June 19, 2020
California SB 939 failed to advance from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The bill would have placed a moratorium on commercial evictions but was held on the suspense file and failed to make it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
If it had passed opponents say the bill would have allowed businesses to withhold rent indefinitely and created a new, special protected class of businesses that could walk away from lease obligations altogether, with the debt transferring to the property owner. SB 939 could have led to widespread commercial property foreclosures and job losses.
California Business Properties Association (CBPA)’s Rex S. Hime, said of the bill’s failure to move forward, “Thankfully, legislators made the right choice to keep this bill on suspense. SB 939 is a bad bill. It is far too broad and would have done serious damage to California’s economy.
“The negative impacts of SB 939 would have been particularly bad for affordable housing projects that rely on the commercial portion to secure funding, and currently underserved communities where investment capital is already difficult to attract. Even though this bill is stalled out for now, we’ll be keeping watch to make sure the language doesn’t find its way back into another bill at some point,” Hime said.
The bill’s authors, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), envisioned SB 939 as a way to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wiener and Gonzalez issued a joint statement after the bill didn’t advance, saying “Today, the Senate missed a major opportunity to throw a lifeline to small businesses and nonprofits by helping them survive the COVID-19 economic collapse.”
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