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The Case Against 'Ethical Landlording'

A San Francisco woman sold her home cheap to a buyer vowing to protect the neighborhood’s character. But the neighborhood needs to change.
New residential construction in San Francisco as seen from the Mission District in 2014.
New residential construction in San Francisco as seen from the Mission District in 2014.Robert Galbraith/Reuters

A woman who bought her home in San Francisco two decades ago and then puts it up for sale today stands to make serious bank. But a woman who lived in San Francisco for all that time might not want to.

Just such a homeowner is the subject of a fascinating profile in San Francisco Magazine, a story that raises the emerging notion of “ethical landlording.” Catherine Lee owned two properties in the Mission, a condo and a two-unit building; after a breakup, she needed to sell the condo in order to buy both interests in the building she shared with her ex. No problem: The condo, which she bought in 1993 for $90,000 and by all accounts sounds like a gem, would easily fetch 10 times that.