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Bill Would Force SF New Property Owners To Hold Buildings For 5 Years Before Evictions

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A San Francisco state senator is introducing a bill on Monday where new property buyers in the city would be forced to own their buildings for five years before they could evict renters.

State Sen. Mark Leno said Senate Bill 1439 addresses the increasing eviction based on the state's Ellis Act, which was designed to to allow legitimate landlords a way out of the rental business.

Under the law, building owners can kick out tenants to take the building off the market and sell it. But critics argue that speculators are evicting long-time tenants who pay below market-rate rent in order to quickly resell and take advantage of the city's soaring housing prices.

Leno said SB 1439 would authorize San Francisco to prohibit new property owners from invoking the Ellis Act to evict tenants for five years after the acquisition of a property, ensures that landlords can only activate their Ellis Act rights once, and creates penalties for violations of these new provisions. 

The rise in Ellis Act-evictions in San Francisco has been making headlines for several months now, and Leno is the second lawmaker in recent days to push new legislation to slow the number of long-time renters kicked out of their homes.

Last Friday, State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill that would allow either a vote by the Board of Supervisors or by the public to enact a moratorium on Ellis Act evictions in the event that the housing supply can't meet up with demands.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mayor Ed Lee had called for 30,000 units of housing to be built or refurbished by 2020.

SF Lawmakers Rush To Slow Tide Of Ellis Act Evictions, Supervisor Says More Housing Needed

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who's seen constituents get booted from their apartments, said the problem isn't landlords looking to cash in. Instead he blames the layers of city bureaucracy that have impeded the creation of new housing and that we should be looking to high-transit corridors for new space.

"Whether you talk about Market Street or on Van Ness, or Geary; we just [have] to have a little bit more housing there in areas that have really good transit. We know that we're going to add about 10,000 units in Hunter's Point, which is very important, about 5,000 new units in Park Merced, 8,000 in Treasure Island, thousands more in Mission Bay."

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