By Siouxsie Q Tuesday, Nov 4, 2014
Like many in the Bay Area, I’ve been evicted at least once.
In August of last year, I was walking home from the gym and feeling positively enchanted with San Francisco. The ocean breeze had wound its way up Geary Street and mingled with the smell of Peking duck and crepes. “I love living here,” I thought as I bounced up to my front steps, where I was met by four white papers taped to the door.
My breath caught in my throat. Eviction notices — one for each roommate that lived there. Our landlord had caught on that we were occasionally renting out the extra room in our house to travelers on Airbnb, and she jumped at the chance to evict us. Our San Francisco dream was over.
And so with very heavy hearts we packed up our podcasting equipment and moved across the bay where most of our friends already lived anyway. Bay Area landlords had become positively enchanted with the promise of a sky-high rental market and the possibility of becoming an Ellis Act millionaire. I have just one friend who still lives within the San Francisco city limits, and she lives in constant fear of eviction and harassment from her landlord.
And here in Oakland, they’re flipping houses so fast I can barely see my block through all the scaffolding. The cost of rent increased more than 10 percent last year in Oakland, making it the sixth fastest-growing rental market in the state, head, and shoulders above even San Francisco.
Now, a new expansion of Oakland’s Nuisance Eviction Ordinance has me worried about my future as a tenant on the sunny side of the bay.
Since 2004, Oakland has had a law in place that allows the city attorney to order evictions of tenants who are believed to be engaging in illegal activity involving drugs and weapons.
On Tuesday, Oct. 21, City Attorney Barbara Parker recommended expanding the Nuisance Eviction Ordinance to include prostitution.
The Red Light Abatement Act of 1913 already allows landlords to evict tenants who they believe to be selling sex inside their apartments. But this new Oakland law would make sex workers’ everyday business acts — like keeping money in the home or taking a phone call with a client — grounds for eviction. Parker’s agenda report from Sept. 16 cited Oakland’s economy as one of the reasons for the expansion. “As Oakland struggles to recover economically…