The Palm Springs City Council Thursday will consider extending the city’s two-week eviction moratorium until June 4 for non-payment of rent due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ban would apply to commercial as well as residential tenants, building on an executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday that protected residential renters statewide through May.
“This situation is unprecedented and the circumstances are changing hourly,” City Attorney Jeff Ballinger wrote in a staff report. “The situation is evolving so rapidly that it is hard to capture the full scale of the business and employment closures.”
The move comes as Californians statewide face economic uncertainty amid the stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, which followed the city’s own shelter-in-place order in place for the past two weeks, shuttering many local businesses and effectively canceled the local tourism season.
Evictions in Palm Springs ordered by state, federal or local government agencies for reasons of “public health or safety, severe public nuisance, or necessitated by the COVID-19 emergency,” would still be allowed.
Council members passed the original ban, which is scheduled to sunset Thursday, on March 19.
Under the ordinance as written, tenants would have 120 days to pay their landlords back rent. In contrast, Cathedral City, which enacted a similar ordinance last week, gives tenants 60 days. Coachella passed its own moratorium last week, as well, which also allows tenants 120 days to pay.
Tenants would also be required to pay “whatever amount of rent the tenant can” based on the individual tenants’ wage losses.
Under the proposed rules, tenants would need to notify their landlords in writing of any lost income due to COVID-19 contributing to their inability to pay rent and must provide proof.
If extended, the Palm Springs ban would provide significantly more beefed-up tenant protections compared to the executive order signed by Newsom on Friday, which temporary halted some residential evictions statewide, drawing the ire of tenants activists and several state lawmakers who said the order didn’t go far enough to protect tenants.
Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said the language in Newsom’s order still allows for landlords to terminate leases and evict a renter who fails to pay after the moratorium is lifted.
“Unfortunately, the new executive order on evictions doesn’t protect renters from eviction,” Wiener tweeted. “Instead, it delays the evictions. It allows landlords to evict renters on paper & then enforce the eviction post-emergency. That isn’t enough.”
In Palm Springs, landlords “cannot take any action toward eviction,” the staff report says, although it is unclear how the ordinance would be enforced in practice.
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