San Francisco tenants turned out in force in Sacramento to lobby for SB 1439 (Leno), a crucial bill to reform the Ellis Act. Co-sponsored by Tenants Together, SB 1439 would stop speculators from using the Ellis Act to evict tenants from newly acquired properties in San Francisco. Senator Leno made a strong case to his colleagues of how abuse of the Ellis Act is driving tenants out of San Francisco.
The bill passed Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 5-2, a decisive vote that gives advocates significant momentum as the bill heads to the Senate floor. Senators Jackson, Corbett, Monning, Lara, and Leno voted in favor of the bill in committee.
Tenants facing Ellis Act evictions lined up to testify, packed the hearing room and spilled out into the hallway. Labor, tech, and tenant organizations joined forces as part of the broad coalition in support of this bill.
The opposition (which consists only of real estate interests) was left sputtering false information about the bill. Senator Leno directly confronted opposition arguments that the bill would prevent property owners from selling their buildings, revealing such claims as patently false.
Lacking any serious arguments against the bill, the real estate industry appears to be relying on their campaign donations to command enough votes to kill SB 1439 on the Senate floor. However, they may be underestimating the strong coalition that has developed for Ellis Act reform. San Francisco’s Mayor, the entire Board of Supervisors, the entire San Francisco delegation in Sacramento, every tenant organization in San Francisco, 75 tech companies, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, the California Music and Culture Association, the California Labor Federation, the Western Center on Law & Poverty, and dozens of other groups are united for Ellis Act reform.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a vote this month.