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Friday, September 17, 2021

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News + PoliticsTenants gather in the rain to halt eviction attempt

Tenants gather in the rain to halt eviction attempt

Google lawyer throwing out disabled tenant; activists vow to blockade sheriff’s deputies when they arrive

Supporters of a disabled tenant block the stairs to stave off her eviction
Supporters of a disabled tenant block the stairs to stave off her eviction

By Khaled Sayed

JUNE 10 — It was a rainy morning in San Francisco, but that didn’t stop community and housing activists from showing up at 812 Guerrero Street to block the eviction of a disabled tenant by a Google lawyer

The protesters gathered at 6am in the cold under umbrellas and heavy coats trying to warm up by  sipping on coffees and eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on the steps of the old Victorian house, ready to block the sheriff’s deputies if they showed up to evict Becky Bauknight.

She had been notified to expect an eviction at 6:01am, but the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t always carry out eviction orders at the exact time the courts and the landlords direct.

Bauknight is facing eviction from her small studio apartment on Guerrero Street for failing to file the paperwork to protest her eviction on time. Supporters say her disability prevented her from timely filing.

Google’s head of eDiscovery, Jack Halprin, is the owner of the building Bauknight lives in, and he successfully evicted three other tenants in the building already. He is in the process to getting rid of the rest of the tenants.

Halprin has never explained why he needs the entire building for himself.

Evan Wolkenstien, Bauknight’s neighbor, pointed out that he is also fighting eviction, but Bauknight can’t join the fight with the rest of the tenants. “She has been left vulnerable to the eviction process,” Wolkenstien said. “She doesn’t have the resources to move anywhere else, or the social network to help her out.”

Wolkenstien said that the protesters were there to let the sheriff know that Becky is vulnerable, and in need of help. “We also here to let Jack Halprin know that this is not a business transaction. This is deeply immoral,” Wolkenstien said. “We are also letting the neighborhood know about this. They should join us to help keep people in their homes.”

Claudia Tirado, Bauknight’s neighbor, is worried that Bauknight will have nowhere to go and will be forced to live on the streets. “Eviction processes are cruel enough to begin with, but evictions of people with disabilities are even worse,” Tirado said “We filed our paperwork, and I wasn’t aware that Becky didn’t until this past Thursday.”

Tirado described Bauknight as a nice quiet neighbor who never asked for help. “When she told me last week that she is getting evicted and showed me the Sheriff’s eviction notice, I contacted all the housing organizations on her behalf, asking them for help,” She said. “I’m so glad that people showed up to help and stand with her.”

The sheriff typically notifies tenants in advance when evictions are slated, so the protesters will be back and vow to block any future attempt to remove Bauknight from her home.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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79 COMMENTS

  1. Never blame the power of your opponents for your own failure to organize. People who came before us did. Since activism has become professionalized we’ve fallen further behind faster.

  2. Yes, perhaps the ad-hominum was a poor choice. Because it allows you to miss the entire point of my post – that these people seem to be ‘activists’ post-fact, rather than taking any action in trying to prevent the problem in the first place.

    In that way, they open themselves to the charge that perpahs they were only interested in the theatre aspect of this incident – rather than ACTUALLY helping this poor tenant starve off eviction!

  3. It is always good to see direct action. But that treats symptoms rather than does what radicals say should be done–addressing the root causes.

  4. They have kept a lot of people from being evicted, so yea, they have “succeeded at it.” Considering the powerful forces they are up against.

  5. Besides which, I expect that he has been arrested before, being a life long activist and all. I think he can deal with it.

  6. Medicated? I have been around activists that are big time stoners, but this crew does not strike me as fitting the bill. Lame ad hominum. They are devoted, focused, and know the law. They know what works because they have done it before.

  7. A lot of the new construction is for investors who don’t live here. That much is true, and some of the investors are from mainland china. But not all of them. Some are from Japan, Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Dubai and etc. Surplus capital roams the world looking for safe places with a stable economies to rest in. This is NOT an only in San Francisco thing, and it was not created by Ed Lee. But it is a shame that in a town with such a tight housing market, Loads of new housing is being build for people who don’t evan plan to live here, housing that will sit vacant for much of the time. Some of it will sit vacant most of the year, functioning on as vacation homes, and of course, investments.

  8. No trolling that I can see. Trolls start arguments just for the fun of it. I think you are saying what you really feel, and it makes sense to me.

  9. Yes he is entitled to live by himself. What is really to blame is a Western culture that has
    commodified “fear of death” into actions that fuel the illusion of “preventing death”
    expressed as entitlement to take what I want or wish without thought of harmful impact. I imagine that you might agree with me when i say “There is no peace when I would do you harm to prevent my death”.

  10. The same things that others like – he is pro-jobs, pro-growth, pro-development and pro-success.

  11. The point is that I could put those properties to some other use that does not provide rental homes to long-term residents. Or I could sell them to someone else who would put them to some other use.

  12. That is what I thought….You are a landlord, nothing wrong with that of course, but you are saying that you provide homes!! like you give them out for free.
    You run a business renting homes for profits. Don’t pretend that you are some kind of charity worker, you are a business person not a charity organization.

  13. Your politically correct remark is unsurprising — and sad. The term Chinese Oligarchy refers to the 300 million member Chinese “communist”/capitalist corrupt dictatorship and their families who rule over their billion and a half Chinese countrymen and women. They are buying up Africa, Europe, Latin America, and much of the USA. That is what I meant by the term Chinese Oligarchy: it is not “racist” or meant to be interpreted as such. I am in accord with your description of Ed Lee. However, mainland Chinese “investment” in the SF Bay area are what is creating the endlessly ugly landscape of ‘luxury condo high rises’ and the rest of that rubbish which has destroyed San Francisco’s uniquely gorgeous culture and livability.

  14. Scared to run vs. Lee! Ha! Prospective candidates have to have a billionaire to support their run vs. Lee. When Lee wines and dines with Ronnie Con, who is happy to give him whatever deals needed to keep his MONOPOLEE puppet in place… anyone who wants to go up against it would risk bankruptcy or, at best, destroying their financial lives and that of their families. Believe it folks, our media has been bought by Ronnie Con and City Hall has been too. SF is no longer a place for communities to thrive… except for the billionaire community.

  15. Failing at electoral and policy work does not necessarily mean that someone fails at direct action.

  16. “I consider the provision of homes to be a noble and gracious calling.”

    LOL! Only in your deluded world, Sam. There’s nothing noble or gracious about you.

  17. Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a SUPERHERO and if he were in jail, he’d be not only just FINE (he’s from olde timey Philadelphia, like me), but he’d ORGANIZE everyone in jail for another uprising.

    He’s the LAST person they want in jail nowadays.

    He’s more man than anyone who just types and types. Tommi has ALWAYS stepped the hell up for others. He’s not talk like the rest of us here.

    Myself included.

    And as for “Old Queens”? Oh my god, anyone who’d SAY or WRITE such a thing is obviously one of those new folks who don’t know any better. Forever fighting just to BE and EXIST as themselves all their lives, those “Old Queens” will kick ANYONE’S ass in a New York second.

    Truth is in who shows up: Trolls hide to be snide, Tommi’s fearlessly EVERYWHERE.

    You can’t TOUCH Tommi here or anywhere. He answers to a much higher calling than any of …this.

    Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a gift to this city.

    —Erika Lopez
    The Mission

  18. Lighten up, I was merely trying to inject a little levity into what was otherwise a rather morose mood here.

    I suspect Tommi would whimsically describe himself in much the same words. The phrase has a certain cachet in some gay circles, I have heard

  19. No, a speculator is different from a landlord. The former buys a building for the purpose of selling it fairly quickly, hoping to profit from evictions, remodels, conversions or just shifts in demand

    While a landlord buys a building for the purpose of providing homes. So when I say I have provided homes for over 100 people that is correct. The shortest time period I have owned a property for is about three years, which is nine lifetimes for a speculator.

    I consider the provision of homes to be a noble and gracious thing

  20. Anything can be removed without a permit. And if it cannot be seen from the exterior then nobody will be the wiser.

    I think you are asking about whether permits are theoretically and technically required for such work. Mostly not, as far as I know. You need a permit to REPLACE a kitchen but not for removing the fixtures and fittings.

    And you only need a permit to remove a load-bearing wall.

    Many property owners don’t bother with DBI permits because of the cost, hassle and impact on the Prop 13 cost basis

  21. “provided a home”

    “The provision of housing in SF is a vital service and benefit.”

    How kind.

    You are a speculative landlord who has come into this discussion to try to defend your position to have purchased property with the intent to profit, with taking zero responsibility for the fact that what you have intentionally done is accumulate wealth while speculating on people’s HOMES. In reading down this reply stream, you sound like a total asshole, with zero humanity about you, so why is it that someone like you should be in the position of responsibility over HOUSING people? You are a profit-driven speculator, clearly, and a major part of the problem of this city right now.

  22. please apologize to Tommi: your comment about him being “an aging queen” at 850 Bryant is beyond ugly – it serves no purpose except your gross narcissism

  23. marcos, you said above this protest was “successful”. Now you say it is not a success. Which is it?

  24. She would not have been evicted anyway because the sheriffs didn’t show up. And if they had have done, she would have gone. So the protest was on the wrong day.

  25. If she had that, she’d be a pro at working the system and would have responded. If this lady does have dementia, they she really should be living in supportive housing.

  26. The photo shows a group of people who have doing political work on housing issues since before forever, who have not succeeded at it, and are reduced to using direct action as a last resort.

  27. I was a volunteer for several organizations for more than 20 years, including a 10 year commitment on the board of one of them. I’m taking a break for a few years before I jump back in. I’ve also donated thousands of dollars to organizations.

    And you Sam, what have you done to help people in need?

  28. Ed Lee won a landslide election victory, has consistently had majority approval ratings and is heading for an easy re-election. Evidently the voters do not agree with you.

  29. It is legally sufficient. The real problem is that the city expects to push its welfare obligations onto unwilling private individuals.

  30. I don’t agree. Ed Lee is a puppet mayor for developers and venture capitalists. Tech workers are not to blame for anything other than being young and unaware of how they are being manipulated, and maybe some of them for their behaviors.

    What is this connection to mainland China? If there isn’t evidence, it seems like a racist thing to write.

  31. Ed Lee is behind all of this: SF has been sold down the river of doom. It is now an awful place to live because it is infested and dominated by the Technocracy and the mainland Chinese Oligarchy. David Chieu and Ed Lee helped make this happen.

  32. And just what have you done to help people in need?

    Let me reword your post for you:

    “The photo shows the same group of compassionate people coming together to again help someone in need.”

  33. Legal? Probably. But being tone-deaf in this ‘housing crisis’ and working for a high-profile company that has its share or gentrification issues, such as ‘the Google bus’ is going to work against him.

    Google should fire his ass for making them look worse.

  34. Good to see people doing successful direct action instead of just yelling in order to get funding.

    It was in the mid 50s this morning, this moisture was tropical in nature, it was hardly cold.

  35. Hmmm. The photo just shows a bunch of the same professional activists we see over and over and over and over again.

  36. Yeah, Tommi is a day late and a dollar short. And on what planet does he think he can stop SFSD? Becky should have moved out when she got the sheriff’s notice. It’s kinda undignified being hauled out of there by cops and having your stuff put out on the street.

    Let’s hope Mirk doesn’t have to put Tommi in an overnight cell at 850 because it’s not going to be pretty for an aging queen in there.

  37. I was thinking the same thing. How could the other tenants not have noticed that Becky wasn’t going along with them. Perhaps they could have done the paperwork for her or found a friend/relative to act on her behalf.

    So yes, Halprin is a pile of diseased protoplasm but it is a strange situation.

  38. So, again, as bad as I would feel for this tenant if it were me (and not too far off, really), exactly where were these several dozen “helpful” people (and co-tenants) when Becky got her notice(s) and had to file her p/w?

    This makes great press coverage; but the underlying reality is that this could easily been ameliorated or even prevented. If only one (or probably several, medicated as they probably are) had spent the same amt of time helping Becky as they did donning their rain gear this morning. AND, they could have done it at a decent hour, too!

    Halprin is not the only one with ‘google’ on his shoes.

  39. Ah, OK, then that might be grounds for a suit for wrongful eviction. But the eviction still worked if that tenant moved, so it didn’t fail. It’s just that Halprin may have to pay some compensation, or his insurance company will.

  40. According to some sources, he performed an OMI for his partner, who never actually moved in. If so, that sounds like it definitely could be grounds for legal action. Again, not so sure he did his homework here.

  41. The failed evictions can presumably be refiled. There is ultimately no defense to an Ellis.

    And yes, the city may deny a permit to merge the flats. But there are various things he can do without permits to live in the house as a single dwelling. He can take out doors, stud walls and partitions, remove surplus kitchens and so on.

  42. Even if his plan all along was to have the whole place to himself, what is wrong with that? He is entitled to live by himself in a large house if that is what he wishes for, and the law supports that.

    Isn’t the real problem here that the city has tried to outsource the housing of poor, old and disabled people to unwilling property owners? And that the drawbacks of that are quite obvious?

  43. Well, he failed in efforts to evict a couple of tenants, and I believe there are some local laws regarding merging of units that he still could face troubles with. I’m not so sure he actually did think this through.

  44. Sam, the guy’s a lawyer. We can assume that he did due diligence before buying a home and didn’t stumble into it. There is every indication that his plan all along has been to kick the tenants out and have the whole place for himself.

  45. I can only guess about Halprin’s motivations and of course, ultimately, it doesn’t matter what his motivations are. Ellis requires no cause or motive, which is why Ellis is so difficult to defend against.

    It’s possible that he didn’t realise how invasive rent control really was, and thought either that the tenants would move out by agreement or that being a landlord would be an easier occupation than it really is in this town. It’s not unusual for out-of-towners to be shocked at how rent control works here.

    So I am willing to believe that he turned to Ellis only when he realised that he didn’t want to be a landlord any more. I would add that some of his tenants did not help their situation very much by protesting the Google shuttles, for instance. That isn’t exactly going to endear an owner to you if he works for Google.

    Or it could just be a financial thing. The building will be worth more vacant, and then he either sell, form TIC’s or simply find a way of integrating the flats into a single family home.

  46. “Halprin has never explained why he needs the entire building for himself.”

    You just don’t get it, do you? Halprin doesn’t have to tell you why he wants a vacant building. In fact, he doesn’t even have to have a reason. All that matters is that, clearly, he wants a vacant building. That is sufficient.

  47. The guy is vermin. I really wonder how this goes over with his co workers? I doubt any of them down there at Google are paragons, if I worked with someone that sleazy it would be hard not to call “scumbag” on him.

  48. Proud of all the supporters of these tenants! I hope this ends well for tenants… can’t imagine where they can move in this frenzied real estate market!

  49. As a troll, I would like to state for the record that even I think that Halprin is a cross between a urinal cake and disease carrying pond scum. Somewhere beneath bedbugs and only slightly above Peskin on the evolutionary scale.

    The guy has been blessed with a good education, job and money. So he wants a nice place to live in the Mission. Fine.

    But when the broker tells you that there is a place for you to buy BUT you’ll have to kick out 10 people who don’t have nearly as much money as you…you don’t stop and say “no, I just can’t do that…keep looking”?

    Maybe he should Google “burning in hell”.

    Now here is the troll part…this has been going on for a long time. Where was the supervisor’s office (Campos? Kim?). How come, in such a high profile case, they did not know that a vulnerable tennant was involved.

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