April 14, 2020
On Wednesday, Apr. 7 the city of Emeryville held a virtual City Council meeting with a substantial agenda. Arguably the most important item discussed was the city’s three-pronged approach to assist residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and facing pending or even overdue rent payments.
At the meeting, the City Council extended the deadline of the city’s moratorium on evictions, approved a $400,000 grant program to help renters most in need and proposed a 12-month repayment plan.
At the next City Council meeting on Apr. 21, the City Council will vote to approve an amendment to the moratorium to cover all evictions, and not just those related to nonpayment of rent due to hardship caused by COVID-19.
City Council extends eviction moratorium, considers additional measures.
Adopted at the Mar. 19 meeting, the emergency moratorium on residential and commercial evictions became effective immediately. It was passed in parallel with a regular ordinance — identical to the emergency moratorium — that will go into effect on May 7. Given the ongoing state of emergency, the City Council voted to extend the deadline for the moratorium from May 31 to Jun. 30.
City Council also considered strengthening the moratorium to provide stronger protections for tenants during the COVID-19 crisis. At the Apr. 7 meeting, City Councilmember John Bauters proposed an amendment that would expand the scope of the moratorium for residential units. While the original moratorium only covered evictions due to nonpayment of rent, the amendment would protect tenants from all evictions, except evictions that are “necessary to protect health, safety or welfare.”
While local tenant advocacy groups urged City Council to further protections in the city’s moratorium, Emeryville City Attorney Michael Guina cautioned that amending the ordinance to cover all evictions could put the city in legal risk.
“The council had adopted the current urgency ordinance to be in line with [the Governor’s] executive order,” Guina said at the meeting. “That provides us with additional legal protection in case our urgency ordinance is challenged. The ordinance exposes the city to litigation for claims where we will not be able to rely on the executive order and the protections of that.”