The Only Person Who Can Judge Me Is Judy

My appeal has been denied. And it only took a week.

The Court of Appeal had been taking four months to issue decisions which resulted in a huge backlog of cases. So they’ve started summarily rejecting anything filed by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic without review. That’s one way to handle a backlog.

But judges are people too, they have the same real estate investments as their other wealthy friends. It’s in their interest to keep this real estate bubble growing. It seems neither City Government, State Government or the Courts are willing to take on the housing affordability crisis. They know which side their bread is buttered on.

My attorney says I might have to be out of my apartment in 30 to 60 days. He’s mulling our options. I have faith in him, he’s creative and passionate about what he does. And the THC attorneys are about the only ones in town willing to fight for renters. I meet with him tomorrow.

***

The Eviction Story

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

The Great Un-Quashed

 

The old Hall of Justice on Kearney Street: the stuff of childhood fantasies.
The old Hall of Justice on Kearney Street: the stuff of childhood fantasies.

My Motion has been denied. We did not achieve Quash.

I spoke to my attorney on Friday and Judge Ronald Quidachy ruled against us on all of our issues. Some of them have been raised in other cases that are still being appealed. So things could change if the Appellate Division reverses one of them. And we will be filing our own appeal as well. The battle is lost, the war goes on.

In the 1950’s there was a television show called Line-Up that was the San Francisco answer to LA’s Dragnet. The reruns were recycled in the 60’s as San Francisco Beat. I don’t remember too much about the shows other than the semicircular windows. They served as the back drop for the office full of gum shoes hammering away on Royal typewriters in a Pall Mall haze.

Those arched windows made an indelible impression on me. They were huge and looked like they went to the floor. How cool to work in such a dramatic setting. I was hoping for such an office when I went to work for the San Francisco District Attorney in the 1970’s. Alas, all the new Hall of Justice could offer was an interior closet with no natural light.

My job as clerk was to accompany the Assistant DA to Municipal Court every morning. In the afternoons I would wait for delivery of the next morning’s docket, tractor-fed printouts two feet wide and weighing about five pounds. I would pull the files for the few cases that had them. Most only had the original police report which wasn’t of much use .

There could be 200 or more cases called every morning and we went through them at a blistering pace. 90% were answered with “continuance” “so stipulated” or “no objection.” A handful required an appearance by the defendant that could last a couple of minutes. When I saw them coming on the list I would slide the file over to the DA for her to quickly review–probably for the first time.

My moment to shine came when someone failed to appear. If they were on probation I would point to the far right column. The DA would rise to say “Bench Warrant.” I felt so empowered. I wasn’t exactly an Officer of the Court because I’m not an attorney but I was probably functioning on the Meter Maid level. Despite this power surge, I really hated putting people in jail.

I thought the proceedings were intentionally abstruse to keep the Court bureaucracy humming. Sometimes I just wanted to tell the defendant to fill out Form 5A-j and they’d be in the clear. The judge could have easily said the same thing. Instead he would hound the defendant about not having proper representation and not to come back without it. I guess if a dine and dash goes horribly wrong you need someone well versed in 5A-j law to keep you out of the electric chair.

This employment mill feeling existed amongst the attorneys as well. They all attended the same law schools and were intimately familiar with each others’ firms. And the firm the judge came from. They depended on each other for their livelihood. To have an adversarial system you need two sides so, although the money side almost always wins, occasionally the plebeians prevail to keep the game going.

I also think it’s why so much legislation is vaguely or poorly written. It gives the attorneys something to argue about.

In the pursuit of justice and keeping the legal profession afloat I hope the courts throw a little of that nuance juju my way.

***

The Eviction Story

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

 

Thus Spake My Readership

fans2The comments I’ve gotten from readers over the last several months have usually been along the lines of “take that picture of me down or I’ll sue.” But there have been others.

One was from a journalism student in Denver who wanted to interview me about the current rental crisis in the City. Unfortunately, I was out-of-town the week he was here. And recently there was the reader who said he and his family were interested in buying this building until he happened upon my blog.

Daniel Brett, who works in the social investing field, wrote, “I communicated to the broker that we don’t support people using the Ellis Act to flip properties. Hopefully the message was shared with the owner so they think twice before doing this again. Had I not come across your blog and learned about the owner, we might have bought the place. So kudos to you for speaking truth to power.”

In writing about my situation I tend to treat the real estate industry as a monolith of greed because it’s so much easier to deal in stereotypes than to think things through. Mr. Brett’s email made me realize that they’re not all the same and that there are still players in the game who have a sense of responsibility. Their practices should put the Andrew Zachs, Denise Leadbetters, and Vince Youngs of the world on notice that you can make money in real estate without ruining people’s lives.

Next: Parallel Universes
Previous: The Folks at Home
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

 

 

The Folks at Home

Still no decision from the court after two weeks and my neighbor’s hearing has been postponed a couple of times. All because of the huge backlog in Ellis Act cases.

So while I wait I’ve turned my attention to the Hoosier State where I grew up and where a lot of my family still lives. I visit them often. And when I do the number one topic of conversation is always that they don’t have enough freedom to practice their religion and how the government has failed to step in to tackle this oppression.

I notice it especially when we’re at one of our favorite Amish restaurants for lunch. The piped-in Muzak is this heavy on the tremolo organ playing hymns like “The Old Rugged Cross.” There is no better aid to the digestion than the feeling of being at a Dust Bowl funeral.

But seriously, I thought my work was done back there when we liberated the state in the early 70’s. Apparently it’s time for a second offensive.

***

The Eviction Story

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

A Woo By Any Other Name

The home of my defender, the THC, at 126 Hyde
The home of my defender, the THC, at 126 Hyde

The Motion to Quash was filed yesterday and we await the Judge’s decision at next Tuesday’s hearing. The wheels of justice finally begin to turn.

When I was making the rounds a year ago seeking counsel, agencies would always ask who my landlord’s attorney was. When I said “Denise Leadbetter” there was almost a uniform “ugh.”  I heard things like “not one of my favorite people” or “not easy to deal with.”

But I also heard that she would only do the preliminaries. When it came to the heavy lifting, litigating the matter, she would turn it over to her husband, Andrew M. Zachs. Which is what’s happened in my case,  freeing Ms. Leadbetter up to work on the quadrupling rent case featured in today’s Chron.

Back in those early stages I did notice a certain lack of attention to detail on Ms. Leadbetter’s part. In the original Owner Move In eviction and then again in the Ellis Notice two months later she failed to acknowledge that I was a senior. She and the landlord knew this from the Realtor Disclosure Form. But this may have been more of a legal tactic than an oversight. The burden was on me to state my protected status rather than on her to acknowledge she already knew.

In early 2014 when I was thinking of dealing with her directly we played phone tag for a couple of weeks. She finally sent me a letter asking that I call her as soon as possible. She ended it with “Tanks very much.”

Then there was also the original OMI Eviction Notice in December 2013 where she stated the building was owned by Vince Young and the “Young Family Trust D/D/T February 5, 200.” By my calculation that would place it in the Han Dynasty.

The only time we ever spoke was when we met at the Rent Board Hearing. She was nice enough that day although the sharp elbows did come out a couple of times.

At one point she said that I needed to return the money Vince Young gave me for the OMI eviction that he later withdrew. I told her that an attorney at the Tenants Union told me it was moot and that I was not required to return it.

She shot back, “you couldn’t have spoken to an attorney at the Tenants Union. Only paralegals work as counselors there.”

I said I knew the firm he used to work for and that I would get her his bar number if she liked.

She was insistent, “you could not have spoken to an attorney there.”

At the end of the hearing she said she’d like to work with me in finding a resolution. I said that I’d been using the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and that any negotiations should be done through them. She asked who I was working with. I said Jeffrey Woo.

She pounced, “you couldn’t have spoken to Jeffrey Woo. He’s in private practice at Cooper White.”

“The attorney who did my intake was Jeffrey Woo.”

“You couldn’t have…” Well, you get the picture. I just let it drop. Sometimes it’s better not to engage.

In retrospect I’m willing to cut her some slack. In her days at Santa Clara Law School she probably skipped the course on The Law of Common Surnames.

***

The Eviction Story

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

Clarity

I met with the attorney yesterday to sign papers allowing him to accept service on my behalf. He went over a rough time line of how this will all shake down. Finally, some milestones to be aware of and a general feeling for what’s going to happen.

On March 17th we will file our Motion to Quash the Unlawful Detainer. A hearing will be held on March 24th which I am not to attend. The judge may render a decision that day or a day or so later.

Depending on who prevails. either the landlord or I will probably file an appeal. The appellate process can take up to 60 days.

So I’m here at least until June. And, for the time being anyway, I don’t have to worry about the sheriff busting in and throwing my precious collectibles out on the street.

***

The Eviction Story

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

 

I Have Not Been Served

After a weekend of strangers knocking on the door, the kind of strangers whom I don’t like knocking and whom I never answer, I still have not been served. The mini-drama continues and I apologize for not giving my readers the histrionics they deserve. I had visions of the SWAT team rappelling through the bay windows.

Tomorrow I meet with the attorney to sign papers allowing him to accept service on my behalf. Seems anti-climactic after all the build up. He will then file our Motion to Quash.

May the Quash be with us.

***

The Eviction Story

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com