Leno’s bill progresses to Judiciary Committee, although barely

3

State Sen. Mark Leno needs to address apartment industry concerns about his anti-Ellis Act bill, which could lock San Francisco landlords into the rental housing business for years on end, even if they’re losing money.

Those instructions came from the Transportation and Housing Committee, which narrowly approved Leno’s SB 1439 on Tuesday by a 6 to 4 vote with one abstention.

Ellis especially protects owners of rental properties in rent controlled cities, where landlords can find themselves operating at a loss.

The close decision came after the California Apartment Association, a San Francisco landlord and others offered compelling testimony against the legislation. About 150 opponents of the bill crowded the committee hearing room.

“The comments by legislators today and the no votes indicate significant concern among committee members,” said Debra Carlton, CAA’s senior vice president of public affairs. “The approval came with direction that Leno address the California Apartment Association’s concerns.”

SB 1439, after clearing its first committee, now goes to the Judiciary Committee. It’s then expected to reach the Senate floor, where CAA has better chances of defeating the legislation.

SB 1439 would undermine the Ellis Act, a 1985 law that bars local governments from making landlords stay in the rental housing business.

Ellis especially protects owners of rental properties in rent controlled cities, where landlords can find themselves operating at a loss.

Under Leno’s bill, San Francisco would be authorized to place the Ellis Act out of reach for newer property owners. For example, someone who purchases a rental property in San Francisco would have to wait at least five years before removing his or her rental units from the market.

Tagged: