Mission District tenants burned out of homes vow to return

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Tenants of a Mission District building have vowed to do what it takes to return to their homes after a fire pushed them out. (KGO-TV)

Tenants of a Mission District building have vowed to do what it takes to return to their homes after a fire pushed them out. The owner of the San Francisco apartment building has refused to cooperate with the city until now.

The building is still boarded up and is an eyesore to the community. For tenants it has been a long one year, but on Friday there was a little bit of hope that they may return.

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"The community is going to make sure that it never loses rent control," Tommi Avicolli Mecca from the Housing Rights Committee said.

Gathered in front of the empty, burnt-out building in the Mission, a group of tenants came to get reassurances that they have first priority once the owner rebuilds.

"It states clearly that in a fire, tenants in a rent-controlled building have the right to return at the same rent and with the same terms of their lease," Avicolli Mecca said.

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The only exception would be if the owner obtains a permit for a full rebuild. But this week, the Department of Building Inspection granted the owner, Hawk Ling Lou only a partial rebuild. A report states the foundation and parts of the ground floor were not compromised and are in good shape.

Eugenia Aldana was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation the night of the fire. She's been living in Park Merced since the fire, but said, "Of course. Of course I would like to come back because we lived here for 42 years."

The fire which occurred more than a year ago was caused by outdated wiring. The owner has refused to work with the city ever since. Inspectors have been trying to enter the building.

It took legal action and the city attorney to force the owner to finally allow them in. It was only two weeks ago that inspectors went through the building.

We tried unsuccessfully to reach Ling Lou at his house.

"We ask that the city step up and take action, show what it means to be the city of Saint Francis. If there is a will at City Hall, there is a way," Eric Arguello from the Calle 24 Cultural District said.

The community is now asking that City Hall force the owner to start rebuilding.

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