San Francisco, CA; March 13, 2017: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected San Francisco’s attempt to scuttle a major Pacific Legal Foundation court victory for the city’s landlords.
At issue was PLF’s federal district court victory in 2014 over the city’s since-repealed Tenant Relocation Ordinance, a confiscatory law that barred landlords from removing their units from the rental market unless they paid huge sums to their tenants.
PLF challenged that ordinance on behalf of, among others, Dan and Maria Levin, who live in the upstairs unit of their two-story home. They were seeking to use the lower unit for friends and family, but they would have had to pay their tenant a staggering sum — as much as $118,000 — for the ability to do so.
In a ruling on October 21, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer agreed with PLF that the law’s whopping financial demands were unconstitutional because landlords were being forced to bear the cost of social problems — such as overall rental-housing shortages and high costs — that they didn’t cause.
Soon thereafter, San Francisco repealed the ordinance, substituting it with another law. Yet the city persisted in seeking to have Judge Breyer’s ruling overturned. Today, in an unpublished decision, the appellate court ruled that the repeal made the appeal moot.
“The 9th Circuit was correct not to let the city draw it into a pointless decision on a law that is long gone,” said PLF Senior Attorney J. David Breemer. “Moreover, everyone who values property rights should be glad that Judge Breyer’s decision, with its powerful analysis and application of constitutional protections, was left undisturbed.”
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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 11 victories out of 13 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.