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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
Eviction Free San Francisco Occupies Vanguard Properties and Demands Eviction be Rescinded
On August 12th, Eviction Free San Francisco occupied the offices of Vanguard Properties - the largest real estate company in Mission. Not only is Vanguard directly driving up the costs of rents in the Mission and throughout San Francisco, but their co-founder, Michael Harrison, is Ellis Act evicting four units at 151 Duboce, home of Benito Santiago and other residents. Benito, 64, is disabled, Filipino, a teacher with the Unified School District, born and raised in SF, an artist, and has lived at his home for 37 years. He has nowhere else to go should the eviction go through. Speculator Harrison has Ellis Act evicted 9 units in the past, all through his alias Pineapple Boy LLC. Members of Eviction Free SF entered Vanguard at 21st and Mission, and before being harassed and physically dragged out, demanded that the eviction at 151 Duboce stop immediately.
At 11am on Tuesday August 12th, Benito Santiago and other members of Eviction Free San Francisco paid a visit to Vanguard Properties on Mission and 21st Street. Benito Santiago is currently being Ellis Act evicted by speculator Michael Harrison, co-founder of Vanguard Properties. Harrison obfuscates responsibility by hiding under his corporation Pineapple Boy LLC. We demanded that Harrison and his alias corporation immediate rescind the eviction of Benito Santiago and others currently being evicted at the four unit building at 151 Duboce. Harrison has Ellis Acted two buildings in the past, and owns multiple properties in SF. He is a classic speculator, thriving on the dispossession of seniors, people with disabilities, people of color, and poor and working-class San Francisco residents.
This is not the first case of speculators being tied to real estate companies, as we can see in the case of numerous evictors, such as Bonnie Spindler, Elba Borgen, David McCloskey, amongst others. Harrison flips buildings after Ellis Act evicting residents, often in business partnership with his wife Debra Despues.
More about Harrison, one of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project's Dirty Thirty, can be found here: https://antievictionmap.squarespace.com/michaelharrison/
Shortly after entering Vanguard, one of the staff people approached us and snatched the letter that Benito was going to read aloud from out of our hands. They then proceeded to physically push us out, as we chanted and drummed to have the eviction rescinded. They harassed some of the reporters with us, grabbing their cameras while trying to block them from filming, and tried to take our megaphone. They dragged some of us out, and then called the police. We proceeded to rally outside of their office at 21st and Mission. Benito spoke, as did Paula, also facing eviction in the Mission.
A film of the action by Peter Menchini is here: http://vimeo.com/103279167
A beautiful film about Benito by Austin Meyer can be found here: http://blog.sfgate.com/inthepeninsula/2014/07/10/san-francisco-gentrification/
The letter that Benito was going to read is below:
"Dear Vanguard Properties and Michael Harrison,
We are here today to demand that you DO NOT evict Benito Santiago and the other residents of his building from his home in the Duboce Triangle. Michael Harrison, one of the co-founders of your realty group, hiding behind the LLC “Pineapple Boy LLC” is using the Ellis Act to attempt to evict him in order to flip the building and profit from his displacement.
Mr. Santiago is a senior and disabled Filipino resident member of our community. He was born and raised in San Francisco. He is a teacher for the San Francisco unified school district where he is a music instructor for special-needs children.
The Ellis Act is used to issue no fault evictions and displace long term tenants in order to “flip” properties. We do not believe that you, Michael Harrison, are “going out of business” which is the purpose of using the Ellis Act. We know that instead you are exploiting a loophole in a state law for your greed.
This greed is tearing communities in our city apart and we demand that it stop. The use of the Ellis Act is especially pernicious when used against seniors and disabled people, as it very often is. What this amounts to is the exploitation of the city’s most vulnerable residents, all in the pursuit of profit. We demand that this stops. Our homes and communities are not for your speculation and profit. We will fight until this stops.
Eviction Free San Francisco"
We ask that supporters also call Harrison and Despues, making it known that the community will not stand for this violent act of displacement.
mikeharrison [at] vanguardsf.com
415-875-7418 and 415-602-4575