Will David Chiu Try to Protect SF’s Most Vulnerable Tenants?

by on January 19, 2021

A 5-year holding period would slash Ellis Act evictions

Tenant Groups Urge Chiu to Sponsor Ellis Act Reform; January 22 Deadline Looms

The campaign for Ellis Act reform has gained enormous support across California. But the campaign still needs a legislator to sponsor the bill prior to Friday’s bill deadline.

In the past, San Francisco legislators have filled that role. John Burton and Mark Leno led all major Ellis Act reform campaigns over the past two decades. That’s why San Francisco tenant and housing groups are urging Assemblymember David Chiu to lead the fight this year. Chiu heads the Assembly Housing committee. His assembly district has the most Ellis Act evictions of any in the state.

Ellis evictions in San Francisco, Oakland and most of the state are not covered by any eviction moratoriums. The Tenderloin Housing Clinic alone has been working with 252 individuals facing Ellis Act evictions, while Oaklandside has reported on East Bay tenants facing eviction in the middle of the stay at home order.

Why do California legislators allow elderly, disabled and other long-term tenants to be evicted by real estate speculators? What policy goal is served? These evictions cause untold human misery and worsen California’s affordability crisis.

As the chart above shows, a bill imposing a 5-year holding period prior to invoking the Ellis Act would slash these evictions. Such a bill passed the Senate in 2014 and narrowly lost in an Assembly committee; the political dynamics for passing reform are much stronger in 2021.

We have spoken with legislators and their staffs across the state and support for Ellis Act reform is stronger than ever. But because there has not been a major Ellis reform effort for six years, many legislators do not feel familiar enough with the issue to lead a statewide campaign. San Francisco’s David Chiu has been dealing with Ellis evictions since he was a supervisor. His local legislation restricting new garages in North Beach helped reduce Ellis evictions in a neighborhood that was once speculators chief target.

But Chiu has been reluctant to follow the lead of prior San Francisco state legislators John Burton and Mark Leno in sponsoring Ellis Action reform. And if he doesn’t act in the next few days, speculators will continue displace 90-year old long term tenants paying below-market rents so they can permanently eliminate their rent-controlled housing.

San Francisco’s plunging rents has been accompanied by rising home prices. This increases speculator incentives to replace rent controlled housing with units they can sell at a quick profit. Absent action in next few days, San Francisco’s Ellis Act crisis will get much worse.

Ellis Act reform already has support from the Oakland City Council, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Coalition for Economic Survival, Anti-Displacement Coalition, Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, San Francisco Tenants Union, South of Market Community Action Network, SF Eviction Defense Collaborative, Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, Bernal Heights Democratic Club, California High School Democrats, Vallejo Housing Justice Coalition. Urban Habitat, Sacred Heart Community Services, California Democratic Party Renters Council, East Bay For Everyone, Housing Long Beach, Tenant Power Collective, Alhambra Tenants Union, Family Violence Law Center and Causa Justa. This list will dramatically expand once a bill is introduced.

Legislators have been hearing our calls, but they need to hear from you.

Help us in our fight to reform the Ellis Act with the following action items:

  1. Sign our petition here
  2. If you’re an elected official or a member of an organization, sign onto this letter here
  3. Share our graphics on social media to share the word
  4. Call your local Assemblymember and urge them to introduce legislation to reform the Ellis Act
  5. Call Assemblymember Chiu and urge him to include the Ellis Act in our statewide eviction moratorium.

More information about our call to action is linked here.

Filed under: Bay Area / California

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