Eviction Moratorium Extended in Santa Clara County

PUBLISHED JUN 11, 2020 12:00 A.M.
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  David Sawyer   CC BY-SA 2.0

As the coronavirus has wreaked havoc over the past few months, public officials have looked for ways to stanch the impacts. One method both state and local lawmakers have relied on in California: Moratoriums on evictions for renters.

On Tuesday, ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom extending a statewide eviction moratorium, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to extend its own, according to county officials and a number of Bay Area news outlets.

A copy of the ordinance, moved by Supervisor Joe Simitian, seconded by Board President Cindy Chavez, and available online, explains that the moratorium delays but doesn’t outright forgive rents.

“Nothing in the Urgency Ordinance relieves a tenant of the obligation to pay rent or restricts a landlord’s ability to recover rent due,” the ordinance reads. “The Ordinance does, however, prevent evictions from occurring in the midst of this crisis.”

KPIX noted that the measure would need an extension of the statewide moratorium that Newsom has authorized.

“We’re asking him to help us prevent more and more people from becoming homeless,” Chavez said, according to a story posted online by the outlet the day before the supervisors took action.

Simitian elaborated on the reasoning for the supervisors’ action during the meeting.

“The goal of the moratorium on evictions is to ensure people can shelter in place, and to provide some measure of certainty and security,” Simitian said, according to Cupertino Today.

The moratorium was welcome news to a number of proponents of a moratorium, such as Law Foundation of Silicon Valley staff attorney Michael Trujillo.

“Santa Clara County has been slower to reopen than many places in the state, and tenants haven’t had a chance to earn an income that will allow them to resume their normal rent payments on June 1,” Trujillo said, according to the Morgan Hill Times.

Not everyone was a fan of the moratorium, such as landlord Amy Harris, who told the board that one of her tenants had stopped paying despite remaining employed.

“He is definitely abusing your ordinance,” Harris said in a written statement to the board.

At the end of the day, though, the board moved forward on an action all members agreed on. They also took their vote two weeks after opting to defer action.

"This is the best way to both signal to the community what our intentions are, I hope, and also to comply with the limitations of the existing order," Supervisor Joe Simitian said at the board’s May 12 meeting, according to NBC Bay Area.

It’s worth noting that the county’s stopping short of forgiving rent, instead giving renters up to 120 days to repay (with the possibility this repayment window will be extended).

“We believe the county doesn’t have the authority to force landlords to forgive rent,” Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith told San Jose Spotlight. “All we can do is give renters the moratorium.”

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