Mayor Lee, Senator Leno, Assemblymember Ting, & Supes Chiu & Campos Unite to Push Ellis Act Reform

by Randy Shaw on November 15, 2013

Key San Francisco political leaders have come together to push for changes in the state Ellis Act, launching the start of a campaign to protect tens of thousands of San Francisco’s most vulnerable tenants. This is the first time a San Francisco mayor has publicly joined with state legislators to reform the Ellis Act, which increases the chances for success. Joining the above officials are tenant rights groups, senior and disability advocacy organizations, eviction defense lawyers and others concerned about the growing problem of speculative Ellis Act evictions. With the Ellis Act now eliminating 300 rent-controlled housing units per year, this speculator weapon spreads human misery while undermining the city’s efforts to preserve affordable housing.

The combination of the Lee family evictions and the planned evictions of tenants at 1049 Market Street has lit a fire under San Francisco city officials to reform the state Ellis Act. Here are the words of city officials taken from the mayor’s press release:

“We have to protect our valuable housing stock and prevent Ellis Act evictions that displace longtime tenants and do nothing to add needed housing in our City,” said Mayor Lee. “While we have some of the best tenant protections in the country, there are a small number of speculators out there who are turning a quick profit at the expense of long time tenants. A carve out for San Francisco is good policy and will help us support middle income and working families here in San Francisco. At the same time, we must continue to build the thousands of new homes we need for our growing workforce, including new permanently affordable homes for our working families.”

“I am pleased to be working with the Mayor and other city and state officials on ways we can protect our long term and most vulnerable renters from being displaced from some of the last remaining affordable housing in the City,” said Senator Leno. “Unfortunately, the Ellis Act is too often being abused by real estate speculators looking for a quick profit. Given that only 15 percent of San Franciscans can afford new market rate rentals, a large segment of our City’s population is at risk of losing their homes through abuses of the Ellis Act. This must stop, so that families with children, seniors, the disabled and others who form the unique fabric of our City can continue to live here.”

“San Francisco has an affordable housing crisis,” said Assemblymember Ting. “We need to prevent the tragic displacement of families from their homes. Every issue must be on the table, including the Ellis Act, affordability, and supply. We want to bring together all the stakeholders, including tenant advocates and real estate experts, to craft a package of solutions to address these problems.”

“We simply cannot tolerate these escalating evictions in our City,” said Supervisor Chiu. “We need serious reform of California’s housing laws to keep real estate speculation from displacing more San Franciscans. I am committed to working with Mayor Lee, my colleagues, our State legislative leaders and advocates to ensure that we are protecting tenants and affordable housing.”

“Addressing this housing crisis will require all hands on deck and I welcome working with tenants, advocates, the Mayor, our state delegation, and other Supervisors to keep San Franciscans in their homes,” said Supervisor Campos.

Many of us have long hoped to see such political unity in San Francisco against the misuse of the Ellis Act for speculator evictions. Now this day has come, and do not be surprised to see groups not previously involved with tenant protection campaigns to embrace this effort to prevent speculators from unfairly profiting from San Francisco’s economic success.

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