Chinatown evictions halted by Mayor Ed Lee 

Some Chinatown families facing eviction have cause to celebrate today, as Mayor Ed Lee intervened to halt residents of a single room occupancy hotel from losing their home.

All will keep their homes, except maybe one.

Two dozen families at 2 Emery Lane, a 32-unit SRO, faced eviction from a real estate investment group. A rally this week shouted loud for the plight of the families, who lived in 100-square-foot rooms. The threatened evictions sparked worries that Chinatown, once thought by city officials to be impervious to The City’s gentrification crisis, may be the next target for real estate speculators.

Despite the growing concern for the neighborhood, these families today were saved from eviction by the mayor.

Mayor Ed Lee issued a joint statement with Supervisor Julie Christensen today:

“After hearing about these disturbing eviction notices served in Chinatown, we contacted the owners and property managers of 2 Emery Lane, and we are happy to report that, as a result, they are withdrawing the eviction notices immediately. They have also pledged to not issue any new eviction notices in the foreseeable future,” Lee and Christensen wrote.

“No one should have to fear losing their home because of issues that, we think, can be addressed through better communication,” they said in the statement.

In his statement, the mayor said that The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development will work with both the owners and the tenants to address the issues that led to these notices of violation and eviction notices.

Gen Fujioka of the CCDC said not all of the evictions were rescinded, however. Contradicting the mayor’s released statement, he said the realtors, Paragon Real Estate Group, will still evict one tenant, and others may still see their rents triple.

“There have been roughly 25 (eviction) notices issued over the past few months, effecting over 20 households,” Fujioka told The Examiner. “Though the owner has indicated he’s withdrawing some of them, it appears he is not withdrawing one of them.

Fujioka was in contact with the realtors at 11:44 a.m. this morning, when they emailed him saying one tenant still faces eviction.

The mayor’s office was not able to confirm this other eviction, but Fujioka maintains this was sent to him by the realtor.

“Based on what we have the eviction action is still pending,” Fujioka said.

On Thursday, hundreds gathered at a rally to support the Emery Lane residents. The Asian Law Caucus, Chinatown Community Development Center, Chinese Progressive Association and other groups all rallied to protect the tenants from eviction.

“Chinatown is really the last resort for a lot of people, the bottom of the ladder,” said Joyce Lam, an organizer with the Chinese Progressive Association. “That makes it even more important to protect our diminishing housing stock. Its important for tenants to stand united.

“Yesterday’s action shows there’s a lot of community support to protect the most vulnerable of us,” she said. “We have to tell landlords, developers, and speculators, that this is still a city for the people.”

The City will also provide “the fullest legal defense” to tenants at 2 Emery Lane and other buildings at risk for real estate speculation, the mayor wrote in his statement.

The mayor’s spokeswoman, Christine Falvey, said that will come in the form of The City’s eviction prevention funding, which she noted has increased over the last two years.

The mayor put $13.2 million to fight evictions in this year’s budget, she said.

“We will continue to protect Chinatown residential hotels and protect our City’s precious housing stock,” Lee wrote. “We must and will also protect our tenants and stabilize our diverse neighborhoods, including Chinatown.”

About The Author

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Born and raised in San Francisco, Fitzgerald Rodriguez was a staff writer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and now writes the S.F. Examiner's political column On Guard. He is also a transportation beat reporter covering pedestrians, Muni, BART, bikes, and anything with wheels.
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