USA: The Tenant Triumvirate of Sacramento, California

Democratic Assemblymembers David Chiu (San Francisco), Richard Bloom (Santa Monica), and Rob Bonta (Oakland), have become the “Tenant Triumvirate” in Sacramento, three legislators known for proposing ambitious statewide tenant protections. Their efforts have garnered backlash from real estate interest groups, as well as the criticism of outspoken progressive advocacy groups who argue the state legislature hasn’t done enough.

The trio is bouncing back with three tenant protection bills in this year’s legislative session.

“More and more Californians are being unjustly evicted from their homes,” said Assemblymember Bonta. “As California continues to endure this housing crisis, statewide Just Cause legislation is another necessary ingredient to protect tenants and keep a safe roof over their heads. The history, culture, and character of our communities suffer when residents are forced to move from home to home. A statewide Just Cause law will ensure landlords are only evicting tenants for fair reasons. We must fight to protect our neighbors and to preserve the integrity of our communities.”

The California Apartment Association is not pleased with the proposal. “These limitations can make it difficult — if not impossible — to evict bad tenants, including those suspected of criminal activity, such as drug-dealing – unless other tenants and witnesses are willing to testify at trial,” a press release reads.

Assembly member Richard Bloom introduced AB 2364, which will extend the notice time that landlords must give tenants when they evict them using the Ellis Act. Reforming or repealing the Ellis Act has been a progressive white whale in Sacramento virtually since it was passed. Former State Senator Mark Leno, who is now running for Mayor of San Francisco, was the last to introduce such a proposal.

Under AB 2364, landlords must now give all tenants one year notice before the eviction.

Under the current law, most tenants only get 4 months notice. Seniors and people with disabilities get one year notice.

The California Apartment Association was also critical of this bill, stating in part: “Before the Ellis Act was passed in 1985, rent-controlled cities — Santa Monica in particular — forced landlords to stay in business, even if they were losing money or experiencing other hardships.”

Alex Lantsberg, a landlord in the Bayview district and spokesperson for Small Property Owners for Reasonable Controls (SPORC), issued a statement praising the three bills and condemning the CAA: “The fact of the matter is that those of us lucky enough to own property in this state have never had it so good. Between massive rent and asset value growth since the economic collapse on one hand the the protections of Proposition 13 on the other, California’s residential property owners are the envy of the nation,” he wrote.

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