Countywide moratorium on covid-19 evictions now includes all evictions

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley donning a black mask during Tuesday afternoon's Board of Supervisors meeting in Oakland.

A countywide moratorium on covid-19 evictions approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors last month now covers all types of evictions.

The amended ordinance, unanimously approved on Tuesday afternoon, will remain for the next 90 days. Alameda County renters unable to pay rent during this time will have 12 months to repay landlords.

Alameda County beatRenters, though, can still be evicted in cases of “imminent safety risks,” for example, if black mold is present in an unit. Evictions due to the Ellis Act, and by government order, such as a building fire are not included in the ordinance.

A clause that would have allowed cities to opt-out of the ordinance for any reason was removed by county supervisors on Tuesday afternoon. However, cities like Oakland and Berkeley, where existing moratoriums on evictions are stronger than the county, can opt-out of the county’s amended ordinance.

The ability for local cities to opt-out was not included in the original countywide eviction moratorium approved on Mar. 31. County staff told supervisors the provision was added to Tuesday’s proposed amended ordinance after intense push back from some Alameda County cities.

Several supervisors became concerned on Tuesday after it was suggested that one city, Hayward, may be contemplating a move to opt-out of the county’s ordinance.

Hayward Deputy City Manager Jennifer Ott said its councilmembers had thoroughly vetted all sides of their eviction moratorium over two meetings. “We have fought through all of these issues,” Ott said.

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty took exception to other comments suggesting local cities know their constituents better than county officials. “Quite frankly, we know our communities, too,” Haggerty shot back. “I kind of don’t agree with that. To me, I think you have to clearly prove that your ordinance is more strict in order to not be obligated to the terms of ours.”

Leah Simon-Weisberg, an attorney for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said the board of supervisors, serving as the county safety net, will ultimately bear much of the costs of mounting evictions. In addition, county residents will benefit from a consistent moratorium ordinance rather than a piecemeal approach by local cities. “It’s important that everyone have the same strong protections,” Simon-Weisberg said. Otherwise, an opt-out provision would allow some cities to water down the county’s ordinance, she added.

Although Haggerty later said the amended ordinance amounted in some ways to “governmental overreach,” he nonetheless voted to approve it. After some early trepidation over the impacts of the ordinance on property owners, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said it was reasonable and not overly broad. The rationale for ultimately supporting the ordinance, both supervisors said, was its temporary nature and ability help struggling renters in the county to stay in their homes.

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