Feinstein echoed the frustration with this climate.
“I don’t think Mayor Lee is doing anything. He’s not talking to the tenants, or talking to the building owners. You know? Nothing’s being done,” Feinstein said. “It just keeps happening. And it’s not just a matter of getting rid of people–where are they going to go? There are no solutions.”
As tech companies try to one-up each other (and themselves) by throwing lavish staff holiday parties, the sector is increasingly making itself seem out of touch.
“You don’t want to party with us. You don’t want to ride the bus with us. You don’t want to live with us,” Claudia Tirado, one of Halprin’s tenants, said.
Tirado is a public school teacher and lives in one of the units with her boyfriend and their three-year-old son. They are facing eviction.
Hanukkah begins at sundown tonight, and while most people are familiar with it as the Jewish “Festival of Lights,” the narrative is more than just a myth about one day’s worth of lamp oil lasting for eight.
The story involves a Hebrew clan, the Maccabees, that successfully fought off the much larger Persian army. The temple was destroyed, a miniscule bit of lamp oil was found in the ruins that lasted over a week and now we have dreidles, chocolate gelt and latkes…
For Evan Wolkenstein, a local teacher and a tenant of 812 Guerrero for 10 years, the arrival of the holiday is particularly salient.
“I see that as a holiday about fighting oppression through standing up and fighting back.” Wolkenstein said. “When I light candles tonight, it’ll be about my own fight, yes, but I also feel like my own fight should kindle me to be fighting for those who have less power and less voice than I do.”
Protesters left the property around 7:30 am. Halprin didn’t come out to address the crowd.