of the ruins of the International Hotel at
848 Kearny Street at Jackson belies the tumult that occurred here. Between
midnight and 3 a.m. on August 14, 1977, the mostly elderly Filipino and
Chinese, low income residents of the hotel were brutally evicted from their
units in the building along a four-block enclave then known as Manilatown.
About 400 deputies and police officers broke through 2,000 protesters to
seize the property and evict the residents. The incident, which was broadcast
live on television, marked the end of a nine-year struggle for the property.
The evictions were denounced as a night of racism and injustice by housing
activists and the Asian community. At one time, a room here cost only $45
a month. When owners of the I-Hotel attempted to develop the property,
its tenants objected and engaged the City and property owners in an imbroglio
over gentrification and treatment of the poor through three mayoral administrations.
Eviction notices were first given to 200 residents in 1968. In 1977, San
Francisco Sheriff Richard Hongisto served
five days in jail for contempt of court after he refused to evict residents
of the hotel. The tenants were dragged off anyway. Torn down in 1979 and
vacant since the evictions, the International Hotel site is slated to provide
105 units of housing for the elderly and a parking garage by 2004. In 1983,
director Curtis Choy produced an award winning documentary on the incident
Fall of the I-Hotel." The documentary was revised in 1993 to include
details on the impact of the evictions on the lives of evicted tenants.
Affordable housing advocates continue to struggle in San Francisco, which ranks consistently among the nation's top few most expensive places to live.
Copyright 2001 Hank Donat