On May 13, 2020, a bill numbered SB 939 became a lighting-rod in California. It proposed that certain Covid-impacted tenants could terminate their leases.
Authored by Senator Wiener, SB 939 gained momentum when it passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 5-1 in favor of the bill. It then moved to the Appropriations Committee of the Senate.
During the June 18, 2020 Appropriations Committee hearing, SB 939 failed to advance.
Amendments Not Enough: According to Senator Wiener’s office, before the June 18 hearing, Senator Wiener proposed amendments to SB 939, but it was not enough to generate the required support. Based on prior comments by Senator Wiener, the amendments may have included replacing the lease termination right with something “softer.”
Strong Opposition By Real Estate Industry: Senator Wiener is disappointed by the outcome. According to Senator Wiener’s Communications Director, Catie Stewart, the bill died, in part, because of the “strong opposition of the commercial real estate industry.” This opposition was led by AIR CRE, the California Business Properties Association, and others.
Prospects of Similar Bill By Senator Wiener: Ms. Stewart says that Senator Wiener “will continue to fight to make sure the legislature does something to support small businesses and nonprofits. It is a tough time for everyone and he wants to do more.”
I asked Ms. Stewart if Senator Wiener might propose a similar bill that may be able to achieve necessary support in the California legislature. She stated it was “very unlikely” he would do so at this point.