Judge halts PWA's eviction
by David-Elijah Nahmod
A gay San Francisco man living with AIDS won a reprieve from his eviction last week when a judge halted the proceedings on a technicality.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay threw out the eviction of longtime Castro resident Jeremy Mykaels October 23, citing the fact that Mykaels's landlord stated his rent incorrectly in the eviction notice.
"In my case it had to do with the notice of termination failing to state my correct rent," Mykaels explained to the Bay Area Reporter. "The Ellis Act is very specific in that all aspects of an Ellis eviction must be done absolutely correctly."
Mykaels was being forced out of his Castro area home through the Ellis Act, a state law that allows landlords to get out of the rental business.
His landlords reserve the right to re-start the eviction process.
Mykaels, 63, is a long term AIDS survivor who has lived in his present Noe Street unit for 17 years. He has resided in the Castro since the 1970s. The neighborhood has become more than his home. Since being diagnosed with full-blown AIDS in 2001, Mykaels's centrally located residence gives him easy access to his doctors, whom he said have kept him alive.
Groups such as Eviction Free San Francisco have been fighting the escalating displacements of long-term tenants across the city. They oppose the actions by real estate speculators who buy up multiple properties, then often invoke the Ellis Act, evict the tenants, and then sell the properties after a large increase. Eviction Free San Francisco pointed out that most of those evicted are poor, disabled, seniors, or LGBTs with AIDS.
Mykaels's eviction invoked deep outrage across the community, as forcing him out of the neighborhood, and away from his doctors, could put his health at risk. Eviction Free San Francisco held numerous actions on Mykaels's behalf, including an August demonstration in front of the Atherton home of developer William Young, one of Mykaels's landlords. When reached by phone, Young told the B.A.R. that he could not comment on this issue, and wondered if Mykaels would accept a "settlement."
"We were happy to support Jeremy through this process," said Carmen Simon of Eviction Free San Francisco. "It is our hope that people facing evictions will be inspired by Jeremy, not only in his willingness to seek counsel, but also in his decision to join a larger movement. Eviction Free SF is prepared to stand by Jeremy Mykaels as long as he needs us."
Gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener also applauded the judge's decision.
"Jeremy deserves to stay in his home," said Wiener. "I call upon the property owner to stop their eviction. I was happy to hear that the court quashed the eviction lawsuit. I hope they will not refile."
Wiener supported gay state Senator Mark Leno's (D-San Francisco) proposed legislation that would have required landlords to own a building for at least five years before evoking the Ellis Act.
"This would have prevented people from purchasing and promptly evicting," said the supervisor. "Unfortunately, the legislation didn't get much traction in the legislature."
For his part, Mykaels said he's relieved at the judge's decision.
"My health is fragile at the moment," said Mykaels. "My extremely poor health in June seemed to be the culmination of all the stress, worry, and depression I have been going through ever since the former owner said he would sell the building over two years ago. The stress and worry never goes away and still weighs on my health. Until this situation is resolved one way or another, I doubt it ever will."