Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of the I-Hotel riot and mass evictions that took place on August 4, 1977 at Kearny and Jackson, where a new City College annex is being built. It is a significant part of San Francisco history and many people believe this event spawned the activism that continues to this day to preserve SRO’s in the Tenderloin and beyond. It is considered one of the main reasons why affordable housing is now a huge part of San Francisco City Hall politics. The mass evictions were led by then sheriff Richard Hongisto who later ran for Board of Supervisors and became police chief
the riot, August 4, 1977
yesterday, KALW radio commemorated the even with a half hour broadcast and is now a downloadable podcast
The International Hotel was demolished four years later in 1981. The lot stayed vacant for decades until it was sold to the Roman Catholic Archdioceses.
In 1977, thousands of San Franciscans came to the aid of elderly Filipinos, defended their home, and demanded the city take responsibility for low-income housing. David Prowler suggests the eviction of the I-Hotel has a far-reaching legacy for the city of San Francisco.
PROWLER: I think we’re a more compassionate city as a result of what happened there. I think the boundaries of discussion of what property owners can do has really shifted. And we’re much more comfortable requiring developers to include affordable housing, saying you have to save residential hotels. And understanding, I think, the value’s of preserving Chinatown, preserving parts of South of Market, preserving parts of the Western Addition, and not just letting private or public redevelopment run roughshod.
Obviously we didn’t succeed in our goal of preventing the eviction and saving the building, but the legacy of the International Hotel is that it couldn’t happen again. And maybe it took that kind of shock, the image of elderly people being let out at dawn. The sheriff smashing down their doors. The cops on horseback charging into the crowds. Maybe it took those images to really understand what was at stake here. We lost the hotel, we lost the battle, but it’s not going to happen again.
There is another documentary about the I-hotel on youtube, separate from The Fall of the I-Hotel and here is all 6 parts
part 5 (includes formal apologies from San Francisco Board of supervisor Aaron Peskin)