The first lesson in San Francisco real estate these days is: Know your history.

Before you rent, buy, promote, or otherwise get involved in a residential unit, tenant activists say, it’s critical to check and make sure that you aren’t taking someone else’s home — that you aren’t moving into a place that’s been cleared through an Ellis Act or illegal Owner Move-In eviction.

That’s not hard to do — the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project has an easy way to search an address and find out if there’s been an eviction. 

A case in point:

A real estate agent is using a video featuring drag queen Carnie Asada to promote the sale of high-end condos on Dolores St — in a building where a 98-year-old woman faced eviction and several others were displaced.

A real estate speculator working with the notorious serial evictors Urban Green first tossed out a family with a baby (two restaurant workers), an SF General Hospital nurse, a Balboa High School teacher and a special education teacher.

Then they set their sights on Mary Phillips, who resisted and fought for two years to keep her home. She ultimately died at 100, which allowed the speculators to clear out the entire place, renovate it to look fabulous, and put it on the market. 

Now Erin Thompson, the real estate agent is using a campy video hyping the fully renovated units, with Carnie Asada describing them as “Casa de Dolores” and talking about “what’s fabulous” about the place.

 

55 Dolores Street, San Francisco | Erin Thompson, Compass Real Estate from Circle Visions on Vimeo.

Carnie drinks a martini, then a bottle of champagne as she describes the condos, which are not priced on any listing yet but will sell for way more than $1 million each.

But there’s another side to the glamorous video, and you can see it here:

55 Dolores Street, San Francisco – Erin Thompson, Compass Real Estate from Circle Visions on Vimeo.

I spoke to Carnie by email, and she said she had “no idea” about the background of the evictions. She is horrified by the whole thing, and promised to ask the real estate company to take it down.

“I was hired not by the owner but by the real estate agent for a project we thought people would enjoy,” Carnie Asada said.

I understand how this can happen — you’re trying to make a living, and you do funny videos for real-estate sales reps, and you don’t check on the background of the buildings. 

But with the eviction epidemic, every property that isn’t brand new has a history, and that history might come back to haunt you. One way to slow evictions is to take the profit out — and if nobody will buy or rent an Ellised building, tenants lives will be saved.