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LENO.jpegSen. Mark Leno, facing stiff opposition from landlords and other business groups, is dropping his bill aimed at thwarting investors who buy up San Francisco apartment buildings and evict tenants to convert units into pricey condominiums.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1439,. was backed by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other local officials in response to tenant groups that had complained that the condo conversions were accelerating and hurting low- and moderate-income renters.

The conflict has been part of a larger kerfuffle in San Francisco over the social impacts of high-income employees of the burgeoning Bay Area technology industry.

The condo conversions are legal under a four-decade-old California law called the Ellis Act, which was enacted in response to local rent control ordinances that blocked landlords from taking rental units off the market. It allows evictions if property owners plan to exit the rental business.

SB 1439 would have blocked conversions in San Francisco by anyone who owned rental property for less than five years. It became one of the year's most heavily lobbied measures.

After passing the Senate, however, it failed to win approval in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee when two of the committee's Democrats voted against it in response to landlord opposition.

Although Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, got permission to seek a second vote in the committee, his office confirmed Tuesday that he's dropping the bill.

PHOTO: Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, talking to reporters at the Capitol June 19, 2013. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli.


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