Editorial: Newsom: support just-cause eviction law

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For the roughly 20,000 renters living in newer units, evictions can happen on a landlord's whim.

EDITORIAL Mayor Gavin Newsom, reeling from criticism of his disappearing act last week and his failure to quickly reengage with San Francisco, has an opportunity to repair some of his tattered image, particularly among progressives, and mend fences with the majority of the Board of Supervisors. It wouldn't even require a dramatic or groundbreaking step — all he has to do is agree to sign legislation by Sup. John Avalos extending eviction protections to roughly 20,000 vulnerable San Francisco renters.

The Avalos legislation clears up a lingering loophole in the city's rent-control ordinance, a leftover piece of a bad deal that tenants were forced to accept when the city first moved to limit rent hikes 20 years ago. Back in 1978, with greedy landlords taking advantage of a housing shortage to jack up rents by astronomical rates, the supervisors and then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein were under immense pressure to pass some kind of control. But the landlord-friendly mayor and at-large elected board were unwilling to do what Berkeley had done across the bay by setting permanent limits on how much landlords could raise prices. Instead, they approved a watered-down measure aimed largely at fending off a tenant initiative that would have gone further.