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The cost of existence in this town has been soaring since the early 90’s and has resulted in the exodus of people of moderate to low income. The greatest single factor in this flight has been the lack of affordable rentals, which is directly attributable to abuse of the so called “Ellis Act.” This law, enacted in 1985 to help landlords who wanted out of the rental business, has long since been co-opted by unscrupulous developers who use it as a tool to clear out tenants from rent controlled properties and flip the buildings for huge profits. This subversion of our local rent control laws has been devastating to thousands of people deemed essential to the overall well-being of our City, including teachers, emergency personnel, young families and especially our artists. 

State Senator Mark Leno has introduced a bill (1439) which aims to slow down this type of development by requiring owners of residential rental property to hold on to their buildings for a minimum of 5 years before flipping it. It’s a simple remedy that should remove the greediest of developers from the equation and slow down the evictions. As modest as this bill is, it represents the single biggest reform of the Ellis Act in its 30 years of existence. 

Though the bill has a good deal of momentum at the Capitol one can never be sure of the outcome for there is little support of rent control in this State outside of Santa Monica and San Francisco. The bill is scheduled for hearing on April 8 in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. Those concerned with its passage should write an email of support to Senator Mark DeSaulnier, Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation & Housing no later than Wednesday, April 2. 


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