City and County of San Francisco v. PostAnnotate this Case
In 1998 San Francisco outlawed discrimination against tenants who pay a portion of their rent with a Section 8, or similar, housing voucher by amending San Francisco’s existing housing discrimination ordinance to outlaw discrimination based on a person’s “source of income,” a term defined broadly to include government rent subsidies. In 1999, the California Legislature expanded the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to prohibit discrimination based on a tenant’s “source of income,” but defined the term narrowly, so that it does not reach government rent subsidies (Gov. Code 12955(a)). FEHA does not prevent a landlord from declining to take Section 8 tenants. The trial court and court of appeal held that the ordinance is not preempted by FEHA. The purpose of FEHA is “to provide effective remedies” for the 14 categories of “discriminatory practice” that FEHA itself addresses. FEHA does not reach the discriminatory practice of a landlord refusing to rent to a participant in the Section 8 program. San Francisco’s ordinance prohibiting such conduct has, by definition, a different purpose from FEHA.There is no inherent contradiction between FEHA and the San Francisco ordinance.