Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CA State Senator Leland Yee feeling heat from housing rights activists

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) failed to support our bill to protect tenant security deposits, SB 603, and this month reversed his support for inclusionary housing ordinances that would make housing more affordable for more Californians, AB 1229. These votes are drawing the ire of the local tenant rights community.

Dean Preston, Executive Director at Tenants Together, writes at BeyondChron about Sen. Yee's vote on AB 1229, "Senator Leland Yee nearly killed the bill. Yee represents San Francisco which strongly supports inclusionary housing requirements. Despite voting “aye” on SB 184 two years ago, a bill that would have done the exact same thing as the current bill, Senator Leland Yee refused to state his position on the bill for weeks and then voted against it. This was the same thing he did recently when voting against basic security deposit protections in SB 603. His recent anti-tenant and anti-affordable housing votes can only be explained as an effort to attract donations for his statewide race for Secretary of State."

Steve Jones at the San Francisco BayGuardian asks, Are Yee's Anti-Tenant Votes About Courting Contributions from Landlords? On SB 603--Security Deposit Fairness, Yee claimed that it "'would have invited lawsuits against landlords throughout the state, honest and otherwise, which would inevitably lead to property owners taking units off the market and driving up prices.'" SB 603 would have actually provided a more effective disincentive for withholding tenant security deposits, perhaps even reducing the number of tenants who have to go to court to get their deposit back. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) took his colleague to task: "Yee mischaracterized SB 603. 'Those are the talking point of the industry and they're just plain wrong.'" It's concerning to have a state representative like Sen. Yee, who is progressive on many other issues, parroting the talking points of the landlord and real estate lobby.

In a recent letter by the Harvey Milk Democratic Club in San Francisco, President Tom Temprano writes regarding his vote against AB 1229, "This is not your first vote against tenants’ rights and affordable housing. Your recent track record on these matters does not meet our standard of a progressive legislator and deviates from the communities that you’ve committed to representing." The Milk Club has regularly shown support for Yee at the local and statewide level, endorsing him for his race for Mayor in 2011 and presenting him with their Community Ally Award at their Annual Dinner and Gala on this year. Even his supporters are shaking their heads at his recent track record.

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