By Carolyn Wooddall / Solvang Journal Writer
Many cities across the state halt or prepare to stop residential and commercial evictions to help tenants impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, rather than it doing himself, threw the ball into the local governments’ courts. Since Gov. Newsom’s order was optional, it allows cities and counties to impose their own eviction bans; only if they choose to do so. Banning eviction would allow renters unable to pay their rent as a result of the loss of work or having their business closed down.
Last week, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara City, and other cities either passed or are planning to pass some sort of temporary moratorium on evictions for commercial tenants, either because their business has been slowed down or ordered to close to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But still, many other cities – including Solvang resident tenants – remain subject to eviction because there was no statewide eviction ban. The Governer’s order is only asking cities and counties to take local action to protect their own city resident tenants.
Governor Newsom’s optional order is “creating chaos and stress,” says Leah Simon-Weisberg, legal director for the California Alliance for Community Empowerment, a leading tenant-rights organization. She said, “it could make residential tenants homeless and spread the virus and lose the business for the commercial tenants.” She urged the Governor to declare a statewide moratorium to ban tenant eviction, rather than leaving it to the counties and cities as an option.
The Trump administration took action to protect homeowners and landlords to prevent having foreclosure-related evictions among some homeowners, but it would not apply to the vast majority of renters. The order also pushes banks and other lenders to hold off foreclosing on residential and commercial properties, a practice that would provide relief to landlords unable to pay their mortgages due to poor rent collections.
President Trump’s and Gov. Newson’s orders will be in effect through the end of May and could be extended. It doesn’t mean renters won’t have to pay rent, but it could mean delayed payments for some.
Fourteen California cities and counties have either issued a ban on evicting renters facing economic hardships due to the novel coronavirus outbreak or are considering doing so, according to the California Apartment Association (CAA).
Los Angeles, Culver City, and San Francisco city councils have adopted orders already by forbidding the eviction of tenants who can’t pay their rent due to COVID-19, CAA reported. But so far neither Santa Barbara County nor the City of Solvang banned the tenant eviction. During the last Special Solvang City Council meeting, Solvang landlords asked not to evict any tenants.
City Council Member Chris Djernaes said “Solvang City Council and City administration is working closely to create a program with Federal and State and to private economic relief to both tenants and their landlords. The goal is the create a prevent evictions as a result of State and County mandated closure of all businesses. The council is working with private, state and federal agencies to find equitable solutions to help businesses survive and recover from this historic economic shock”.
Solvang Retailers Association President Kenny Lama said “many of our members are paying rent for their businesses and most of them are closed. So we hope that Solvang City Council issues an order to ban tenant eviction, including commercial and residential only for this difficult time. Otherwise many people might become homeless and lose their businesses. Solvang tenants, please send your messages to the city council members to take necessary action and to ban tenant eviction.”