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Hearing on Santa Monica Eviction Issue Postponed

October 16, 1986

The city of Santa Monica and its Rent Control Board have agreed to postpone hearing a city lawsuit challenging the legality of evictions under the state Ellis Act. In return, landlords named in the suit have pledged not to evict their tenants before the suit is heard, the landlords' attorneys said.

The act, which became law July 1, prohibits municipalities from forcing landlords to stay in the residential rental business. But landlords and the city differ as to whether building owners may evict tenants as a means of quitting business. The city's suit challenges the legality of such evictions.

The city is also asking for a preliminary restraining order that would prohibit evictions of about 35 tenants in five buildings owned by Santa Monica landlord Henry Yarmark.

City Atty. Robert M. Myers said Yarmark's attorney has agreed to halt evictions until the suit can be heard in Santa Monica Superior Court on Nov. 7. The hearing had been set for Tuesday.

The city states in its suit that the Ellis Act does not allow landlords to evict their tenants in order to go out of business. It also states that if the court does find that the act allows evictions, then it is unconstitutional because it violates a provision of the state Constitution giving legislative and police powers to municipalities.

Santa Monica's rent control law allows evictions only for such reasons as failure to pay rent or lease violations. But Gordon P. Gitlen, Yarmark's attorney, has contended that because the act gives landlords the right to go out of business, the law must also allow landlords to evict their tenants.

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