By Sandra G. Leon
The San Diego City Council voted on Tuesday to extend a citywide hold on evictions that was set to expire on June 30th and will give renters more relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council had previously put in place a moratorium on evictions through June 30th and the extension will now protect both residential and business renters through the end of September. Landlords are not allowed to evict renters for non-payment of rent during the moratorium.
Councilmembers Chris Ward, Vivian Moreno, Jen Campbell, Monica Montgomery, and Council President Georgette Gomez voted in favor of the extension. Councilmembers Barbara Bry, Scott Sherman, Mark Kersey, and Chris Cate voted against it.
“We need to ensure that residents have some security and know that they’re not going to lose the roof over their heads while we continue to battle this pandemic,” Councilwoman Moreno said. Moreno represents the 8th District which included the communities of San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Nestor, Barrio Logan, and Logan Heights.
Members that voted against the protections worried that landlords would be unable to pay mortgages or maintain their properties if they don’t receive rents and are not allowed to replace tenants.
“I understand and sympathize with the challenges many of our residents are facing,” Councilwoman Bry said. “But today we are being asked to vote to extend an eviction ordinance that doesn’t really solve the problem.” Bry is a candidate for San Diego Mayor in the November election. Bry represents the communities of La Jolla, Carmel Valley, University City, and Torrey Pines.
The moratorium on rent payments only allows tenants to delay paying their rents but does not excuse the payments so tenants will still owe back rent when the temporary hold is eventually removed.
On the same day, the Council voted to create a relief fund for low-income tenants who cannot afford to pay rent. The City will use $15.1 million in federal CARES Act funding it received to make the approved payments directly to landlords on behalf of struggling tenants. The program is expected to start in August.