The Ellis Act, an owner’s perspective: Mellie Malcolmson
Mellie Malcolmson was born in New Mexico and came to San Francisco at the end of the Second World War. She met her husband soon after arriving in The City, and they were married in 1962.
In 1965, Mellie and her husband bought a small, four-unit property on the 1100 block of Filbert Street in the Russian Hill neighborhood and planted roots. The Malcolmsons raised their son, James, on the third floor of their building on Filbert Street, where Mellie continues to live, and relied on the rent from the other apartments for their mortgage. James has lived his entire life in the building on Filbert Street, and is raising his young child with his wife in one of the apartments.
Mellie, now a widow, has been confronted by health problems with age. Walking up the stairs to her third-floor apartment is no longer physically possible. Anticipating this and valuing her tenant’s residency, she made dozens of offers to her resident to switch apartments with her, which would allow Mellie to live on the first floor and to avoid trips up the stairs whenever possible, while preserving the tenant’s home. Each offer, however, was either ignored or rebuffed.
Much to her dismay, Mellie Malcolmson faced a difficult decision. She would either have to become a shut-in in her third floor apartment, where she would be unable to go up or down the stairs, or would have to Ellis Act the building to remove her tenant and give her the flexibility of switching to the first floor apartment. She was forced into choosing the Ellis Act.