Court Upholds S.F. Eviction Ban

carolyn gold

Garrick Wong/Public Press

Carolyn Gold, shown here at the Bar Association of San Francisco where she worked in 2018, is director of litigation and policy at the Eviction Defense Collaborative, which argued in San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of the moratorium.

A challenge to San Francisco’s eviction moratorium lost in court Monday.

The San Francisco Apartment Association and three co-plaintiffs sued the City and County of San Francisco in June to overturn legislation that took eviction permanently off the table for unpaid rents due during the pandemic. They argued that it was an unconstitutional taking of property and pre-empted state law. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charles Haines heard arguments in the case Friday before ruling in favor of the city.

“This is a resounding victory for vulnerable tenants in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Dean Preston, the legislation’s author, on Twitter.

“Absent our legislation, when the eviction moratorium expires, there would have been thousands of filings to give tenants notice that they have 3 days to pay or quit,” Preston said, referring to the first step in the eviction process.

The eviction ban’s current timetable makes it illegal for landlords to ever evict tenants for unpaid rents that were due between March 16 and Sept. 30, said Kyle Smealie, legislative aide to Preston and an expert on the law. The timetable is tied to executive orders from Gov. Gavin Newsom, and subsequent orders could further extend it.

One of the attorneys fighting in favor of the moratorium said she expected Andrew Zacks, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, to push for an appeal. “He thinks that the Court of Appeals will be friendlier to him than the Superior Court,” said Carolyn Gold, director of litigation and policy at the Eviction Defense Collaborative.

The apartment association declined to say whether it would appeal the decision.

Spokesman Charley Goss provided a statement from the plaintiff organizations: “We are disappointed in Judge Haines’ decision. Small property owners who have not been able to collect rent since April are struggling with their own mortgages and expenses. We are reviewing our options moving forward.” 

CORRECTION: The attribution on the statement from the plaintiffs was clarified. A statement about Attorney Carolyn Gold’s involvement in the litigation was corrected.