Editorials

These 2 Sacramento County supervisors are to blame for more people losing their homes

To a packed house of boos and hisses, Sacramento County Supervisors Sue Frost and Susan Peters voted down a temporary ban on no-fault evictions. It would have lasted nine weeks – at most. Instead, some area residents risk becoming homeless for the holidays.

“I’ve never been so ashamed of this board,” said Supervisor Phil Serna after the vote Tuesday. “That some couldn’t muster the spine to protect renters in the middle of an acute housing and homeless crisis – just for a short amount of time – is unconscionable.”

He left the chambers visibly upset.

The disappointing result demonstrates contempt for constituents on the parts of Frost and Peters. The two need to hear that from people in their northern Sacramento County districts.

Opinion

Serna proposed the eviction moratorium. The intention was to prevent landlords from evicting tenants without reason in the final months of 2019 before new renter protections made it harder to do so.

The state has seen a surge in rental terminations in recent months according to CalMatters, prompting cities like Santa Cruz and Los Angeles to pass similar local ordinances.

Members of Sacramento Tenants Union and residents of Bell Oaks Apartments in Arden Arcade told county supervisors last month that dozens at the complex – roughly 40, we confirmed – were being evicted.

Court documents revealed the motivation.

“Due to impending passage of the rent control bill (AB 1482) to be effective January 1, 2020, time to issue lease termination notices is of the essence,” stated the settlement agreement signed by building buyer Manroop Purewal and current Bell Oaks owner Wayne Russell.

The moratorium would have barred or stalled termination of leases where tenants have not defaulted on rent, violated the lease or broken certain laws. It would have applied to terminations where the deadline for the tenant to vacate had not passed, and ended when the state law went into effect. The law includes a new rent cap and eviction protections.

It was a desperate measure for desperate people. It would have applied to any buildings with residents facing such circumstances in unincorporated parts of the county, with some exceptions.

Frost and Peters killed it after listening to more than an hour of public comment, including many locals speaking in blunt terms of looming homelessness. Neither seemed to comprehend the plight of residents. Or maybe they just didn’t care.

“An innocent property owner who is just selling their property can’t sell their property?” asked Frost, apparently confused about the effect of the eviction moratorium.

Her charge was false, since owners can still sell their buildings. In addition, we don’t think landlords who evict more than 40 tenants out of sheer greed qualify as “innocent property owners.”

Peters said her office had only received “two phone calls to complain about this.”

But the meeting was packed. An elderly man told supervisors he’d end up “back on the river” if he lost his housing. Crestview North resident Ali Oualiken, 45, said “I may become homeless.” He was one of several residents from Peters’ district to speak.

“You can be a homeowner,” said Frost, in what appeared to be a bizarre attempt to comfort people who fear becoming homeless due to evictions..

The crowd responded with an uproar of protest. One clear voice said above the rest, “No I can’t!”

Serna proposed the moratorium as an emergency ordinance so it could go into effect immediately. That means it needed four out of five votes to pass. Under the standard process, in which an ordinance only needs three votes to pass, the rule doesn’t go into effect for at least 30 days – past the vacate date for many at the meeting facing the loss of their home.

Frost is up for reelection in 2020. If she represents you, consider voting for her opponent. Peters doesn’t plan to run for reelection, and hopefully voters in her district will replace her with someone who sides with innocent tenants over greedy landlords.

Frost and Peters also voted down a proposal to hold four evening meetings in 2020. The change would have made it easier for members of the public with day jobs to participate in the board’s decision making, which typically happens in the 9 to 5 window.

Supervisor Patrick Kennedy, who we endorsed in 2018, provided the third vote. By essentially saying he couldn’t bother to work a few evenings as part of his full-time job, he has also shown he does not have constituents’ best interests in mind. He needs to hear about it from voters.

Peters – susanpeters@saccounty.net; 916-874-5471

Frost – supervisorfrost@saccounty.net; 916-874-5491

Kennedy – supervisorsennedy@saccounty.net; 916-874-5481

The California Apartment Association said they convinced the landlord of Bell Oaks to refund security deposits and provide $2,500 in moving assistance to any tenant swept up in the mass eviction. The association learned of the situation from Peters.

That’s better than nothing, but doesn’t help residents of other complexes. Sacramento Tenants Union started a GoFundMe to help evicted residents with moving costs.

Peters and Frost should expect to see more homeless people this winter. Make sure they know they could have done something about it.

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