Gray’s legacy: still more laws for 2004 |

Gray’s legacy: still more laws for 2004

Before voters recalled him last year, former Gov. Gray Davis signed more than 900 bills into law. Given his precarious position, he vetoed very few bills, some passed by liberal Democrats fully aware of his predicament.

Lease deposits

Landlords in non-residential leases now have 30 days to return the remainder of a security deposit rather than two weeks.

Gender discrimination/

appropriate dress

San Francisco Assemblyman Leno sponsored a bill, signed by the governor, that prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on “perceptions of an individual’s gender, regardless of whether the perceived gender characteristics are different from those traditionally associated with the individual’s sex at birth.” Employers may require employees to adhere to reasonable workplace appearance and standards consistent with state or local law, provided that employees are allowed to appear or dress consistent with their gender identity. I think this means that if a guy wants to wear a dress, he may, but it has to be appropriate for the workplace.

Residential tenancies

Sen. Burton and the Democrats have added more tenant protections. Landlords are now liable to tenants for $5,000 for renting units that are substandard or in violation of habitability requirements and for failure to make repairs. Rents may not be increased during the period of violation. Landlords are liable for a civil penalty of $2,000 if they use threats, extortion or force to influence the tenant to vacate. No more Guido.

Mobile homes

Mobile-home park owners must provide park residents with a notice that failure to make timely payment of rent or other charges three times or more in a year may result in termination of tenancy. Tenants in mobile homes may be evicted if they are convicted of child molestation, arson, battery or assault with a firearm – committed within the park. I hope so. Fraudulent, malicious or oppressive violations of the Mobilehome Residency Law by mobile-home park owners will cause a penalty of up to $2,000 or punitive damages. And finally, evicted mobile-home owners may sell their mobile homes rather than moving within the 60-day statutory period they have to move. That’s called “sell and run.”


This is the homestead exemption for citizens 65 years of age or older, disabled, or 55 years with a minimal gross annual income increases from $125,000 to $150,000.

Security deposits/receipts

Residential landlords must provide an accounting of any unused security deposit within 21 calendar days after the tenant vacates, and must provide copies of invoices showing hours incurred and materials purchased – as itemized. This is a significant new burden for landlords, applicable if the deduction for repairs and cleaning exceeds $125.

Unsolicited e-mails

We may now sue advertisers for unsolicited e-mail spam and recover automatic damages of $1,000 per unsolicited commercial e-mail, up to $1 million per incident plus attorneys’ fees and costs. I need to look into this one. Hundreds of daily Viagra and penis enhancement e-mails are outrageous. Most don’t even work.

Uninsured motorists

This new bill increases from one year to two years the permitted time for an insured motorist with uninsured motorist insurance coverage to file a suit against an uninsured motorist or to commence arbitration proceedings under his or her uninsured motorist policy. Remember, you have two years if you are injured by someone without insurance.

Mechanic’s liens

This important change in the civil code requires owners on private construction jobs to provide to the general contractor, as well as any subcontractors and suppliers who filed preliminary lien notices, notice of the recordation of a Notice of Completion or Notice of Cessation within 10 days. Failure to do so extends the lien recordation deadline. The law does not apply to occupied personal residences – up to four-plexes. This is a significant but not illogical construction-related burden for owners.

Vessel borrowing

An addition to the penal code makes it a misdemeanor to take any motorboat or vessel without the permission of the owner for the purpose of temporarily using or operating it. Someone must have beaten a charge for theft by claiming they were just “borrowing” someone’s boat. I’ve been there.

Oakland Raiders rule

It is now an infraction at a professional sporting event to throw anything across the court or field or to enter the court or field without permission. The fine is $200. Notice must be posted. This law will probably cause end zone attendance to dwindle at Oakland Raiders’ games.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter — Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno. He is a mediator and was the governor’s appointee to the Bipartisan McPherson Commission and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. He may be reached at or at the firm’s Web site,

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