Apellate Court Upholds Stronger Owner Move-In Protections

by Staff Writer on June 22, 2004

The Appellate Division of the San Francisco Superior Court ruled yesterday that an owner must have a 50% interest in a property in order to pursue an owner move-in eviction. The ruling rejects the City and County of San Francisco’s longstanding position that only a 25% ownership interest was required.

The ruling in Calvo v. Superior Court, Case No. 610406, resolves a dispute surrounding the passage of Proposition G in November 1998. A few months prior to the election, the Board of Supervisors enacted the “Bierman” amendment, which raised the ownership percentage required to evict from 25% to 50%.

Prop G restricted owner-move in evictions but did not change the ownership percentage. Since the initiative was circulated prior to the Bierman amendment, it included the 25% language that was in the Rent Ordinance at that time.

After Prop G’s passage, the City Attorney’s office ruled that the voters had implicitly repealed the Bierman amendment’s 50% requirement. The court has now rejected this position.

The court concluded that “since voters were not informed that passage of Proposition G would result in repeal of the Bierman amendment, and in light of the fact that the Bierman admendment did not exist at the time Prop G was placed on the ballot, a repeal by implication would be particularly inappropriate.”

Steve Collier of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, who brought the writ resulting in the Court victory, noted: “We always believed that the 50% ownership rule was valid and are happy that the Court has finally confirmed our reading of the law. This ruling will restore desperately needed protections to the longterm tenants targeted by owner move-in evictions.”

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