San Diego County leaders are considering placing further limits on evictions during the pandemic and are meeting virtually Tuesday to discuss possibly finalizing an ordinance that would do just that.
The ordinance proposed by San Diego County Board of Supervisor Nora Vargas would only allow evictions in incidents in which there is a health or safety threat to other occupants of the same property. Right now, tenants who can’t afford to pay rent due to pandemic-related financial hardship are protected from evictions through June 30 under state law.
Renters advocates say the state’s eviction moratorium is simply not enough, and say that it has so-called loopholes that has allowed tenants to be evicted anyway during the pandemic. The advocates say landlords use loopholes such as: an owner wanting to move back into a unit, owners wanting take their properties off the rental market and landlords wanting to make major repairs on a unit.
If approved, the proposed ordinance would be in effect until 60 days after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifts all stay- and work-at-home orders.
Those against the ordinance, like Carla Farley, President of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, says eviction restrictions should be eased.
Renters are "already months behind in everything else and so when we get them to a position where we feel its safe only to drop them at the end and say its over, we are setting them up for failure,” said Carla Farley.
She disagrees with more restrictions that prevent landlords from terminating tenants if the landlord wants to move back in, take the property off the rental market, or make repairs.
“I would hope that they take a pause, they see the response and see that people are not saying that people don’t need help. We know people need help, but we know all people need help,” said Farley.
Farley suggests requiring a verification process that would provide proof of limitations tenants are experiencing.
“Ease them, correct, not enhance them is exactly our point because we’re wondering why,” said Farley. “If we look like we’re opening back up in June, then what could we do to bridge the gap where we have owners now suffering?”
The governor announced last month that the state is aiming to fully reopen June 15. That tentative reopening date is dependent on if the state has enough vaccine supply for Californians age 16 and older who want to be vaccinated and if hospitalization rates remain low and stable
The last time Vargas’ proposed ordinance was discussed by county leaders, public comment on the matter took roughly five hours. Property owners, renters and advocates all chimed in to share their perspectives, concerns and experiences in relation to the matter.
Vargas was joined in a press conference Tuesday morning by tenants, landlords and elected officials on the matter. One Imperial Beach mother of two urged local leaders to pass the ordinance to help struggling residents like herself.
"To make sure that children, seniors and families, parents like myself, can live without fear of being homeless, even if it’s for two and a half more months because housing is a human right," Patricia Mendoza said in tears.
Although many landlords object the proposed ordinance, one corporate landlord who said she owns about 200 properties spoke in support of the motion.
“Making money by owning someone’s home, owning their shelter, comes with a responsibility," said Ginger Hicks.
“This moratorium will give a little extra stability and peace of mind to our neighbors who are the last to recover from this pandemic," Hicks continued.
For more information on the County Board of Supervisors’ virtual meeting, click here.