SB1439 Senate Vote 5-28-14

Mark Leno’s Senate Bill 1439 which seeks “to ensure that real estate speculators in San Francisco do not buy rent-controlled property and empty it of long-term tenants” failed to clear the Senate Floor yesterday in a 18-19 vote.  A motion to reconsider the Bill was approved, however, and Leno will have two days to “flip” a couple of votes.

Written to freeze Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco until a landlord has owned a building for at least five years, Senate Bill 1439 would also:

  1. prohibit any owner of a building for which an Ellis Act notice has been submitted from withdrawing any other property that he or she acquired after submitting the notice for the former property;
  2. prohibit an owner from acting in concert directly or indirectly with a co-owner, successive owner, prospective owner, or other person to circumvent the above prohibitions;
  3. require an owner submitting an Ellis Act notice to identify each person or entity with an ownership interest in the building, including persons with an ownership interest in a corporate entity; and
  4. provide that a violator of any of these provisions is liable to the tenant for actual damages, special damages of at least $2,000 for each violation, and reasonable attorney fees and court costs as determined by the court.

As plugged-in people know, a similar bill which was proposed back in 2007 never emerged from the Senate Floor.

20 thoughts on “Bill To Freeze Speculative Evictions In SF Fails On Senate Floor”
  1. So not only an unconstitutional taking / restraint on alienation, but a potentially unconstitutional restraint on contract rights. (In that #2 above means an owner could not contract with a tenant *FOR ANY AMOUNT* in order to get around the 5-year restriction. Landlord and tenant agree to a $20,000,000 payment for the tenant to move out, but no, that’s prohibited.)

    So, so ridiculous.

    1. None of what you are describing is unconstitutional. The contract clause’s multi-part test would come out in favor of the state here. As for the other two, I’m skeptical of that also since the Court has allowed similar practices, though I guess we’ll never know

      1. Barring for 5 years an alternative, preferred, and presumably higher and better use, certainly seems like a temporary taking to me.

        I’m left of center on most issues (pot, death penalty, gay marriage, public transit) but would practically donate to the Pacific Legal Foundation over this one.

  2. “Leno will have two days to “flip” a couple of votes.” You really mean Leno will have two days to prostitute himself by offering to support building a nuclear power plant in SoCal. Or maybe approve FRACKING in the East Bay. Or harvesting baby whales…or using horse meat for fast food processors…or approving pink slime as food fillers…or (fill in the blank).

    In the meantime Leno enjoys the unbridled rights of owning his own home in SF without the burden of subsiding lifetime tenants. One has to wonder how he would feel and act if he was the one PERSONALLY SUBSIDING LIFETIME TENANTS?

    Thanks Mark. As always, typical SF politics: do as I say and not as I do.

  3. I am surprised this poorly designed bill would even get that many votes.

    More constraints to take care of the never ending negative side effects of Rent Control.

    This would make buying and renting LESS affordable. But these geniuses will never learn.

    Rent Control is the original issue. Everything else is simply a wasteful attempt at addressing the symptom.

    1. Are you REALLY suprised? Of course people voted for it! It doesn’t have to make sense at all- it just sounds good! “stickin it to those evil nebulous speculators!”. pure politics. it’s a lot easier than voting for real policy changes and reforms to add more housing quicker.

      1. The never ending constraining of supply through good intentions. This is going to end differently this time, lol.

    2. Isn’t the whole BMR program a continuation of rent control for new construction? We really aren’t going to get rid of artificial pricing controls on rental units now for decades from now.

  4. “Over and over and time and time again I heard from cities and counties asking to be exempt from having to build affordable housing,” said Sen. Norma Torres, D-Pomona. “San Francisco has not done their fair share and now they are coming to us and saying because we have not provided affordable housing, we want you to pass along the cost to the small landlords.”

  5. The vote was roughly urban vs rural with all R against and suburban D split.

    One of the votes against was Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo). He just won Senate approval of his Martin’s Beach legislation.

    There are a few D from suburban socal likely to be targeted to change their votes.

    Doubt any of the R will be targeted or the D from rural districts.

  6. So if this passes the senate, it still has to go to the assembly for a full vote, and survive a potential governors veto?? Is there any info if this has serious chance to pass the assembly?

  7. This answers a lot of questions, from SPOSFI, a great organization:

    Attention SPOSFI Members:

    Good news so far. Our Chinatown protest to Senator Mark Leno and Mayor Ed Lee, our trip to the legislature in Sacramento, and the letters all of our members wrote to their Senators have achieved results. SB1439 introduced by Senator Mark Leno failed on the Senate floor Wednesday, May 28. The measure was supported by 18 state senators and not the 21 votes needed to pass.

    Leno can submit the measure for another vote but his chances for the bill passing are slim. The measure proposed was to give the city of San Francisco the right to limit the Ellis Act – primarily requiring home owners to hold a property for at least 5 years before using the Act.

    SPOSFI also helped defeat AB2405 in April. This was Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s bill that would have required that tenant-contested Ellis evictions be heard as general civil actions (not through the unlawful detainer process), leaving the actions languishing in the court system for years, even as property owners continued their financial bleeding. This would have conflicted with the intent of state law to resolve all eviction cases swiftly.

    The California Apartment Association (CAA) deserves credit for the fierce opposition they gave to these two bills. SPOSFI deserves credit too. SPOSFI sent a large delegation to Sacramento (expenses paid by SFAA – thank you). SPOSFI also sent out 720 letters to our state legislators. In addition, many of you, our members, sent letters and emails protesting these two measures. Our thanks to all the groups and to our members who worked so hard to defeat both of these misguided measures.

    While we cannot let down our guard but we do need to remind ourselves that our voices are heard when we protest. Thanks to all of you.

    Noni Richen, President

  8. “…The measure was supported by 18 state senators and not the 21 votes needed to pass…”

    So does the measure need a majority of the Senate to pass, and not just a plurality of those present to vote?

      1. no, not like the US Senate where it takes a majority of the senators voting. If everyone is present and votes, it takes 51 votes, or 50 votes if the vice president votes to break the tie.

        From ‘Voting and Quorum Procedures in the Senate’, Congressional Research Service:

        “All questions are to be decided on the Senate floor by simple majority vote unless a constitutional
        provision or Senate rule or precedent provides otherwise. A simple majority vote is defined as at
        least 50% plus one of the Senators voting, provided that a quorum is present.”

        A quorum is a majority of the Senate which is currently 51.

        Theoretically a bill could pass the US Senate with as few as 27 votes.

    1. Yes, it needs 21 votes in the senate, then it would also need 41 votes in the assembly, a majority of each chamber.

      Tougher when 3 senators are suspended.

      Today Leno got his min wage ($11 goes to $13 + CPI) bill passed by the bare minimum in a 21-12 vote.

  9. It passed today. Leno promised to make amendments before it is final.

    From sfgate:

    The yet-to-be-written amendments would exempt one or two small properties owned by “mom and pop” landlords and may also include a sunset date for the bill.

    Leno told lawmakers that if they passed his bill on to the Assembly while he worked on the amendments, he understood they may not support the legislation when it returns for a Senate vote to approve the changes.

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