Landlords allege the city is in contempt by allowing a moratorium of evictions of seniors and those with disabilities to continue despite a Superior Court Judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.
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Moratorium On Evictions Resurfaces
S.F. panel OKs amended plan to circumvent ruling
By Edward Epstein
Chronicle Staff Writer
Even though an earlier version was ruled unconstitutional, an amended plan to protect San Francisco seniors and the disabled from evictions was approved by a supervisors committee yesterday.
Landlords immediately warned that if the temporary owner move-in moratorium is enacted by the full board and Mayor Willie Brown, they will move to have the city held in contempt and fined.
Yesterday’s amendment, introduced by Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Sue Bierman, dealt with objections raised by Superior Court Judge Raymond Williamson and a three-judge Court of Appeal panel that the moratorium deprived landlords of due process. The supervisors set forth procedures for landlords and tenants to follow in the event of an attempted eviction.
But it didn’t deal with a second finding by Williamson. He said the moratorium constituted an illegal taking of private property without compensation, since people who bought a building of two units or more could be barred from moving into their own property.
The new moratorium, which would last until June 30, 1999, would protect those over age 60 or the disabled who have lived in their units for at least 10 years from evictions by landlords who want to move in the unit themselves, or move in with family members. It also covers people with AIDS or other catastrophic illnesses who have lived in a unit for five years.
The moratorium would apply to buildings of two units or more. Supervisors originally passed the law last December. In April, Williamson ruled it unconstitutional.
“Judge Williamson’s original ruling is still in effect. Even if you cure the due process objections, this moratorium still constitutes a taking,” said Janan New of the San Francisco Apartment Association, which represents building owners.
She warned the Housing and Neighborhood Services Committee, “The city will be in contempt of Williamson’s order. Landlords will seek a contempt order and fines against the city. The city will end up having to pay more in damages and legal fees.”
Randy Shaw of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic told the supervisors not to buckle to such threats. “I would not put much stock in the idea that you are doing something illegal. Williamson’s decision is unpublished and is not binding.”
He and other tenants leaders told the supervisors that evictions of seniors and the disabled continue at a high level in a city with an ultra-low vacancy rate. They are soliciting signatures for a November ballot initiative to make the owner move-in moratorium permanent for seniors and the disabled and to require landlords who do move in to live in the unit for three years.