As thousands of people deal with a loss of wages related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is weighing a measure that could provide them with some breathing room.
At its March 24 meeting, the board will vote on an urgency ordinance that would temporarily prohibit any evictions involving people who have lost income or taken on substantial medical expenses because of COVID-19. To take effect, the ordinance requires the approval of four out of five supervisors.
FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
ON HOLD The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is looking at an eviction moratorium ordinance to prevent those who can't pay rent because of the coronavirus from being kicked out of their homes.
The item was placed on the board’s agenda for its March 24 meeting at the request of 1st District Supervisor Das Williams and 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart, according to a news release from their offices.
“We must avoid the creation of a great public health emergency that would result from subjecting families to homelessness,” Hart and Williams said in the release. “It is imperative we do everything possible to make sure people are safe and secure in their homes and that we prevent eviction.”
According to a staff report for the item, under this ordinance, tenants would still be required to pay rent and landlords would still maintain the ability to recover rent that’s due to them in the future. But this measure would prevent landlords from evicting tenants during the pandemic.
The ordinance would remain in effect until the end of May or until the county terminates its local health emergency proclamation, which was announced on March 12. As of March 23, 18 people in the county had tested positive for COVID-19, while 229 people have tested negative and 245 results are pending.
The vote on this ordinance comes about a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on March 16 that made it easier for local governments to pass these types of eviction moratoriums.
“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their homes because of the spread of COVID-19,” Newsom said in a news release. “Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices, but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them.”
The board’s meeting begins at 9 a.m. and can be watched on the county’s YouTube page
, on its website
, or on local cable. Because of Newsom’s statewide “stay at home” order, in-person participation is not allowed. For an update on the story, pick up a copy of the Santa Maria Sun
on March 26, or visit santamariasun.com. ∆