Curtis F. Dowling

Partner

Professional Profile

  • Partner, Dowling & Marquez, LLP (since 2012)
  • Partner, Beckman, Marquez & Dowling, LLP, 2005-2011
  • Litigation Associate, Zacks, Utrecht & Leadbetter, P.C. (now Zacks, Freedman & Patterson, P.C.), 2002-2005
  • Litigation Associate, Dillingham & Murphy, LLP, 1999-2002
  • Associate Attorney, Wiegel & Fried, LLP, 1997-1999

 

Education

  • J.D., 1996, University of California, Hastings College of the Law
  • Member & Associate Editor, Hastings Law Journal, 1994-1996
  • Member, Public Law Research Institute (U.C., Hastings), 1996
  • B.A., magna cum laude, 1992, University of Pennsylvania
  • Saint Ignatius College Preparatory, San Francisco, California, 1988, with honors

 

Admissions and Memberships

Admitted to practice law in the State of California, and before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States District Court, Northern District of California

Member of the San Francisco Apartment Association, Professional Property Managers Association, and the Real Estate Section of the State Bar of California. Current Chair of the 2017 Legal/Judicial/Liability Policy Subcommittee, Chair of the 2017 Legal Action Committee, and ex-officio member of the Board of Directors of the California Apartment Association. Currently serving on the Legislative Steering Committee (and a number of its subcommittees) of the California Apartment Association.

 

Legal Experience

Curtis Dowling has substantial litigation experience in a wide variety of real estate cases. He has litigated hundreds of residential and commercial evictions, and rent control exemption cases, in San Francisco County and the greater Bay Area. In addition to his extensive experience in landlord-tenant litigation, he has significant experience representing property owners and managers in contract claims, wrongful eviction and malicious prosecution actions, boundary disputes, quiet title and partition actions, lease breach cases, complex construction defect litigation, tenant habitability cases (including class actions), code enforcement actions, and mechanic’s liens claims, amongst others.

In addition, Mr. Dowling successfully litigated two constitutional lawsuits against the City and County of San Francisco, on behalf of property owners, which resulted in the facial invalidation of two San Francisco ordinances, which restricted the rights of property owners. In one case, O’Hara v. City and County of San Francisco, Mr. Dowling facially invalidated San Francisco’s very first moratorium on owner move-in evictions against certain classes of protected tenants (the precursor to Prop G), in 1998. The trial court invalidated the moratorium as a facial violation of rights secured to property owners by the Due Process Clauses and the Takings Clauses of the United States and California Constitutions. In the other, John Hickey Brokerage Company v. City and County of San Francisco, view PDF Mr. Dowling invalidated San Francisco Planning Code § 209.10 in 1999, a statute which attempted to frustrate, impede, and hinder the withdrawal of rental units under the Ellis Act for owner-occupancy, by attempting to require owners to obtain conditional use permits to owner-occupy their own residential properties when such occupancy was already a principally-permitted use. These two constitutional victories literally paved the way for the City-wide use of the Ellis Act as a means of facilitating owner occupancy, and the creation of the Tenancy-in-Common (‘TIC”) industry in San Francisco as we now know it.

Mr. Dowling is the first lawyer in the history of San Francisco’s rent control system to invalidate any part of its Rent Ordinance in a courtroom.

A substantial part of Mr. Dowling’s practice involves owner move-in evictions, withdrawals of rental properties from the rental housing market under the Ellis Act, buyouts of tenancies, rent increases and exemptions under the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, and writs and appeals.

Mr. Dowling has represented clients in jury and bench trials in state and federal court, and in administrative hearings before administrative agencies (for example, the San Francisco and Oakland Rent Boards). In addition to representing residential landlords and commercial landlords and tenants in many forms of real estate litigation, he has also litigated personal injury, civil rights, securities law, employment law, and business law claims in state and federal court as well. He has also been retained as an expert witness to testify at trials involving landlord-tenant disputes.

Mr. Dowling also primarily handles Dowling & Marquez’ appellate practice, having started his legal career as an appellate and constitutional lawyer. He briefs and argues many kinds of appeals in both the state and federal courts of appeal. In one appeal, Mr. Dowling secured the reversal of a nearly $700,000.00 judgment against his client (a commercial tenant) for damages arising from a broken lease, and an order directing the trial court to instead enter judgment in favor of his client based on claim preclusion, i.e., res judicata (the landlord had secured a prior judgment in small claims court for $5,000.00 for “unpaid rent” after terminating the tenancy for non-payment of rent). view PDF He has secured a number of reversals of trial court rulings and judgments which were adverse to his clients.

Mr. Dowling has developed Dowling & Marquez’ defense practice to include significant work involving California’s anti-SLAPP statute. Over the years and continuing to this day, he has used anti-SLAPP motions to secure the complete or partial dismissal of numerous wrongful eviction lawsuits and claims filed against property owners and managers. view PDF view PDF

As counsel for the San Francisco Apartment Association, Mr. Dowling secured the publication of the Court of Appeal’s landlord-favorable decisions in Birkner v. Lam, 156 Cal.App.4th 275 (2007), Kaufman v. Goldman, 195 Cal.App.4th 734 (2011), and Geraghty v. Shalizi, 8 Cal.App.5th 593 (2017).

Mr. Dowling also assists clients in real estate transactional matters and disputes, as well as the formation of TIC’s.

For 15 years now, Mr. Dowling has been a regular MCLE (mandatory continuing legal education) lecturer in San Francisco and Oakland, teaching lawyers, property managers, and other real estate professionals various aspects of commercial and residential landlord-tenant litigation and practice, especially rent and eviction control systems.  He has also been a contributor to the San Francisco Apartment Association Magazine many times, and regularly teaches courses for the San Francisco Apartment Association.

 

Published Appellate Decisions

  • Securities & Exchange Commission v. Hickey, 322 F.3d 1123 (9th Cir. 2003) (opinion amended at 335 F.3d 834 (9th Cir. 2003)) view PDF
  • Feldman v. 1100 Park Lane Associates, 160 Cal.App.4th 1467 (2008)
  • Danger Panda, LLC v. Launiu, 10 Cal.App.5th 502 (2017)

 

Continuing Education and Other Courses Taught

  • “The Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act” – October 18, 2017 – Alameda County Bar Association – Oakland, California
  • “Ellis Act Evictions Update” – March 16, 2016 – Lorman Educational Services – live webinar
  • “California Landlord and Tenant Law Update” – December 22, 2015 – Lorman Educational Services – live webinar
  • “Landlord and Tenant Law in California” – February 14, 2014 – Lorman Educational Services – San Francisco, California
  • “Landlord-Tenant Law Update” – December 16, 2010 – Sterling Education Services – Oakland, California
  • “Landlord-Tenant Law Update” – June 3, 2010 – Sterling Education Services – Oakland, California
  • “Commercial and Residential Landlord-Tenant Law Update” – May 7, 2009 – Sterling Education Services – San Francisco, California
  • “Landlord and Tenant Law” – April 29, 2008 – Lorman Education Services – San Francisco, California
  • “Landlord-Tenant Law in California” – February 22, 2007 – Sterling Education Services – San Francisco, California
  • “Landlord and Tenant Law in California” – August 23, 2005 – Lorman Education Services – San Francisco, California
  • “Residential Landlord-Tenant Law in California” – December 15, 2004 – Sterling Education Services – San Francisco, California
  • “Commercial Landlord and Tenant Law in California” – June 24, 2004 – Lorman Education Services – San Francisco, California
  • “Commercial and Residential Evictions and How to Collect Overdue Rent” – April 29, 2004 – Sterling Education Services
  • “Commercial and Residential Evictions, and Collecting Overdue Rent” – January 29, 2004 – Sterling Education Services – Oakland, California
  • “Commercial and Residential Evictions in California: How to Do Them Right under the New Rent Control Law: Measure EE” – March 6, 2003 – Sterling Education Services – Oakland, California
  • “Commercial and Residential Evictions in California: How to Do Them Right” – October 3, 2002 – Sterling Education Services – San Francisco, California

 

Other Courses:

Mr. Dowling has regularly taught multi-annual installments of the popular course entitled “Landlord 101 – Property Management for Those Who Own Their Own Property” for the San Francisco Apartment Association (SFAA). He has been teaching the course with his colleague (and friend from their days at St. Ignatius in San Francisco), David Wasserman, since 2007. In addition, he co-created with David Wasserman the equally popular and rather necessary course entitled “Subletting,” on behalf of the SFAA in 2008, and has been teaching it with Mr. Wasserman since that time. The course is an in-depth and nuanced look at arguably the most important and contentious aspect of landlord-tenant relations in rent-controlled housing in San Francisco. He also teaches SFAA’s lease review course with David Wasserman as well.