Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Leno declines to seek reconsideration of Ellis Act reform bill

Posted By on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 4:15 PM

The Ellis Act reform bill introduced by Sen. Mark Leno, D-S.F., will not be moving forward this year.

“While I remain committed to closing the loophole in the Ellis Act that allows real estate speculators to evict longtime San Francisco tenants, SB 1439 will not be moving forward this year," Leno said. "The bill failed to clear a key Assembly committee last week, and has stalled due to legislative deadlines.” 

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1439, sought to limit evictions in San Francisco by requiring new property owners to wait five years before invoking the Ellis Act, a state law that allows a landlord to evict their tenants if they intend to leave the rental business. 

The fate of SB 1439 seemed uncertain after it failed to pass the California Assembly Housing Committee last Wednesday in a 3-4 vote, but was granted reconsideration. Today, Leno's office confirmed that the senator will not bring the bill back to the committee for a second vote. 

The bill had stalled before in the State Senate, but moved forward to the Assembly after a similar reconsideration process. 

However, a reconsideration by the Assembly Housing Committee may not have been enough to save the bill, the Bay Guardian reports — even if the bill passed the committee, Leno would still have been left with little over a week to push the bill through two more committees to reach the Assembly floor. 

SB 1439 was supported by Mayor Ed Lee; sf.citi, a coalition of Bay Area tech companies; and Tenants Together, an advocacy organization. It was opposed by the California Apartment Association and the California Chamber of Commerce. 

“I am profoundly disappointed that the Assembly Housing Committee failed to pass critical legislation that would help mitigate the negative impacts of a recent surge in Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco,” said Leno in a statement following the Assembly Housing Committee vote. 







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Monday, June 23, 2014

SF City Attorney issues cease-and-desist to mobile app auctioning city parking spots

Posted By on Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM

A screen capture shows the Monkey Parking app in San Francisco. - MONKEY PARKING
  • Monkey Parking
  • A screen capture shows the Monkey Parking app in San Francisco.
An app that allows users to auction off city parking spots occupied by their vehicles is the target of a cease-and-desist demand from San Francisco. 

City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued the demand to MonkeyParking this morning, stating that the app's entire function is a violation of The City's police code. The police code forbids individuals and companies from buying, selling or renting public parking spaces, and mandates fees of up to $300 for drivers who violate the law. 

"Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work — and MonkeyParking is not one of them," Herrera said. "It's illegal, it puts drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and it creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate. Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely — to engage in online bidding wars while driving. People are free to rent out their own private driveways and garage spaces should they choose to do so. But we will not abide businesses that hold hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit."

Herrera has vowed to sue MonkeyParking if it continues operations in San Francisco past July 11.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ellis Act reform bill stalls at State Assembly hearing

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, calls for passage of his measure to modify a state law that would restrict the mass evictions of recently acquired rental properties in San Francisco, during the Senate session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, May 28, 2014. - AP PHOTO/RICH PEDRONCELLI
  • AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
  • State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, calls for passage of his measure to modify a state law that would restrict the mass evictions of recently acquired rental properties in San Francisco, during the Senate session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, May 28, 2014.
A bill targeting Ellis Act reform in San Francisco failed to receive enough votes to pass the California Assembly Housing Committee today. However, it could be reconsidered by the committee if state Sen. Mark Leno, the San Francisco Democrat who proposed the legislation, brings it up for a second vote. The proposal would limit evictions in The City by requiring new property owners to wait five years before invoking the Ellis Act, a state law that allows a landlord to get out of the rental business.

Senate Bill 1439, proposed by Leno and sponsored by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, passed the Senate in May after a similar reconsideration process. It did not initially gain the votes required to pass, but later received the three crucial votes for passage after Leno promised amendments to the bill. 

SB 1439 is also supported by sf.citi, a coalition of Bay Area tech companies, and Tenants Together, an advocacy organization. It is opposed by the California Apartment Association and the California Chamber of Commerce. 

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mayor calls for new housing units in SF budget proposal to address crisis

Posted By on Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Mayor Ed Lee acknowledged Monday that San Francisco is experiencing a housing crisis and widespread anxiety over daily expenses during the unveiling of his proposed $8.6 billion budget. To address the challenges, he said hundreds of below-market-rate units will be built during the next two years.

As the mayor has promoted the technology industry since coming into office in 2011, The City's unemployment rate has fallen from 9.5 percent to 4.4 percent. The strong economy has brought down the real estate vacancy rate but has also led to soaring rents and higher everyday costs, while tenant displacement and evictions have increased, too.

"This economic growth ... has also led to rising prices for homes and other goods and services across The City," Lee said during his budget address in the legislative chamber at City Hall. "I recognize that many San Franciscans are feeling anxious about how to make a living and a life in our great city."

By using $44.4 million from the voter-approved 2012 Housing Trust Fund, along with borrowing $50 million in future revenue from the fund, Lee said that during the next two years "hundreds of new affordable-housing units" will go on the market. The money will fill funding gaps on projects and act as seed money for new ones. It remains unclear exactly what housing developments the mayor intends to fund initially, but announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

"The No. 1 issue I hear about when I am in the community is the affordability of housing," Lee said. "The shortage of housing ... has become a genuine crisis and demands solutions."

Supervisor London Breed helped secure $2 million in the budget to rehabilitate 170 federally funded public-housing units for homeless families on the closed waitlist.

"This is something that has never been done," Breed said of the initiative. "We are saying we are not going to let these units sit vacant."

Supervisor John Avalos wondered how much above and beyond the call of duty the mayor was going to address the challenges of many residents.

"He hit the right notes on rollout," Avalos said, "but I'm still waiting to see if Mayor Lee is dressing up as his own initiatives expenditures that the charter clearly mandates The City to make on affordable housing and education."

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee will begin its review of the budget proposal and make changes beginning next week.

San Francisco's workforce has grown from 27,669 in the previous budget cycle to 28,497. The ability to spend more is attributable to a strong tax base, including property, sales and business taxes.

The budget proposal notes that the San Francisco Center for Economic Development's 2014 report found that city-based firms received $1.3 billion in venture capital investments in the fourth quarter of 2014, comprising 15 percent of all such investments in the nation over that time.

That level of investment is also evident by the fact that technology has surpassed the banking and finance industry as the top job creator.

At least 18 technology companies -- Uber, Weebly and Xoom, among others -- signed leases to expand in The City last year.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Ellis Act reform bill passes in State Senate

Posted By on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 4:00 AM

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, calls for passage of his measure to modify a state law that would restrict the mass evictions of recently acquired rental properties in San Francisco, during the Senate session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, May 28, 2014. - AP PHOTO/RICH PEDRONCELLI
  • AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
  • State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, calls for passage of his measure to modify a state law that would restrict the mass evictions of recently acquired rental properties in San Francisco, during the Senate session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, May 28, 2014.
Legislation proposed by State Senator Mark Leno to limit Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco passed the Senate today in a 21 - 13 vote, after falling three votes shy of passage yesterday. The bill gained the imperative votes after Leno promised to draft amendments differentiating between small family holdings and speculators who abuse the Ellis Act.

Leno's proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1439, would require new property owners in The City to wait five years before invoking the Ellis Act to remove tenants, and restrict landlords from invoking the Ellis Act more than once.

The bill will go before the State Assembly this summer.

“Today’s vote is a significant victory for San Francisco, which is facing an affordable housing crisis,” said Leno. “The Ellis Act was intended to apply to landlords who want to go out of the rental business, but it is now being abused by speculators who quickly vacate properties and resell them for a profit. Many of the displaced tenants are seniors, disabled people and low-income families with deep roots in their communities and no other local affordable housing options available to them. Our bill gives San Francisco an opportunity to stop the bleeding and save the unique fabric of our City.”

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