The Chronicle reports that Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 827 failed to receive the majority votes required to advance out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee this week.
The bill would have increased density and height limits for projects within half a mile of major transit hubs. (This would have significantly impacted San Francisco, given its dense transit lines.) The Chronicle notes that, having been the subject of much debate, “Wiener amended the bill twice since introducing it in January in hopes of getting it through its first committee. He lowered the allowable height of buildings from eight stories, made the implementation date 2021 instead of 2019, and included a minimum number of affordable units that projects would have to include . . . He also agreed to stipulate that any tenant forced to move because of a project approved under SB 827 could return to the property when it was finished, at the same monthly rent. The developer would have had to cover rental assistance during construction for up to 3½ years.”
Senator Wiener expressed an interest in making changes to the bill to introduce it in the 2019 legislative year
Assemblymember Bonta has introduced AB 2925, providing for “good cause” for evictions. Originally, this was stated to be a “just cause for eviction” measure. Currently, most “just causes” for eviction are implemented at the city level (with the exception of the Ellis Act). “Just cause” means that a tenant has a substantive defense to an eviction if the landlord did not serve the eviction notice/terminate the tenancy with an allowable “just cause” (like nonpayment of rent or the desire of the owner to move in).
The meaning of “good cause” is a bit more vague. The current text of the bill would add Section 1946.2 to the Civil Code, to read:
“A landlord shall not issue a notice to terminate a tenancy pursuant to Section 1946 or 1946.1 except upon good cause, as set forth with particularity in the notice. This section is in addition to, and does not supersede or preempt, any other state or local law requiring the showing of good cause prior to the termination of a tenancy.”
This would merely seem to reiterate a protection that tenants already have at the state level – a defense against retaliatory evictions. As the California Supreme Court put it: “The retaliatory eviction doctrine is founded on the premise that a landlord may normally evict a tenant for any reason or for no reason at all, but he may not evict for an improper reason”. (Barela v. Superior Court (1981) 30 Cal. 3d 244, 249.)
In 2009, the Second District issued the opinion Palmer/Sixth Street Properties, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 1396, which vindicated a Los Angeles developer’s challenge to the city’s development plan requiring “vacancy control” for new rental units built in a development project that would remove 60 units of low income housing. The developer contended that the ordinance was preempted by Costa-Hawkins and, that even though Costa-Hawkins did create a carve out where a city provides density bonuses, the developer was not even building to authorized density. The Palmer court noted that, “the issue is whether requiring Palmer’s involuntary compliance with section 11.C’s affordable housing requirements is hostile or inimical to Palmer’s right under the Costa–Hawkins Act to establish the initial rental rates for the project’s dwelling units. We conclude that it is”.
Effective January 1, 2018, AB 1505, referred to as the “Palmer fix”, now authorizes cities to adopt ordinances that require, as a condition of development, that the development include a certain percentage of below-market rate rental units (or alternatives for in-lieu fees or off-site units).
San Francisco has had density bonus “accessory dwelling unit” ordinances, that provide property owners to exceed density limits in adding additional units, on the condition that they record agreements to subject the units to the Rent Ordinance. In response to AB 1505, the Board of Supervisors is also working on implementing the Palmer fix at the local level, with several changes to the Planning Code to amend the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.
Today, AB 1506 – the Assembly Bill aiming to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, failed to obtain the necessary votes to get out of the Housing and Community Development Committee. Costa-Hawkins prevents cities from imposing “strict” vacancy control (i.e., maintaining rental rates even after all tenants vacate) and it exempts certain kinds of property (like single family homes, condominiums and “new construction”) from price controls.
AB 1506 would simply have repealed Sections 1954.50, et seq. of the Civil Code, eliminating the preemptive state law, but it fell one vote short of the necessary four. Another repeal effort, styled as The Affordable Housing Act, may be headed to voters this November, if it obtains the necessary signatures by a June 28, 2018 deadline.
AB 291 now imposes broad restrictions against threats by landlords (and attorneys) relating to immigration status. In addition to now making it lawful to “Threaten to disclose information regarding or relating to the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant, occupant, or other person known to the landlord to be associated with a tenant or occupant”, the new law also provides for defenses to unlawful detainer actions where the tenant can establish that the landlord filed the action because of the tenants immigration status.
In fact, a tenant may establish this by showing that the action is based on any of the following:
(A) The failure at any time of a previously approved tenant or occupant to provide a valid social security number.
(B) The failure at any time of a previously approved tenant or occupant to provide information required to obtain a consumer credit report under Section 1785.11 of the Civil Code.
(C) The failure at any time of a previously approved tenant or occupant to provide a form of identification deemed acceptable by the landlord.
As some of these may innocuously relate to the landlord’s ability to verify the creditworthiness of their renters, both property managers and practitioners will want to be cautious in crafting three day notices as unlawful detainer complaints.
The full text of AB 291 is available here.