S.F. fails in assault on PLF’s big court win for local landlords
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At issue was PLF’s federal district court victory in 2014 over the city’s since-repealed Tenant Relocation Ordinance, a confiscatory law that barred landlords from removing their units from the rental market unless they paid huge sums to their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Soon thereafter, San Francisco repealed the ordinance, substituting it with another law.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 Today, in an unpublished decision, the appellate court ruled that the repeal made the appeal moot.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.”
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Pacific Legal Foundation, America’s most powerful ally for justice, litigates in courts nationwide for limited government, property rights, individual liberty, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations. PLF represents all clients free of charge.
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In 2014 PLF successfully asked a federal court to strike down a San Francisco ordinance that required landlords to pay their tenants the difference between the rent they charged (often low due to rent control policies) and the current market rent for two years if the landlord removed their property from the rental market under California’s Ellis Act Under the ordinance, some property owners were required to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in some cases, millions, just to stop being landlords After PLF’s victory on behalf of the Levins, San Francisco amended its ordinance to cap the amount landlords could be forcedRead more
Today, the City of San Francisco issued a press statement announcing its plans to appeal its recent loss in the case of Levin et al v City and County of San Francisco In that case, a federal court held that the City unconstitutionally took private property in enacting a law requiring landlords to pay tenants massive sums of money ($118,000 for the Levins) before they can leave the rental business See here for a summary of the decision
In its statement today, the City bemoaned yesterday’s defeat and the important limits it sets on the ability of government to extort property in the permit process:
“This decision places a new and significant obstacle in front of cities defendingRead more