Score one for the "little" guy, the city of San Francisco.
Late Thursday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation authorizing the city to continue filing unfair competition lawsuits even if its population dips below 750,000. Current law says that only attorneys representing cities with more than 750,000 residents can prosecute UCL suits without the prior OK of a district attorney. San Francisco has taken advantage of that provision for years in going after defendants ranging from slumlords to gun manufacturers.
But in recent years some defense attorneys have started questioning whether S.F.'s population has slipped beneath that magic 750,000 number. The city says no, but its attorneys didn't want to wait for a judge to decide otherwise. They sponsored legislation exempting San Francisco from the 750K rule last year, but the bill got shelved late in the session.
This year they got state Sen. Carol Migden to shepherd the bill and voila!, state law will soon enable the public attorney representing any consolidated city/county in California to file UCL actions. And, of course, San Francisco is the only combo city/county in the state.
The bill's success marks one of the few times Schwarzenegger has bucked his fellow Republicans and business allies and signed legislation enabling lawsuits. In a letter of opposition to SB 376, the Chamber of Commerce said San Francisco "already possesses a history of establishing ordinances and policies that are particularly burdensome to businesses within its jurisdiction."
— Cheryl Miller