San Francisco landlords targeted for elder abuse

Activists gathered outside the Hall of Justice.

Lisa Gray-Garcia, aka “Tiny,” led a press conference outside the San Francisco Hall of Justice Feb. 5 to announce that she and fellow activists were filing elder abuse charges against San Francisco landlords.

Clad in a gray pantsuit and flanked by activists and senior citizens who were facing eviction or had lost housing in San Francisco, the Poor News Network founder condemned landlords who’ve invoked the Ellis Act as “dangerous criminals.”

Gray-Garcia said criminal charges were being filed against the landlords in accordance with California Penal Code 368, which creates a special category for crimes – such as infliction of pain, injury or endangerment – committed against elders and dependent adults.

The theory is that carrying out an Ellis Act eviction against a senior citizen qualifies as a criminal act under that law, since an elder can suffer physical harm as a result of being turned out of his or her home.

The targeted landlords were taken from a list compiled by the San Francisco Anti Eviction Mapping Project, a volunteer-led group that published names, property ownership, and identifying information of 12 landlords who had repeatedly invoked the Ellis Act in San Francisco. Garcia read out their names as part of the press event.

Beyond that, however, the announcement was short on specifics. Gray-Garcia told the Bay Guardian she did not want to share the names of the affected seniors because she did not feel comfortable exposing the elderly tenants to potential backlash.

Joining the group of activists was an 82-year-old woman who used a walker and declined to share her name. She told the Bay Guardian she had lived in her Richmond District flat for more than 30 years, and had recently received a verbal warning from her landlord that if she did not move out, he would invoke the Ellis Act.

When Gray-Garcia and others filed into the San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon’s office inside the Hall of Justice, however, Chief Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo first told them that they should complain to the police department, then scheduled a meeting with them at a later date.

Here’s how it went:

Guardian video by Rebecca Bowe

In order of appearance, speakers include Erin McElroy, a tenants’ rights advocate; Gray-Garcia; a District Attorney staff person whose name we didn't catch; Woo, and Anthony Prince (there because he is campaign manager to Green Party gubernatorial candidate Luis Rodriguez, who spoke at the press conference).


are fully following the law, which exists for precisely this purpose and only this purpose.

If Erin doesn't like it then she should try and get the law changed, rather than try and have people arrested for being fully compliant with the law.

Greg is right about one thing. The city should be paying to house broke older folks. Pushing that onto small investors trying to fund their retirement isn't viable. It is that realization that gave us the Ellis Act in the first place. The city should do it's job and subsidize housing to the extent that the voters approve the funding.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 7:34 am

"Clad in a gray pantsuit..."

You go Tiny! You go girl!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2014 @ 10:34 pm

You lied. The DA gave them the cold shoulder.

I'd like to be a fly on the wall when Eric goes to SFPD with this.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 9:16 am

Desk Sergeant: "You want us to do what?"
Erin McElroy: "Arrest these people for elder abuse!!!"
DS: "Right away. Are they beating them?"
EM: "No."
DS: "Are they starving them?"
EM: "No."
DS: "So what are they doing?"
EM: "They're using the Ellis Act on tenants!"
DS: "You mean the California LAW?"
DS: "Are they doing it illegally? Are they using violence to kick them out?"
EM: "No."
DS: "So they're following the law... and you want us to arrest them?!?"
EM: "YES!!!"
DS: "...................................."

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 12:18 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

Why do i feel like the people opposing these actions on this thread are landlords trying to justify themselves? Also wtf does what the protesters are wearing have to do with anything viable. Stress effects our bodies and an elder is less likely to recover from the stress on their bodies and immune system. It is endangerment.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 9:31 am

The city (ie, the entire taxpaying community) should bear the costs of providing long term housing for seniors in need of assistance. It can be dedicated, government-run facilities or rent subsidies given to private landlords who agree to provide the service.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 10:15 am

willing to pay the taxes to fund it.

The problem now is that voters perceive rent control as "free" even though, in reality, it is far from that.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 10:33 am

Activists who want to provide better housing security for low income seniors, must focus their efforts on convincing the voters to either pay those extra taxes or divert existing funds.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 10:59 am

hoard most long-term rent-controlled lets retire, move away, get sick, go into care or die.

Landlords will never repeat the experience but instead will convert to TIC, do short-term lets via AirBnB or even leave those unit vacant rather than risk being stuck with another "lifer loser" tenant.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 11:10 am

Ellis eviction because the law is fully on their side and, by implication, this State's voters believe such evictions to be justified, fair and legal.

Housing subsidies should come from the general funds and not on the backs of the people who take risks and work hard to provide housing for others and then find themselves trapped.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 10:28 am

These whack jobs want the tech busses to pay and artists to get paid for their work , but LL's NO THEY SHOULD BE FORCED TO GIVE A HUGE DISCOUNT ! Freeze art prices at 60% of the CPI !

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 8:05 pm

Translation: "Fuck off. I can't stand you crazy whackjob bitches whining"

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 11:22 am

While I don't think this action is going to go anywhere, I have to say that I'm happy that the ire of the protesters is being directed towards these serial evictors as opposed to some tech worker just trying to get to their job.

Posted by guestD on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

What happens is that either the small LL gives up and Ellis's OR he sells to someone who Ellis's.

It's not material because, either way, the building is not viable as a rental and so cannot endure.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

and it certainly is not true in every case.
In discussions about how to reform the Ellis Act, I think something that should be considered is for entities to only be allowed to do it a certain amount of times. Say... twice. I think that this could cut down on the profiteering Ellis Actors and make life less miserable for a lot of people, while at the same time giving the small LL an out if they need it

Posted by guestD on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

eviction and I know a couple of people who have done several. And the situation was the same either way.

I had the courage to do my own Ellis but some LL's are too nice to do that themselves, but find themselves increasingly under water.

They would rather sell than Ellis but of course the building doesn't flow and so can only be bought as an Elli/TIC.

Fix the arbitrage gap rather than look for scapegoats.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

I so admire your bravery!

Posted by guestD on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

Ellis even though it is obviously necessary. It's helpful to have others who can take that property off their hands and do the dirty work for them.

Point being, in the end, it makes no difference.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

I agree with your comments, guestD.

Nice to seem some rational, hyperbole-free posting here for a change.

Posted by Snoozers on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 9:21 pm

The Ellis act expert is just doing their legal job too…..

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

Could not publically accusing a private indiviidual of the crime of elder abuse because he/she exercised legal rights unde the Ellis Act constitute slander or defamation? Could institution of legal proceedings against a party to deter them from exercising his/her Ellis Act rights be the basis for an anti-SLAPP lawsuit?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 10:40 am

Evidently she has a problem with people acting legally.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 11:46 am

Once again, the lunatic fringe of the liberal left has made an overly emotional and ineffective effort to address a serious issue. If you want to eliminate Ellis entirely (and good luck with that), then present a substantive legal case for doing so. If, more realistically, you want to hold city government accountable for turning a blind eye to instances where Ellis is used improperly, then by all means, have your day in court. If you're just going to rant on a soapbox and present a case you know you'll never win, why bother? Yeah, you'll get some press, but the people you actually need to influence aren't going to care.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 11:47 am

Wow they just get crazier and crazier, no wonder support for rich people has grown by 1% in the last month alone…...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 7:59 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

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