AB 2502 (Mullin) – Restores authority of locals to enact inclusionary housing policies. This reverses the Palmer decision from 2009. In 2009, a state appellate court ruling in the Palmer v. City of Los Angeles case indicated that the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Costa-Hawkins) prohibits local governments from creating affordable rental housing through local inclusionary programs. AB 2502 is identical to AB 1229 (Atkins), which Governor Brown vetoed in 2013. In his veto message, the Governor indicated that prior to making a legislative change regarding inclusionary housing; he wanted to wait for the California Supreme Court to issue its decision on the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) v. City of San Jose case. In this case, CBIA argued that San Jose’s 15% inclusionary housing ordinance is unconstitutional on the basis of the Fifth Amendment, which indicates that private property should not be taken for public use without just compensation. In June 2015, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld San Jose’s inclusionary housing ordinance and ruled that the ordinance is an exercise of the city’s police power. The U.S. Supreme Court just decided not to hear the case.
AB 2502 restores local governments’ ability to enact inclusionary housing policies by saying the Costa-Hawkins rent control law does not apply to inclusionary housing policies. This bill amends the state’s Planning and Zoning law to indicate that inclusionary zoning is an allowable land use power.
AB 2819 (Chiu) - Under California Code of Civil Procedure § 1161.2(a)(5), court records in eviction lawsuits (termed “unlawful detainers” or “UDs”) become public within 60-days unless tenants win before the deadline. While UDs are supposed to be heard within 20-days of filing, statewide delays can push hearings past the 60-day mark.
The bill is sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and they contend that as a result of the delays, the identities of thousands of tenants—many of whom eventually win or whose cases may never be heard—are revealed at the 60-day mark. Companies capture and publish lists of these tenants’ names, where they may remain for up to seven years. In other words, mere involvement in an eviction lawsuit becomes grounds for tenant blacklisting. WCLP fix is to change existing law and keep tenant records private unless landlords prevail within 60-days of filing eviction lawsuits.
So let’s see, if landlord prevails after 60-day time frame, the information is shielded from the landlords who rely on this information to distinguish between problematic and innocent tenants and end up renting to someone who is a problematic tenant because information that normally would be available has been excluded from the applicants credit report?
SB 876 (Liu) - This bill prohibits law enforcement from citing or arresting the homeless for eating, resting, and practicing religion in public spaces. Bill defines public space to mean any property that is owned by a
government entity or any property upon which there is an easement for public use and that is held open to the public, including, but not limited to, plazas, courtyards, parking lots, sidewalks, public transportation facilities and services, public buildings, shopping centers, and parks. It goes on to say, Persons experiencing homelessness shall be permitted to 8use public space in the ways described in this section at any time that the public space is open to the public without discrimination based upon their housing status, and without being subject to criminal, civil, or administrative penalties.
Similar to SB 608 from last year that did not move. Establish a right to live on the streets, thus creating unsanitary conditions, impeding business, and creating intimidating and uncomfortable environments that will be
undesirable for others to visit. The Chamber of Commerce and law enforcement opposed. SDCAA can oppose, but I would let others kill this. We will have our hands full with a number of bills that deal with affordable housing and homelessness.
SB 1053 (Leno) - SECTION 8 – While Senator Leno may not be pursuing Ellis Act reforms in 2016 (at least not yet) he has introduced legislation, SB 1053, that would make it unlawful to deny housing based on an applicant receiving Section 8 assistance; property owners would have to rent to Section 8 voucher holders under the legislation if enacted. The Section 8 program requires owners and operators abide by federal regulations that may differ from state and local laws. Forcing owners to work with local housing agency and their complex rules when they may not want to deal with the overly burdensome regulations and/or may not have the resources to accept Section 8 housing is unacceptable. Accepting Section 8 should remain voluntary and property owners certainly should not be forced into a situation that may compromise the financial viability of their properties.
And some not so bad bills….
AB 2003 (Lackey) - AB 2003 seeks to address this by requiring the tenant to share details of any habitability concerns when responding to the lawsuit (prior to appearing in court) and specify if they have contacted the owner or code enforcement about the problems. In some cases, this may help clarify any misunderstandings and allow landlords to work directly with the tenant to correct these issues so that an unlawful detainer lawsuit is not necessary. In others, it may allow both parties to be better prepared for the court hearing and eliminate the need for delays.
This bill requires that if a tenant claims they are not current on their monthly rent due to the property being uninhabitable, they must disclose whether they have contacted the owner about the problem or their respective local code enforcement, and provide details about the nature of the problem. It also reaffirms that notification must be given to the landlord in a timely manner when the tenant hires an attorney to represent them. Additionally, it specifies that unlawful detainer cases should be processed in the courthouse closest to the property.
AB 2760 (Mathis) – CAR sponsored bill - This bill would permit a landlord to allow a tenant to maintain a companion animal on the property provided: 1) the tenant has obtained a prescription validating the need for the companion animal from a California-licensed mental health care professional that may be verified by the landlord, and 2) the tenant complies with all federal, state and local requirements (e.g. vaccination/sterilization requirements). Unlike service animals, companion animals are not individually trained to perform any specific task. Companion animals, and arguably all pets, simply provide comfort to an individual. A pet is any animal kept for pleasure rather than utility. Pets provide companionship, protection, and physical/emotional benefits to their owners. Because companion animals are not afforded the same protections under the ADA or California State Law, there is lots of confusion for housing providers.
Landlords who permit pets onsite may require tenants to pay a separate pet deposit to cover any damages, which may not exceed two months’ rent. Landlords also have the right to prohibit all pets, or to restrict the type, number, or size of pets or dog breeds allowed. However, many landlords are facing lawsuits from individuals claiming pets as service animals. In many cases, the tenant is not required to furnish any official paperwork showing the need for the animal.
While pets do provide companionship and comfort, a tenant must show an actual need for the animal in order to claim them as “service animals.” This process ensures that the animal is both properly trained and will pose no threat to the safety of others. Too often, landlords are subjected to untrained animals being brought onto their property without proper notice. Many of these animals cause extensive property damage and threaten the safety of other tenants and their service animals. AB 2760 will require the furnishing of a tenant’s medical need for a companion animal prior to it being allowed in a place of residence that limits pets.
Also in the news….
Supporters of a property tax surcharge have abandoned efforts to qualify their measure for the November ballot.
The property-tax initiative, titled “Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act,” would have created a tax surcharge on all commercial and residential properties in the state assessed at over $3 million.
While the number of signatures needed to qualify and initiative is lower in 2016 than in years past (this is a result of the low voter turnout in 2014), collecting the 585,407 signatures needed to qualify the proposition for the November 2016 ballot was not doable according to the campaign manager.
This does not mean they are going away. The primary backers of the initiative said they try and qualify it for November 2018