Breyer Invalidates San Francisco Law That Forces Landlords To Pay Tenants To Leave Property

October 21st, 2014

Judge Charles Breyer that is, not his somewhat-more famous brother Justice Stephen Breyer. PLF has the story:

Today, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer sided with Pacific Legal Foundation’s (PLF) lawsuit and struck down San Francisco’s Tenant Relocation Ordinance, as unconstitutional.

Under the ordinance, rental property owners who want to reclaim use of their own property must pay a massive sum to their tenants – a sum that the tenant doesn’t even have to use for relocation purposes.

PLF’s lead clients are Dan and Maria Levin, who live in the upstairs unit of their two-story home.   They would like to use the lower unit for friends and family, but they would have to pay their tenant $118,000 to withdraw it from the rental market.

Judge Breyer found an unconstitutional exaction:

The Court holds that the Ordinance effects an unconstitutional taking by conditioning property owners’ right to withdraw their property on a monetary exaction not sufficiently related to the impact of the withdrawal. See Nollan v. California Coastal Comm’n, 483 U.S. 825, 837 (1987); Dolan v. City of Tigard, 5 512 U.S. 374, 395 (1994); Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt. Dist., 133 S. Ct. 2586, 2599 (2013).

His brother dissented in Koontz, but was not yet on the Court for Nollan or Dolan.

In the event this case makes it to SCOTUS, Justice Breyer would recuse, as is his practice. Just what we need. Another 4-4 Takings case (after Stop the Beach and Justice Stevens’s recusal). Another case where Judge Reinhardt can set Supreme Court policy.