A recently enacted city ordinance to mitigate the potentially devastating financial impacts on tenants who are evicted under the state Ellis Act is well positioned to overcome a pair of legal challenges filed late last week, according to City Attorney Dennis Herrera and the measure's primary sponsor, Supervisor David Campos. On Thursday, July 24, lawyers from the Pacific Legal Foundation, an arch-conservative public advocacy firm, filed suit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to invalidate the law, which they allege violates the U.S. Constitution's takings and due process clauses, and also violates the state Ellis Act itself. On the same day, veteran real estate litigator Andrew M. Zacks sued the city and six individual tenants in San Francisco Superior Court to strike down the law, largely on state preemption and procedural grounds.
Said City Attorney Herrera: "I'm confident that the arguments both legal attacks present are non-starters. My office was already successful in defending tenant relocation assistance payments in the 2006 Pieri decision, and courts have previously recognized that the Ellis Act allows for local authority to mitigate harms caused by tenant evictions. Our amended ordinance balances San Francisco's compelling public interest to protect renters from financial devastation -- including homelessness, in some cases -- with the property rights of landlords. It creates administrative procedures that previously didn't exist to make sure small property owners are protected from undue economic burdens, and it is well within San Francisco's policy-making authority under existing law."
Supervisor Campos, the law's primary sponsor, added: "My legislation was carefully crafted to address the reality that rents have recently skyrocketed in San Francisco. In early 2014, the median rental list price for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was $4,150 a month. Before passage of my ordinance, when a tenant was evicted under the Ellis Act, in the vast majority of cases, he or she was forced to leave the City. The average person and family in San Francisco cannot afford current market rates. The new relocation assistance amount gives tenants a fighting chance to continue living in the City so their children can continue learning in local schools and individuals can remain stable parts of their community. I am confident that legal precedent allowing legislators to mitigate adverse impacts of Ellis evictions include the right to craft legislation aimed at allowing tenants to continue living in the City they love."
City Attorney Herrera won a key legal victory in January when a San Francisco Superior Court granted his motion for preliminary injunction against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, or ACCJC. Under terms of the ruling, the ACCJC is barred from finalizing its planned termination of City College of San Francisco's accreditation as it had planned to do on July 31. Still, Herrera's litigation -- which alleges that the private accrediting body has allowed political bias, improper procedures, and conflicts of interest to unlawfully influence its evaluation of the state's largest community college -- continues.
After a thirteen year battle that broke new legal ground and consumed years of work by public and private attorneys, the City and County of San Francisco along with Santa Clara County, Los Angeles County and seven other California cities and counties won a $1.1 billion judgment from the Honorable Judge James P. Kleinberg of Santa Clara Superior Court, who ruled that three manufacturers of lead-based paints are jointly liable for the cost of removing their products from homes around the state.
City Attorney Herrera has filed a class action against the State of Nevada for its controversial "patient dumping" practices -- busing hundreds of indigent people who suffer from mental health afflictions to out-of-state locations, including San Francisco, "with inadequate provisions of food and medication, and without prior arrangements for their care, housing or medical treatment upon arrival." The lawsuit is on behalf of all California localities affected by the practice.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is engaged in litigation against Monster Beverage Corporation for violating California law with its marketing of highly-caffeinated energy drinks to children as young as six-years-old, despite scientific findings that such products may cause "significant morbidity in adolescents" from elevated blood pressure, brain seizures, and severe cardiac events.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed suit against three gun accessories companies and a gun show promoter for selling disassembled high-capacity magazines in California in violation of a state law that prohibits the sale, manufacture, or import of gun ammunition feeding devices that accept more than 10 rounds. The equipment is marketed as gun magazine "repair kits" in a barely-disguised attempt to skirt a 14-year-old California gun safety law, according to Herrera's complaint.