Council President Sean Elo-Rivera in April 2021. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

Days before the Sept. 30 expiration of the city’s no-fault eviction moratorium, City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera is eager to pursue new tenant protections at a time of surging rents and economic uncertainty. 

But Elo-Rivera said last week that proposed tenant protection updates are held up in City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office months after his office submitted potential updates for her office to review.  

Unsurprisingly, Elliott’s office has a different take. An Elliott spokeswoman says city attorneys are awaiting a response from Elo-Rivera’s office on legal concerns their office laid out in a Sept. 2 memo. 

The situation marks the latest tension between Elo-Rivera and Elliott, who earlier this month publicly accused the council president of trying to silence her. The latest clash comes as advocates fear a wave of evictions after protections expire on Friday. 

Moving forward with those proposals won’t simply rest on city attorneys’ next steps. Once Elo-Rivera’s proposals clear the legal review process, he will still need to secure Council consensus to proceed. That isn’t a certainty. 

Earlier this year, Elo-Rivera led the City Council to pass no-fault eviction protections that kept tenants who were up to date on their rent from being booted from their homes. For months, Elo-Rivera has said he wants to pursue a more comprehensive set of protections and has been gathering input from the community and others on the Council. 

In April, the same month the Council approved the no-fault eviction moratorium, Elo-Rivera’s office sent other possible tenant protections to city attorneys.  

Elo-Rivera didn’t specify those proposals in an interview with Voice of San Diego, but said anti-displacement policies included in the Barrio Logan community plan approved last year offer a potential template to be applied elsewhere in. That plan called for relocation assistance for renters whose homes were proposed to be demolished or converted into condos, and extended noticing requirements for landlords before rentals are demolished. 

Elo-Rivera also said he’s interested in permanent no-fault eviction protections. 

After no-fault protections expire Sept. 30, the city will be left with its Tenants’ Right to Know ordinance requiring landlords to provide at least one of nine specific reasons before booting a renter who has lived at a property for more than two years. State law – with some exceptions – separately caps rent increases at 10 percent. 

Elliott spokeswoman Leslie Wolf Branscomb said several lawyers in the City Attorney’s Office have worked diligently on Elo-Rivera’s “complex proposal” while juggling other duties since April. She noted that city rules dictate requests for legal analysis from the Council or its committees are prioritized ahead of those from the City Council president.  

Still, Wolf Branscomb wrote in an email, city attorneys met with Elo-Rivera’s office on Aug. 18 to discuss “overarching legal concerns” they identified with his proposal and on Sept. 2, they sent written advice outlining their concerns so Elo-Rivera “could address their policy implications and provide us with guidance.” 

“We cannot finalize our legal work without a response from the council president to the issues we identified on Sept. 2, 2022,” Wolf Branscomb wrote. 

Yet Elo-Rivera told Voice the time the legal review has taken has been frustrating given the region’s soaring cost-of-living while many renters are worried about losing their homes.   

“That doesn’t work for me,” Elo-Rivera said.  

He said he wants to offer more certainty to San Diegans living in fear of rent increases and potential displacement, and to help prevent continuing increases in homelessness. 

In a later statement that followed responses to Voice from the City Attorney’s Office, Elo-Rivera said his office appreciated the work of city attorneys and the demands on their time. 

“Our office is committed to a public process where councilmembers and the public can add their input in developing the best set of tenant protections that San Diego residents need and deserve,” Elo-Rivera wrote. 

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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  1. My grandpa an illiterate Pole who signed his name with an x built and owned apartment buildings in Milwaukee circa 1922. You want Havana you got Havana with this SDCC. I am a landlord. I work. I sweat! I cry! I cleaned toilets upon graduating from SDSU. These people are wrong! Landlords work!!!!!!!!!! GO TO WORK SAN DIEGO AND STOP BEING A BABY!!

  2. As usual Che Elo Rivera is creating a bigger problem than the one he is trying to solve. Should his no eviction BS go through , landlords will insist on 2 months security deposit and 800 credit scores as well as having no incentive to ever do a repair. Rivera hurts the most those he purports to represent.

  3. Years ago, the city stopped free trash service to multi-family buildings. A three yard dumpster is almost $200 a month. City of San Diego water and sewer rates continue to go up and the organic waste program required by the city will cost more money. And then there’s the lack of response from the SDPD when you have homeless sleeping in the courtyards. Limited to a max rent increase of 10% per year doesn’t even cover the rate increases directly attributed to the city of San Diego like water and sewer as well as recycling. Elo-Rivera lives in a bubble with no idea of what things cost for the rental property owners.

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