Gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill Friday (February 21) that would allow local jurisdictions to protect affordable housing stock from the Ellis Act by placing moratoriums on the controversial state law.
“San Francisco is seeing a terrible crisis,” Ammiano said in a news release announcing Assembly Bill 2405. “The people who have made our city the diverse and creative place that it is are finding it harder and harder to stay in San Francisco. The rash of Ellis Act evictions has only made it worse.”
The Ellis Act is a 1986 state law that allows landlords to evict tenants in order to get out of the rental business. The landlord must remove all units from the rental market. Many have blamed the law for people losing their homes as well-paid employees of tech companies like Twitter and Google move to the city.
AB 2405 would, by means of a Board of Supervisors or public vote, allow local jurisdictions to place a moratorium on Ellis Act evictions when the local housing element isn’t met, among other provisions.
Ammiano’s office stated that “some owners have been abusing [Ellis Act] provisions and improperly evicting tenants from rent-controlled units. The problem is not restricted to San Francisco, although the city is going through a particularly critical loss of affordable housing.”
Ammiano said, “Experience shows you can’t build your way out of an affordable housing crisis.”
Longtime Ellis Act critic and gay activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca, who works for San Francisco’s Housing Rights Committee, agreed.
“We can’t build our way out of this housing crisis,” Mecca said in an email. “We have to do everything we can to preserve the affordable housing we have. And rent-controlled units are a form of affordable housing. They keep rents stabilized while the tenants live there. It’s vital the city keep long-term tenants in their apartment so that these tenants aren’t forced out of the city or onto the streets. If this bill passes, our city can put a moratorium on Ellis evictions, something we desperately need to do.”
Brian Basinger, who’s another longtime Ellis critic and director of AIDS Housing Alliance-San Francisco, also cheered the bill.
“Once again, Tom Ammiano is exercising visionary leadership in effectively using government to meet the needs of everyday Californians,” Basinger said in an email. “We can no longer tolerate elected officials who are the servants of the 1 percent, real estate speculators, and other vulture capitalists.”
Meanwhile, gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) announced Friday that he, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and others would announce legislation Monday, February 24 that would “close the loophole in the Ellis Act that allows speculators in San Francisco to buy rent-controlled buildings and immediately begin the process of evicting long-term renters,” according to a news release from Leno’s office.