By Peter Lawrence Kane
Good news for people who like bad news for jerks! State Sen. Mark Leno’s Ellis Act reform bill, which looked like a lost cause for want of a single vote as recently as Wednesday, has passed. And at the last minute, too, seeing as today was the deadline.
The proposed law would prohibit new landlords from Ellis Act-ing tenants until they’ve owned a property for five years. Since the Ellis Act, envisioned to allow landlords who happen to be mere mortals to go out of business, has been rampantly abused by speculators, the need for this was urgent – and nowhere more so than in San Francisco. That was partly the cause of the delay, as Democrats from Southern California initially joined the Republican minority in grumbling about how SF has been overly negligent in building new housing – which is undeniably true, but hardly relevant to people who are getting unfairly booted out of their homes. SFGate notes that the amendments Leno had to tack on to get three Democrats to change their votes have yet to be hammered out in full but seem like minor tweaks.
Only last month, Supervisor David Campos shepherded a bill mandating that Ellis Act evictees receive two years’ rent at a comparable rate to the value of their apartment. That law goes into effect on June 1, meaning we’ve now seen both levels of government take aim at the exploding inequality in the city.
Leno’s bill has to go to the Assembly, which has a Democratic supermajority and is likely to send it on to Gov. Jerry Brown. This one looks like a win for anyone who was losing sleep over the prospect of being kicked out of their home. You know, like everybody.
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