City Hall Watch: Eviction legislation fails to nab votes to override veto

In the latest battle about landlord and tenant issues, Mayor Gavin Newsom successfully vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have extended eviction protections to all rental units in San Francisco.

The legislation would have extended the eviction protections in place for those living in units built prior to June 1979, as they are covered by The City’s rent control ordinance, to units built afterward.

On Tuesday, the board failed in a 7-3 vote to override Newsom’s veto. Supervisors Bevan Dufty, Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd supported the veto. Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier was absent. It takes eight votes to override a mayoral veto.

Newsom said if the law stood, it “would have a chilling effect on the financing of new housing development in The City.”

“The mayor is grateful to the supervisors who joined him in protecting property rights and future housing development in San Francisco,” Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said.

“It was a chronicle of a veto foretold,” said Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the legislation. “But it was important that we held out. It was important legislation to protect tenants.”

Landlords with units built prior to June 1979 must have “just cause” to evict a tenant. There are 15 acceptable reasons, including to perform lengthy capital improvements and to allow the owner or family members to move in. The law would have extended those protections to the increasing number of post-1979 units, estimated to total about 20,000.

On Tuesday, the board and Newsom did agree on protecting tenants with schoolchildren from owner move-in evictions. The board unanimously approved legislation that prohibits owner move-in evictions of families with children under age 18 during the school year.

Next Tuesday, the board will debate legislation that would extend the just-cause eviction regulations to tenants while the building is in foreclosure. 

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