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Takeover Of Empty Tenderloin Hotel In San Francisco
On Sunday activists took over a vacant San Francisco residential hotel in the city’s Tenderloin District. The occupation coincided with the first World Homeless Day.
San Francisco, Sunday, October 10-On this day, 10-10-10, over 100 people marched through San Francisco’s Tenderloin District to take over the former Leslie Hotel, a vacant five story, 68 unit building at the corner of Larkin and Eddy Streets.
The action, organized by Creative Housing Liberation, happened on the first World Homeless Day.
People gathered at Civic Center Plaza for a rally with speakers and music, featuring a young Latina girl asserting our need “hacer una vida mejor/to make a better life,” and a stirring rendition of the song “Yuppie, yuppie stole my pad.”
Finally the rally emcee announced, “We’re going to march to the occupation site and take over just one small part of the 30,000 vacancies” in San Francisco.
Soon the crowd took over Larkin Street and marched north, chanting “Homes Not Jails/Food Not Bombs” and “Housing Is a Human Right, In These Streets We Take This Fight.”
After two blocks we turned right and saw people hanging banners and waving to us from a large building on the corner. On its Eddy side were the numbers 587. An organizer told me it had been vacant for over two years, and was owned by a speculator real estate company.
Public documents reveal that the owner of record is Soma Development Company, 220 Halleck Street, Suite 110, San Francisco. Feel free to call them at 415-561-3400.
We streamed inside to find the electricity and water on, the elevator working. And the halls, stairs and rooms covered with wall to wall carpeting. There was a working elevator as well.
All that was missing were people to live there. But that problem was quickly being remedied.
From the building’s roof a spectacular 360 view greeted us. A ragged black flag was flying over Eddy Street.
Back in the lobby the hotel desk had been transformed into a literature table featuring Street Sheet, Central City Extra and other highly informative and relevant info. Behind the desk a merry character declared that he was Secretary in Defense of Anarchy.
I walked outside to the corner store to ask if they could tell me the landlord’s name. The proprietor declined to do so, but added, “I’m with you, this building should’ve been full for the past two years. These people (the assembled outside) are my customers. I’d be doing better business if people lived in the building.
Meanwhile, the police, who’d been notable and welcome in their absence, finally started showing up. One of them barged into the crowd, shouting out “Who’s in charge?”
Two cops went into the hotel. They came out empty handed, but then stood blocking the front door to keep any more people from going in. More cops later appeared, some on bike, others in vans.
The cops sealed off the block, preventing the 31 bus from running down Eddy
But neither they nor the store owner could contact the landlord, so eventually all the cops left, except for a skeleton crew that stayed to block the entrance. Without the owner’s permission, the police are legally prohibited from forcing occupiers from the building.
As darkness came on occupiers were still holding forth and holding on in windows of all five stories of the former Leslie Hotel.