Herrera Wins Another Round in Case to Protect Affordable Housing

U.S. District Court win in San Remo Hotel case upholds City’s Residential Hotel Conversion Ordinance

City Attorney Dennis Herrera today heralded yet another courtroom victory in defense of San Francisco’s Residential Hotel Conversion Ordinance, a longstanding measure that has provided a critically important source of funding to offset the negative impacts to low-income housing stock when residential hotels permanently convert to tourist use. The decision in the case of San Remo Hotel vs. City and County of San Francisco by Judge D. Lowell Jensen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the City’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s third amended complaint.

“We applaud the court for its sound judgment in granting local government the flexibility to mitigate the harmful effects of real estate development and adopt reasonable measures to preserve affordable housing and other community interests,” said Herrera. “The Hotel Conversion Ordinance has played an important role in preserving limited affordable housing in San Francisco, and we’re extremely pleased with Judge Jensen’s decision.”

The City was similarly victorious in defending the Residential Hotel Ordinance and certain Planning Code policies promoting retention of affordable housing in March 2002, when the California Supreme Court’s decision in the case allowed local and state governments to continue their widespread use of development impact fees. Lawyers for the San Remo Hotel — aided by the Pacific Legal Foundation, an arch-conservative legal organization that has been a frequent nemesis of San Francisco policies — subsequently filed a takings case in Federal District Court.

In the order filed Wednesday, the Judge Jensen found that San Remo’s takings claims were barred by the statute of limitations and collateral estoppel based on the California Supreme Court’s resolution of the takings claims on the merits. The case (No. C-93-1644-DLJ) was argued by Deputy City Attorney Andrew Schwartz.