A countywide moratorium on evictions triggered by the pandemic and enacted in late April was backdated to Mar. 24, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors decided on Tuesday. During the same meeting, county supervisors also extended the same moratorium, set to expire on July 20, to Aug. 13.
The decision to backdate the start of the countywide moratorium by roughly one month had been strongly encouraged by tenants’ activists across the county for weeks.
The move was supported by a majority of the board, but included abstentions by Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Nate Miley.
County counsel had raised significant questions for weeks about retroactively changing the start of the ordinance from its originally passage on April 21 to March 24, amid confusion over the county’s pair of somewhat different moratoriums on evictions approved during the pandemic.
On March 24, the Board of Supervisors approved a moratorium on evictions for residents in the unincorporated areas who could provide documentations that covid-19 had affected their ability to pay rent. But on April 21, the board returned to approve a more broad countywide moratorium on rents that prohibited evictions of all types.
County counsel explained that backdating the start the date for the April 21 moratorium could be challenged in court because its expands the ordinance to include a right that did not exist in March.
While aware of the potential legal risks of the retroactive change, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan motioned for its approval.
Meanwhile, the moratorium on evictions was also extended to Aug. 13 to avoid a potential gap in renters protections if the board had extended the urgency ordinance past July 20.
Since ordinances typical become effective 30 days after a second reading of the legislation, which in this case would have occurred on July 14, there would have been a nearly one-month window for evictions to occur.