San Francisco

Exiled SRO Residents Sue As Ex-Googler Turns Former Home Into Tech Housing

After fire, former Folsom Street SRO reborn as "Negev."

How does an SRO hotel for low-income people become a "tech co-op" inhabited by Google employees?

It starts with a fire at the Park Hotel on Folsom Street in San Francisco in 2011 -- and also involves some rank chicanery, according to a lawsuit reported by The San Francisco Examiner.

Residents displaced by a fire are supposed to get the right to return, at the same rental rate, within 30 days of repairs. But these days rooms that once rented for around $634 now go for as much as $1,500 -- and the "hotel" is now a "tech co-op" space called the Negev Folsom, the newspaper reported.

Former residents of the hotel have sued property owner Nasir Patel as well as current building operator Danny Haber, whose partner, Alon Gutman, is a former Google worker, according to the newspaper.

The building's current occupants are mostly in their 20s, and many work in tech, including for Mountain View-based Google, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit alleges that the former residents are still illegally displaced -- and also notes that the building's owners took out a $100,000 loan from the city in return for keeping some of the rooms affordable.

There are other Negev properties around San Francisco and other examples of SRO hotels, once only the housing of "last resort" for low-income people, being converted to serve young, upwardly-mobile workers in industries like tech.

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