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Realtors Say They’ll Sue to Block Restaurant Rent Abatement Plan

Also: The Oakland bar owner credited with the invention of fantasy football has died, and more news to start your day

San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade 2018
California realty groups say they’ll sue to block legislation proposed by Senator Scott Wiener to allow restaurants more time to make up rent payments.
Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Real estate groups across California say they’ll sue to kill legislation that would let bars and restaurants pay back missed rent payments over the next year

Forner San Francisco Supervisor turned State Senator Scott Wiener proposed California State Bill 939 earlier this month, a plan he concocted with Sen. Lena Gonzalez that would allow bars and restaurants to end leases early, pay back rent payments missed during the pandemic over a 12-month period, and ban commercial evictions during the crisis. On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-1 to advance the bill, the SF Chronicle reports, progress that dismayed real estate groups that say the plan will deal a mortal blow to the state’s landlords.

At Friday’s hearing, Rob Lapsley, the president of business lobby the California Business Roundtable (BBR), said that his organization would sue to block the bill, should it be approved by the state Senate and Assembly. The CBR isn’t the only one opposed to the plan, as Justin Thompson, a real estate partner with global law firm Nixon Peabody tells the Commercial Observer that “it was illuminating to see so many industry organizations come out ‘so vehemently opposed’” to the bill.” Matthew Hargrove, senior VP of government relations for the California Business Properties Association, joined the chorus of opposition, saying that the law, if enacted “could cause a financial collapse” for the state’s commercial real estate industry.

For his part, Wiener says that he understands the concerns of property owners, but “restaurants, bars, and cafes are expected, frankly, to just suck it up, and magically come up with the high rent that was obtained in pre-COVID circumstances.”

“These landlords aren’t going to be able to collect the pre-COVID rents from these restaurants, bars and cafes,” Wiener tells the Commercial Observer. “That is not the reality. The choice is not between full rent and reduced rent. The choice is between reduced rent and no rent.”

And in other news...

  • Andy Mousalimas, a World War II hero who owned (among other establishments) King X, Oakland’s first sports bar and where the past time of fantasy football reportedly began, died last week in a Manteca hospital. He was 95. [The Stockton Record]
  • Novelist and Lower Haight resident Andrew Sean Greer worries over the shops, restaurants, and bars in his neighborhood, all of which are struggling during the pandemic. [Esquire]
  • A $100 million ballot measure championed by SF-based food delivery service Doordash (as well as Uber and Lyft) that seeks to exempt the companies from classifying its workers as employees with benefits has qualified for the November 2020 election. [Sacramento Bee]
  • Moni Frailing, a grill cook at the Progress, has launched an Instagram-based bread, spread, and pickle delivery service that’s now selling out a week in advance. [SF Chronicle]
  • Closed since Mid-March, Bay Area-based candy company See’s has reopened its kitchens and even some stores. [KPIX]
  • Popular Los Gatos restaurant Nick’s Next Door has reportedly closed for good, Chef/owner Nick Difu said in a Facebook post that “After a lot of careful consideration, and partly because of the uncertainty of the restaurant world, I have sadly decided to walk away from the restaurant.” [San Jose Mercury News]
  • The Outer Richmond’s Balboa Theater, which is of course shuttered to patrons, is doing occasional popcorn and movie treat pop-ups that — so far — are drawing blockbuster-level crowds. [Richmond Review]

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