FROM THE OFFICE OF DISTRICT 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas, March 27, 2020 and Updated May 19, 2020.
PASSED AND EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY: Oakland adopted California’s strongest emergency eviction moratorium for renters, small businesses and nonprofits. Click here to view this page in Chinese 中文.
Thank you to the thousands of Oaklanders who expressed comments, joined our virtual City Council meeting, and spread the word about the emergency ordinance that I authored. Special thanks to my co-sponsors, Councilmember Dan Kalb and City Attorney Barbara Parker, and the tenants and small businesses who shared their stories. See news coverage in the East Bay Times, Oakland Reporter and Berkeleyside.
My emergency eviction moratorium was passed unanimously in March with protections ending May 31, 2020. It was then EXTENDED in May thanks to continued community advocacy.
What You Need To Know
TENANTS: Until August 31, 2020 or until the Local Emergency is declared over (which happens first), you cannot be evicted if you live in a unit covered by Oakland’s Just Cause Ordinance. You cannot be evicted for rent that became due during the Local Emergency if you suffered a substantial reduction of income or increase of expenses due to COVID-19. Your rent may not be increased beyond 3.5% (the Consumer Price Index or “CPI”; note that beginning July 1, 2020 the CPI will be 2.7%) if your unit is covered by the Rent Adjustment Ordinance. You cannot be charged late fees during this local emergency.
SMALL BUSINESSES + NONPROFITS: Small businesses employ the majority of Oakland workers. This shelter in place has severely impacted our small biz community, forcing many to close their doors permanently while others maintain a fraction of regular operations. The original legislation passed in March ensured commercial / small business tenants with 100 employees or fewer and nonprofits could not be evicted for nonpayment of rent due to a substantial decrease in income caused by COVID through May 31, 2020. My ordinance extends the moratorium on commercial evictions and ties it to the Governor's Executive Order N-33-20 and any extension thereof. On June 30, the Governor issued an executive order authorizing local governments to extend eviction moratoriums through September 30, so our commercial tenants are protected through Sep 30. State law preempts local law on the issue of commercial evictions.
Rent was already unaffordable in the Bay Area before this crisis. Extending this eviction moratorium provides necessary though temporary relief. We need longer-term comprehensive legislation at the state and federal level, and we need financial institutions to step up and act now to provide rent and mortgage relief for both tenants and property owners. See information about state and federal efforts to provide rent and mortgage relief to tenants and property owners.
- Legislation and report for the emergency eviction moratorium
- Information Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions from the City’s Rent Adjustment Program
- For tenant and landlord assistance, City of Oakland Rent Program staff members are available by phone at (510) 238 - 3721 during normal business hours M - F 9:30 am - 4:30 pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please leave a message and a housing counselor will return your call within 24 hours.
- Eviction Moratorium Guide by Protect Oakland Renters for questions & answers and tenant resources
- Keep Oakland Housed provides emergency financial assistance and services to residents at risk of losing their housing.
- Small businesses and nonprofits can email the City’s Business Development Program at email@example.com for assistance.
At its meeting on April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council adopted an emergency court rule that effectively stops all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. This new court rule will apply until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, or until it is amended or repealed by the Judicial Council.
Gov. Newsom announced that more than 200 banks and financial institutions, including Wells Fargo, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bank, agreed to a 90-day grace period for mortgage payments in the state for property owners impacted by COVID-19. This is all a good start and there is much work ahead.
- Property owners can go to the state’s website to learn about 200 banks offering 90-day grace periods for mortgage payments at: covid19.ca.gov.
The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Executive Director determined that energy, water, sewer, and communications companies under CPUC jurisdiction should halt customer disconnections for non-payment as a result of the State of Emergency called by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The CPUC is taking actions to ensure utilities are supporting communities during these challenging times. Here are updates from the major East Bay utility companies.
PG&E has implemented a series of billing and service modifications to support customers who have been impacted by the pandemic:
- Suspending service disconnections for non-payment and waiving security deposits;
- Implementing flexible payment plan options; and
- Providing additional support for low-income and medical baseline customers.
Go to pge.com/covid19consumerprotections to learn more about their programs.
East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD)
EBMUD will not disconnect customers' water service due to billing/payment issues during this health emergency. If your water has been shut off due to non-payment, please call EBMUD Customer Service at 1-866-403-2683 to make arrangements to restore service. In addition, EBMUD's Customer Assistance Program helps reduce bills for customers facing economic hardships. For more information, go to www.ebmud.com/cap.
As of April 1, Oakland residents will begin receiving regularly scheduled invoices from Waste Management of Alameda County for trash, compost and recycling collection services. Many Oaklanders are facing extraordinary challenges right now and we want to remind them that trash collection service will NOT be discontinued for late payment or nonpayment of invoices. Compost and recycling collection services continue to be provided as usual. These invoices remain due and payable under normal terms and conditions, but trash collection service will not be stopped for late or non-payment. For more information go to www.oaklandrecycles.com.
Next Steps to Cancel Rent + Mortgage Payments and Halt Foreclosures
The coronavirus reminds us that we are all interdependent. Our own health depends on the health of the person next to us, and the person next to them. As we shelter in place, I want you to know that I am focused on keeping you safe in your home. Now is the time for us to unite across our differences and make policy choices that help everyday people -- not the wealthiest 1%. Renters, homeowners, mom and pop landlords and small businesses all need relief to make it through this crisis. We must set ourselves and our economy up for a more equitable future. To achieve this, we need immediate debt relief - cancel rent, cancel mortgage payments - and halt foreclosures.
We must call on our state and federal government, banks, and financial institutions to cancel rent for renters and small businesses; cancel mortgage payments; and halt foreclosures. Everyday people should not accumulate even more debt during this crisis. With the passage of my emergency ordinance, Oakland City Council officially called on our government leaders, banks and financial institutions to take this bold action. I also joined Housing Now CA in calling on Gov. Newsom to take action.
Can You Take These Three Actions?
1. Contact Governor Newsom at (916) 445-2841 or by mail or web here and urge him to cancel rent, mortgage payments and halt foreclosures in California.
2. Act with Housing Now's statewide campaign to #HaltForeclosures, #SuspendRent, #SuspendMortgage, and #ForgiveDebt.
3. Act with Right to the City Alliance's nationwide campaign to #CancelRent, #CancelMortgage, and ensure #HomesForAll.
Italy, the UK, France, and Spain have all passed / are in the process of passing measures to immediately forgive rents and mortgages. Cities in the US are starting to call for this too. Let's get to work and make it happen!
See my newsletters for resources and opportunities to support our community, including: contributing to Oakland's COVID-19 Relief Fund, using crowd-sourced guides to help our small businesses, and volunteering with organizations providing critical emergency services.
For information in Spanish, please see Recursos para la comunidad indocumentada en Área de la Bahía durante la pandemia del coronavirus by Azucena Rasilla.