Dozens of protesters in San Francisco blocked a bus headed for Google headquarters this morning and dozens more are expected during a march this afternoon to rally against the evictions of local teachers and other longtime city residents.
Protesters from Eviction Free San Francisco and other groups blocked a Google bus at Dolores and 18th streets starting around 8:30 a.m. The protest went on for about 20 minutes before police cleared the scene, according to protest organizer Becca Gourevitch.
Attendees heard from longtime residents of a building at 812 Guerrero St. who are being evicted under the Ellis Act, a state law that allows property owners to take a building off of the rental market and convert it for other uses, such as condominiums or a single-family home.
The building was recently purchased by a Google employee who “proceeded to evict tenants using illegal methods,” according to a statement from Eviction Free San Francisco.
A Google spokesperson did not immediately return requests for comment.
One of the tenants, 39-year-old Evan Wolkenstein, said he and several other tenants in the 7-unit building got eviction notices in February telling them they had 120 days to vacate their homes. Residents in two of the apartments have already been evicted, he said.
Wolkenstein, a teacher at San Francisco’s Jewish Community High School of the Bay, said he has lived in his apartment for eight years and doesn’t want to leave. He said he had already been active in San Francisco’s anti-eviction movement when he got his own eviction notice.
“This entire house has a community in it of people who look out for each other and it’s being destroyed and I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “More importantly, I’m fighting on behalf of a community who have a less of a voice than I do—people who are disabled, people who are marginalized and don’t have the resources to raise public awareness.”
Among the tenants being evicted are another San Francisco teacher and her toddler, a disabled woman and her dog, a couple with a baby, and a musician, Wolkenstein said.
He said he plans to join some of his fellow tenants and other local educators and anti-eviction groups during this afternoon’s march.
Gourevitch said tonight’s event will focus on San Francisco teachers who are being forced out of their homes.
“We want to keep San Francisco teachers in San Francisco and they’re being evicted with the Ellis Act, which is a main way people are being pushed out,” Gourevitch said.
“These are middle-class, longtime San Franciscans we are trying to keep in their homes,” she said.
Protesters plan to march at 5 p.m. from 20th and Dolores streets.
Laura Dixon, Bay City News