Santa Cruz County
CA

Agenda Item
DOC-2020-297

Consider resolution and urgency ordinance exercising the County's police power to impose substantive limitations on residential and commercial evictions arising from substantial income loss and out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and direct departments as indicated to return to the Board by April 14, 2020 with a plan for financial assistance for local businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the County's Shelter-In-Place order, as outlined in the memorandum of Supervisor Coonerty and Supervisor Leopold

Information

Department:Board of Supervisors: Third DistrictSponsors:First District Supervisor John Leopold, Third District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty
Category:BOS Third District - Board LetterFunctions:General Government

Board Letter

Recommended Action(s):

1) Adopt resolution to prohibit evictions, through May 31, 2020, of tenants holding residential or commercial property who demonstrate that they have suffered a substantial loss of income or experienced substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the novel coronavirus pandemic or any local, state, or federal actions imposed in response to the pandemic, and order related actions; and

 

2) Add Chapter 8.48 to the Santa Cruz County Code, to prohibit evictions as outlined above, to go into effect immediately as an urgency ordinance; and

 

3) Direct the County’s Economic Development Office, County Administrative Officer and the Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector to return to the Board by April 14 with a plan for financial assistance for local businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the County’s Shelter-In-Place order.

 

 

Executive Summary

The County should enact a moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial properties affected by the coronavirus pandemic. County residents and businesses face extraordinary financial impacts due to the disruption of life caused by the critical public health need arising from the spread of COVID-19. County staff should also develop a program of financial assistance for local businesses to help them survive in this uncertain time of closure.

 

 

Background

The County of Santa Cruz is currently in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in 13 cases of people within the county contracting COVID-19. Due to the highly contagious nature of this virus, the County Public Health Officer declared a local health emergency on March 4, which was ratified and extended for 30 days by the Board of Supervisors on March 10. Also on March 10, the Board of Supervisors separately declared a local state of emergency to last for 60 days unless earlier terminated or extended.  On March 16 the Public Health Officer enacted a Shelter-In-Place order through April 7, restricting the movements of all people in the county to prevent the spread of the virus. The order called for County residents to travel only for essential appointments or essential work.  Many local businesses were asked to close so as to slow the spread of the virus.

 

 

Analysis

The advent of COVID-19 has caused significant changes to the way in which we interact in our community, state and nation. Since its discovery in China in 2019, tens of thousands of people worldwide have contracted COVID-19 and many people have died. At the time of writing of this memo, the United States has over 8700 cases of COVID-19, with 723 in California. To date, thirteen people have died in the state due to COVID-19. In order to slow the spread of the disease, the Public Health Office, in consultation with colleagues around the region ordered a Shelter-In-Place directive, closing bars, breweries, and restaurants to seated service. Residents were asked to stay at home and not go to work if they did not provide an essential service.

 

The impact of this virus and its attendant responses has greatly affected all parts of the County’s economy and way of life. Untold numbers of people are unable to go to work, schools are closed, and the hospitality industry which includes our vibrant food and beverage businesses, our tourism-based businesses, as well as the lodging and recreation industry has been devastated. This severe economic dislocation is felt by all members of the public. For a community already suffering from the high cost of living, the economic impact of this pandemic cannot be overstated.

 

In order to ensure that we don’t add to the numbers of people experiencing homelessness, immediate action is required to help people stay in their homes. Likewise, our local small business community has been greatly impacted by the loss of business and the effect it has on them staying at their current sites. While we wait to see if the state and federal government can provide resources to help local residents and businesses, the County must act to protect people and support businesses from the vicissitudes of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Action to Support Families and Businesses

Following action by Governor Newsom, which granted local governments the power to impose eviction restrictions, we are proposing the creation of an eviction moratorium for local residents and businesses through May 31. This moratorium would provide new tools for residents and businesses to maintain their leases if they are economically impacted by COVID-19. While it doesn’t absolve tenants from paying rent, this moratorium would provide an opportunity for normal business functions to recover so local working families and their employers can stay part of the fabric of our local community.

 

We also think that to the extent where possible, we must identify new aid to help maintain our local business community. While Congress might provide support for some of the largest industries in our country, our county thrives on a broad collection of small business. Creative use of the County treasury to provide resources for local businesses is critical to the ongoing strength of our tax base and the source of employment for many in Santa Cruz County.

 

A copy of the draft resolution is appended hereto as Attachment A and a copy of the draft urgency ordinance is appended as Attachment B.

 

 

 

Body

Strategic Plan Element(s)

This item supports the following County Strategic Plan Elements:

2.d.  Attainable Housing: Expand services to reduce homelessness and increase housing stability.

5.c. Dynamic Economy: Strengthen and retain small businesses and key sectors through innovation, flexibility and technology.

 

 

Meeting History

Mar 24, 2020 9:00 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

1) ADOPTED Resolution No. 51-2020 to prohibit evictions, through May 31, 2020, of tenants holding residential or commercial property who demonstrate that they have suffered a substantial loss of income or experienced substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the novel coronavirus pandemic or any local, state, or federal actions imposed in response to the pandemic, and order related actions; and

2) ADOPTED Ordinance No. 5330 adding Chapter 8.48 to the Santa Cruz County Code, to prohibit evictions as outlined above, to go into effect immediately as an urgency ordinance; and

3) DIRECTED the County’s Economic Development Office, County Administrative Officer and the Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector to return to the Board by April 14, 2020 with a plan for financial assistance for local businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the County’s Shelter-In-Place order

RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:John Leopold, First District Supervisor
SECONDER:Ryan Coonerty, Third District Supervisor
AYES:John Leopold, Zach Friend, Ryan Coonerty, Greg Caput, Bruce McPherson

Discussion