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A San Francisco judge Friday declared the city’s restrictions on creating tenancies-in-common in violation of California’s constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection. Superior Court Judge A. James Robertson II’s ruling rejected the city’s attempt to regulate conversion of apartments into TIC units. In July 2001 the city enacted an ordinance limiting the number of apartment conversions into tenancies-in-common. A TIC is a homeowner device in which several people agree to buy a building and divide it up into separate units. But city officials view the conversions as a further reduction in the number of residential rental units available to people who cannot afford to buy their own home. The lawsuit challenging the restriction filed by the Small Property Owners of San Francisco, Tom v. City and County of San Francisco, 323591, argued that they were denied use of their own buildings. Plaintiffs attorney Andrew Zacks hailed the decision as a victory for small property owners, who brought the challenge to the restrictions more than a year and half ago. “This ruling allows people to live in the buildings they own,” Zacks said. “Property owners who want to live in their homes can do so without the government coming into their bedroom.” Deputy City Attorney Andrew Schwartz, who defended the conversion ordinance, said his office had not yet decided whether to appeal. Schwartz said the judge appeared to ignore state and local law that regulated the conversion of apartments into owner-occupied units. “A TIC is a blatant circumvention of state and local law,” the city’s lawyer said. Zacks, of the Law Offices of Andrew Zacks, said he would seek attorneys fees from the city and hopes there is an appeal. “We’re looking forward to getting some appellate review to prevent these violations in the future,” he said. “We relish defending Judge Robertson’s decision.”

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