Leno quits pushing anti-Ellis Act bill

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Photo by Mike Nemeth Sen. Mark Leno glances at a witness during the Assembly committee hearing where SB 1439 died.

Photo by Mike Nemeth
Sen. Mark Leno glances at a witness during the Assembly committee hearing where SB 1439 died.

Sen. Mark Leno has halted his pursuit of state legislation that would undermine a landlord’s right to leave the rental housing industry.

Leno, D-San Francisco, has given up on Senate Bill 1439 after its rejection in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee last week. The bill took aim at the Ellis Act, a landmark 1985 law that bars local governments from making property owners stay in the apartment business.

Leno told the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday that he’ll probably try to resurrect the bill in 2015.

“I’m very committed to this,” he said in the article.

The Housing and Community Development Committee voted down SB 1439 by a 4-3 vote on June 18, leaving little chance for Leno to keep the bill afloat this year.

The bill would force many rental property owners in San Francisco to wait at least five years before removing their units from the market — even if losing money month after month.

While the bill would have applied only to San Francisco, it could have statewide ramifications. Los Angeles has already expressed interest in pursuing legislation similar to SB 1439.

Before the Ellis Act, rent-controlled cities — Santa Monica in particular — were forcing landlords to stay in business, even if they were losing money or experiencing other hardships. The Ellis Act has blocked this type of government intrusion, providing a veritable escape hatch for owners who can no longer thrive – or even survive — in rent-controlled communities.

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