Thursday, April 15, 2021
Uncategorized Ellis Act reform effort starts in Sacramento

Ellis Act reform effort starts in Sacramento


By Tim Redmond

FEB 21, 2014 — Efforts to reform the Ellis Act — one of the key demands of the tenant rally this week — are now underway.

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano introduced a bill today, AB 2405, that would allow San Francisco (or any other county) to enact a moratorium on Ellis evictions until it has met its regional goals for affordable housing production.

The bill would also hide no-fault evictions (like Ellis cases) from credit records so that tenants evicted purely for landlord and speculator profit won’t face credit problems in the future.

If the bill clears the state Legislature, the San Francisco supervisors, by a majority vote, could end Ellis evictions for the immediate future: The city is far, far out of compliance with its own General Plan goals and regional needs for affordable housing.

State Sen. Mark Leno told the tenant rally he was planning to introduce his own bill, probably next week, and it would most likely mandate that landlords own property for five years before they can invoke the Ellis Act.

(UPDATE: Leno’s office just told me that he will be announcing an Ellis bill Monday morning, with Mayor Ed Lee, at 9am in Chinatown. A representative of Ammiano’s office will be there, perhaps indicating that the mayor will support both bills)

Mayor Ed Lee has said that he will support Ellis reform in Sacramento, although he hasn’t been specific about what legislation he would back. It’s hard to imagine how he could fail to put his weight behind both of these bills.


Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


  1. I think the benchmark of meeting our regional housing goals when we are, as you put it, “far, far out of compliance,” is so open-ended (and perhaps unachievable) that it creates an effectively permanent “moratorium,” and is not a proposal that can be seriously considered.
    I am very interested in knowing what you think about the Mayor and Supervisors passing and enforcing legislation requiring developers to actually build on-site or in-the-neighborhood lower cost housing in order to get permits to build the high cost units they make so much money on. It seems clear that the small number of BMR units somewhere and paying into a fund have not been successful – certainly not adequate. Neither has rent control, applicable as it is only to our oldest housing stock, owned by mom & pops.
    So what about SF ways (no state legislature required) to put the burden more where it can best be borne? Of course it would require political will, and even courage. But I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

  2. I personally think that we are in a housing crisis, and that housing — even privately owned housing — should be regulated the way a public utility is regulated. But I realize that’s not going to happen any time soon, and nobody in the state Legislature is even suggesting that. Ammiano’s bill would but a hold on things for a while, stop the epidemic of evictions while we as a city get a chance to figure this out. It wouldn’t repeal the Ellis Act, just give a city like SF the change to have some local control over it. The supervisors and the mayor would have to vote to do this, and people who don’t like the idea would have every right to show up and lobby and argue the case that you’re making. I just think Sacramento shouldn’t be setting San Francisco’s housing policy at a time like this.

  3. Sen. Leno’s legislation wouldn’t prevent a longtime landlord from going out of business under the Ellis Act. It would prevent a speculator who doesn’t want to be a landlord but wants a fast buck from buying a building, instantly evicting all the tenants, and flipping it as TICs.

    I believe, although I am not a lawyer, that it is perfectly legal to evict a tenant to move in yourself or an immediate family member. That wouldn’t change.

    This is aimed at the speculators.

  4. And of course, we know that many thousands of units are in fact kept vacant in San Francisco — not sold. You would make that illegal? That is what you propose. That Jane cannot evict tenants under state law and keep her building empty.

  5. So forced to sell at what may be an unacceptable price or forced to remain in that undesired relationship? Do you believe that selling the building should be the only way out for that lessor?
    What about living in the building herself? What about her children or parents living there — no rent involved? You would forbid that?

  6. And what about landlords who have lived on their property for many years? Must they, then, effectively evict themselves?

    I would like more space for my growing family, but my tenants have refused to negotiate. I cannot do an OMI because I already live here. My only option is to Ellis.

  7. I believe that any landlord who no longer wants to be a landlord has, and should have, the right to sell the building to someone who does. Residential property is very valuable in San Francisco, and I don’t see any landlords who have held their buildings for years and are tired of the business having any problems at all selling the place for a profit.

  8. I do not believe that people should (or lawfully can) be forced to remain in a landlord-tenant relationship against their will in perpetuity, which is what you propose.
    Do you, Tim Redmond, believe that there should be no exceptions to an absolute moratorium on Ellis Act evictions? That Jane Doe should be compelled to be the lessor to John Roe indefinitely or forever, regardless of her desire, her financial situation, her age, her personal circumstances?

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