Tenant package gets committee approval with Wiener dissenting on a key element
SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 – The Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee moved forward a set of eviction-protection laws this week, with Sup. Scott Wiener opposed to one critical part.
Sup. Malia Cohen, the committee chair, voted to support the legislation with only minor amendments, an indication that there are probably six votes to approve it at the full board.
It will be an interesting test: Moderate supervisors like Julie Christensen (who is in a tight race against Aaron Peskin) and London Breed (who will likely face a challenge from tenant lawyer Dean Preston next fall) will be under pressure from landlord groups to gut part of the law.
But neither one can afford to be portrayed as anti-tenant right now.
Kim’s package would, among other things, eliminate a lot of “low-fault” nuisance evictions – and would also allow tenants to add roommates as long as the occupancy of the unit doesn’t exceed local codes.
It’s the roommate part that had Wiener disturbed. He argued that allowing new roommates would undermine the ability of landlords to control leases. “What we have here before us eliminates all ability of the landlord to have any control over subtenants,” he said. “This is a major step.”
But Cohen argued that “in this climate, people do need to move in with family and friends.”
Wiener demanded that the legislation be split, and he voted in favor of sending the package – minus the roommate provision – to the full board with a positive recommendation. Kim and Cohen voted to send the entire package to the full board with a Yes recommendation.
The reality is that most of these are pretty common-sense proposals, repairs to a rent law that keeps getting shredded by a few unscrupulous landlords.
But it will still be a major showdown on tenant rights, coming up right in the middle of a contested election season.