Rising Rents Shot San Francisco Eviction Rates Up 170% in Three Years

That squeezed out feeling San Francisco residents have been complaining about isn't just psychosomatic. A new study shows that evictions—especially ones where units are taken off the rental market—have "skyrocketed," reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The report by the city's budget and legislative analyst was requested by Supervisor David Campos and shows that Ellis Act evictions, often used when a landlord wants to eject tenants in order to sell the units, jumped by 170 percent from the year ending February 2010 to the year ending February 2013. During the same period, there was a 38 percent increase in all evictions, while home prices in San Francisco rose by 22 percent over the three-year period.

Most of those Ellis Act evictions happened in a handful of neighborhoods:

The Mission District, where housing prices rose by nearly 30 percent over the three-year period, topped the list, with 71 between 2009 and 2013. The other areas with high numbers of Ellis evictions were Russian Hill, the Castro, the Inner and Outer Richmond, North Beach and the Haight-Ashbury/Western Addition.

In a recent article in San Francisco Magazine, Farhad Manjoo argued that the word "boom" was the wrong way to describe the startup revival because "It carries the threat of immediate displacement."

Critics of the Ellis Act call the law a "key mechanism for undermining San Francisco’s rent control laws." An informational site put together by advocates for tenants rights says:

The state law gives landlords the right to evict all tenants, even if they have always been good tenants and paid their rent on time. The use of the Ellis act is a legal deception where owners pretend to go out of business. In actuality they aim to create new expensive housing options in the form of group-owned tenancy-in-common flats or condos. Condos are forever exempted from rent protections even if subsequently rented out.

New expensive housing options, you say . . .

On BeyondChron, Dean Preston, an attorney at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, ended an article about Ellis Act evictions in North Beach by saying: "This is how a city changes." A September article from the SF Examiner tied it all back to the tech industry:

Ellis Act evictions and the alternative — buyouts — have tripled since the beginning of the year, with high numbers in Chinatown and North Beach, according to Ted Gullicksen, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union.

"There's really no defense for this type of eviction," Calimbas said.

The driving factor pushing housing demand above supply is once again a red-hot tech industry, which was the case in the late 1990s as well.

But the Ellis Act isn't responsible for all evictions. For example, dozens of artists who live and work in Mid-Market, near Twitter's new tax-friendly headquarters, recently won a reprieve from regular old eviction. At the time, the San Francisco Chronicle said:

Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes the building, both applauded the action.

"We are making sure that tenant protections and eviction prevention work are helping to keep people in their homes," Lee said in a statement.

Let's not forget where Ed Lee gets his $4 toast buttered, though.

[Image via antievictionmappingproject.net]