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Sheriff changes locks on 100-year-old woman’s home in eviction case

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The two-plus year eviction saga continues

The facade of the house at 670 Page Street. Google

Activists had planned to blockade 100-year-old Iris Canada’s longtime home at 670 Page Street on Wednesday to hinder the city’s sheriff’s department attempts to serve an eviction there.

But the sheriff beat them to it, changing the locks on the unit Friday, in compliance with a court order earlier in the week. In what is ostensibly the final word in the longstanding case, Superior Court Judge James Robertson II wrote on February 8:

Defendant Iris Canada has not taken any action in any court of competent jurisdiction since her writ was denied and the final stay was dissolved on December 29, 2016. The court hereby orders the Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco the Honorable Vicky Hennessy to execute the writ [...] at the earliest possible date.

Lawyers, judges, activists, and neighbors have argued the Canada case in courts and in the press since December 2014.

Although Canada had a lifetime guarantee of tenancy in the home she’s occupied for over 50 years (some say up to 70—accounts vary), her landlords claim that she effectively moved out in 2012 and voided the terms of the agreement. The judge agreed.

Canada’s relatives previously told Curbed SF that her absences were simply vacations or hospital stays. “They just want her out of the way. She hasn’t done anything wrong except live,” niece Iris Merriouns explained last year.

Longtime plaintiff’s attorney Mark Chernev, on the other hand, insisted that building owners will let her stay if she just agrees to her neighbor’s condo conversion plans.

Canada in 2014.
Courtesy SF Planning

“All she wants is a home for the rest of her life, and we'll give that to her," says Chernev.

Canada’s lawyer, Dennis Zaragosa, says he has filed for relief to allow Canada to return home. Zaragosa was not immediately available for comment to update.

The judge gave Sheriff Hennessy until mid-April to execute the eviction before the sheriff risked contempt of court. A sheriff has some discretion about when to evict, and delays are often made for the sake of the elderly or infirm.

“It’s something we do so that we’re not putting the neediest people in danger,” former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said in 2016, though he added, “We have to obey the writ.”

Activists have planned a rally on February 22, although details are sketchy. “We’re gonna fight like hell to get our black elder back into her home of over 50 years,” organizers said on Facebook. Over 200 people have RSVP’d so far.