Anaheim renters will see another month of city protections against evictions by landlords after all, despite the issue failing to pass among council members at a prior meeting.
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The ban, initially set to expire at the end of this month, will remain in effect through June 30, after council members voted to direct interim City Manager Greg Garcia to extend the original order — enacted in March — through his emergency powers.
The vote was 5-2, with council members Lucille Kring and Trevor O’Neil opposed.
For renters who haven’t already agreed on repayment terms with their landlords, the back rent due under the extension will have to be repaid in four equal installments, in monthly intervals, beginning 30 days after the extended order expires.
At the council’s previous meeting, the proposal failed to pass when council members tried to extend the evictions ban with their own emergency ordinance. But because those types of laws require a six-vote council supermajority to pass, the issue died because two of the seven council members, Kring and O’Neil, were also opposed back then.
Voting to direct the city manager to extend the ban through his own emergency authority was something that only needed a simple majority vote on the council — something that could be achieved without Kring’s or O’Neil’s approval.
Supporters on the council like Stephen Faessel and Harry Sidhu said the extension would give more padding to working-class renters in the city, while Kring and O’Neil said it will have adverse effects on landlords who depend on rent to make ends meet or satisfy their other financial obligations like mortgage payments.
Councilman Jose Moreno wanted further measures to extend the rent repayment period for another month, arguing the debt tenants in the city are already accruing will be too much for them to bear. He painted the picture of a “tsunami of evictions” in the event many renters indeed find themselves out of luck when it comes time to start repaying.
He asked Faessel whether that would be something he could include in his motion to approve the evictions ban extension. Faessel declined. Moreno then asked whether Faessel and other council members would be okay with the city manager extending the rent repayment period through his own emergency authority if that wave of evictions happens.
“That’s a decision all of us need to weigh in on,” Faessel said before the vote.
“I don’t see how people are going to recover with four months to pay back rent,” Moreno said during the meeting. He asked City Attorney Robert Fabela whether there would be a chance at some point in the future to amend the emergency ordinance to extend the rent repayment plan.
The council would have that power, Fabela said. But he added that helping out people who at that time were already served eviction notices would be “difficult.”
“I’m not supportive and my position hasn’t changed,” said O’Neil before the vote, adding this extension would “create more problems” for landlords who he said would have their mechanisms to meet mortgage payments and other financial obligations “cut off.”
He also pointed to state unemployment programs and the gradual reopenings of businesses as signs people are already getting economic relief and recovery and could be able to make their payments soon.
Kring said the city is walking into a “legal quagmire” if the governor doesn’t extend his statewide evictions ban order to match the extension Anaheim just gave to renters, later adding “we could see ourselves in a lot of lawsuits.”
She maintained that landlords and tenants have been working together just fine on their own. “As of today, the industry reported 89% of rents are being paid, and that number keeps going on as tenants and landlords figure out payment plans.”
Responding to concerns over landlords in the city depending on rent for income, Garcia pointed to a proposal among state lawmakers — Senate Democrats — for a program that would incentivize landlords through tax credits to forgive the rent of tenants who can’t make the payments because of the coronavirus’ financial impacts on them. In turn, tenants would pay back their rent to the state over 10 years.
Garcia called the proposal “certainly encouraging. We’re certainly tracking it.”
Kring called it “a stretch beyond a stretch.”
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC staff writer and Report for America corps member. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @photherecord.