There is no impact to the County General Fund from the Board of Supervisors adopting the Urgency Ordinance.
REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION
On February 3, 2020, the County proclaimed a local emergency and local health emergency due to COVID-19. Several weeks later, the State and federal government similarly declared a state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic and related health impacts and associated public health orders, including but not limited to shelter in place orders, will have a significant impact on local businesses and may cause significant unemployment. As a result, some residents and businesses may experience a severe loss of income needed to pay rent, in turn creating a risk of eviction by landlords.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Santa Clara County was already experiencing a humanitarian crisis of homelessness and a housing affordability crisis, which is driving homelessness and displacement of residents. Many of the County’s renters are rent-burdened, paying over 30 percent of their income on rent, and some renters are severely rent-burdened, paying over 50 percent of their income on rent, which leaves limited money for families to spend on other necessities like food, healthcare, transportation, and education. Substantial numbers of evictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will further exacerbate the County’s significant homelessness problem and, given the need for people to shelter-in-place, constitutes an especially immediate threat to the public health safety and welfare. Substantial numbers of evictions of commercial tenants can also exacerbate the negative impact on the local economy.
On March 16, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-28-20, which suspends state law that would otherwise preempt or restrict local jurisdictions’ authority to suspend the evictions of tenants for the non-payment of rent if the non-payment is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this Urgency Ordinance establishing a temporary moratorium on tenant evictions is to effectuate the Governor’s Executive Order in Santa Clara County by providing stability during the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing avoidable homelessness, and maintaining the public health. The temporary moratorium on residential and commercial tenant evictions will protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Santa Clara County.
It is important to note that nothing in this Urgency Ordinance relieves a tenant of the obligation to pay rent or restricts a landlord’s ability to recover rent due. The measure does, however, prevent evictions from occurring in the midst of this crisis. The proposed ordinance is modeled off of similar measures adopted by San Francisco, San José, and the County of Santa Cruz.
The Urgency Ordinance will provide protections to tenants throughout Santa Clara County, including in cities by using the emergency authority granted by the Governor, as well as Government Code section 8634. However, where a city in the county enacts an ordinance or regulation that is more protective of tenants, the city ordinance or regulation will apply. The Urgency Ordinance will expire on May 31, 2020 unless shortened or extended by the Board of Supervisors based on the continued existence of a local emergency.
The recommended action would have a positive impact on children and youth who are sheltered in place due to school closures and are at increased risk from COVID-19 because it would mean that families would not be evicted during the COVID-19 emergency.
The recommended action would have a positive impact on seniors as members of the population at increased risk from COVID-19 because it would mean that seniors would not be evicted during the COVID-19 emergency.
The recommended action protects the economically and medically vulnerable, promotes public health and safety, and protects public health resources in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CONSEQUENCES OF NEGATIVE ACTION
Vulnerable populations and County residents at large suffering significant income loss as a result of the COVID-19 crisis will have fewer protections from the devastating economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak and may be evicted, which may lead to adverse public health consequences.
STEPS FOLLOWING APPROVAL
The Clerk of the Board shall expedite the execution of the ordinance to have it ready by Wednesday, March 25, and shall work with the public information team in the Emergency Operations Center to widely publicize the ordinance.