San Francisco State Senator Mark Leno's bill to tighten what critics have called loopholes in the state's Ellis Act—which allows for certain categories of no-fault apartment evictions—has failed a key test in the State Assembly this morning on a 3-4 vote, with two of Leno's fellow Democrats voting in opposition. However, the committee did grant the bill a parliamentary option called reconsideration, which allows Leno to bring it up for another vote at a later time. Advocates and policymakers have focused on the Ellis Act as one component to easing San Francisco housing affordability crisis.
Although the vote comes as a blow to Leno, the bill has already survived one defeat in the State Senate by using a similar procedure. Were it to pass the Assembly Committee on Housing, it would still need to be voted on by the full Assembly, and then would go before Governor Jerry Brown for signature or veto.
In response to losing the first vote on the floor of the Senate, Leno made compromises, softening the language of the bill by exempting smaller landlords in San Francisco. It's not clear yet if he'll be able to strike a similar bargain with members of the Assembly Committee. For her part, Republican Assemblymember Beth Gaines tweeted that she had, "Just voted to oppose #SB1439 in Housing Committee. The bill is a direct assault on property rights."
Although the effort to amend the use of the state's Ellis Act has enjoyed wide support from San Francisco's local elected officials, including Mayor Ed Lee and President of the Board of Supervisors David Chiu, it has struggled to gain traction with more moderate and conservative legislators in Sacramento. The deadline for policy committee to move bills to the floor is June 27th.