October 28th, 2002


Eviction chronicles part 2

Friday evening I started up my stoop and the neighbor’s door opened. He’s been trying to get bought out of his apartment lease because the owner is selling the building and my neighbor was thinking of moving to a smaller place anyway. I had just worked a 10-hour day after driving all night returning from the conference in Oregon.

"Did you hear?" he asked.
"Hear what?" I asked predictably.
"(The landlord)’s lawyers told me they didn’t want to buy me out because they’re selling it to someone who wants your unit."

First floor neighbor is a tenant lawyer, so we discussed what it all means for awhile. During our conversation a woman from the second floor apartment came out and gave me her condolences. We helped the second floor get their apartment when our old neighbors moved out.

As we talked, an expensive, new Mercedes pulled up into the illegally cut, un-permitted, defacement-to-a-historic-building garage that our landlord built right before putting the house on the market. It was the broker of the sale. She looked at us and busied herself in her car, hoping we’d leave. We continued talking and stared at her.

Eventually she got out to deliver inspection notices to the three units. She tried to play it off. "Hi," she said jovially.

"Can I ask you something," I replied. "How does it feel to evict people from their homes? Does it make you feel good to throw people out from the place they’ve been living longer than anywhere they’ve ever lived? Is that satisfying?"

Her face fell. She couldn’t look at me. "I don’t know where you got your information, but the house is being sold to investors who don’t plan on moving in." She quickly handed us the notices and got back in the car. She pulled out so fast that an oncoming car had to jam on the brakes and squeal to a stop, almost hitting her expensive car.

By SF law, in order to evict us, the owners must "intend" to actually move into our apartment. In front of two witnesses, the broker gave us a little more ammunition for our legal defense.

I'll never get tired of getting called "Cheese Guy" in public

As I waited on the dangerously sunken couch at the Tenants Union, one of the counselors yelled out to me. "Have you had a lot of landlord problems? You look really familiar."

"Nope, I haven’t been in for counseling in years,’ I replied.

My housemate was quicker on the draw. "Do you eat cheese?" she yelled back.

"That’s it!" the tenant unionist said excitedly. ‘You’re the cheese guy! I just hope I can help you like you’ve helped me in the past." Then she called out to the whole room, "Do you people eat cheese? He’s the (name of store) cheese guy. This is like having a celebrity here." At that point someone rolled the tenant counselor's baby into the room in a stroller. "This is my beautiful baby", she said, "and I ate raw milk cheese during the entire pregnancy."

It’s times like these that I know I’m making a difference in the world.
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