Tenant advocates seek support for reforming Ellis Act 

click to enlarge Couple Gum Gee Lee and Poon Heung Lee were evicted from their longtime Jackson Street home last year after the building owner decided to get out of the rental business. - MIKE KOOZMIN/2013 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/2013 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Couple Gum Gee Lee and Poon Heung Lee were evicted from their longtime Jackson Street home last year after the building owner decided to get out of the rental business.

Tenant advocates in The City and across California are pushing reform of the state Ellis Act, and while the specifics of a bill have yet to be ironed out, an online petition has already gained traction.

The petition available at http://bit.ly/reformellis launched by Tenants Together, a statewide renters' rights organization, had gathered 1,176 signatures as of Thursday evening.

"This really is a first step in what will be a full campaign this year to reform the Ellis Act," the organization's executive director, Dean Preston, said of the law that allows landlords looking to get out of the rental business to evict tenants.

Considering the petition spread mostly within the organization's members starting Nov. 21, Preston called the signatures a "significant number."

"We're seeing mostly folks in San Francisco signing," he said. "But also in the East Bay and Southern California, and in other areas in the state that are hit hard by Ellis Act evictions, or folks who are just signing in solidarity."

Mayor Ed Lee, along with Supervisors David Chiu, David Campos and Malia Cohen, plans to introduce a resolution at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting supporting amendments to state law to return the Ellis Act to local control.

Exact reforms are still under discussion, Preston said, but what is clear is that the bill would target the use of the Ellis Act by real estate speculators and attempt to give cities power to prevent them from doing so.

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is among potential legislators who have indicated interest in authoring the reform legislation, according to Preston.

The organization hopes to gather between 5,000 and 10,000 signatures by late February, the deadline for bill introductions.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Bio:
Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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