Anti-Ellis Act bill heads to first Assembly committee Wednesday

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Despite recent amendments, Sen. Mark Leno’s anti-Ellis Act bill remains an attack on landlords’ property rights as it heads to its first Assembly committee Wednesday, June 18. *

Leno promised changes to SB 1439 on May 29 in a last-minute push to resuscitate the legislation, which failed the previous day on the Senate floor. The bill is now scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the Housing and Community Development Committee.

The California Apartment Association vehemently opposes the amended bill, which still 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.

Leno’s amendments would exempt an owner who is a “natural person,” owns no more than two properties and no more than four residential units. A natural person excludes family trusts, partnerships and corporations — mechanisms that the majority of small-property owners use to hold real estate. Clearly, SB 1439 remains an assault on property rights for countless mom-and-pop rental property owners, an argument CAA articulates in this letter to Leno.

Leno first mentioned the amendments May 29, and Democratic leadership employed stall tactics, including the reading of poetry, to extend the Senate session. This allowed Leno to persuade three lawmakers to change their votes to ayes and keep SB 1439 afloat.

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

As originally proposed and in its current state, SB 1439 would greatly weaken the Ellis Act, a landmark 1985 law that bars local governments from making property owners stay in the rental housing industry.

* Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong date for the Assembly committee hearing. 

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  • No business that is losing money should be kept from going out of business. This bill has too many dangerous ramifications.
    Too many things that would be challenged in court.