Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams. | Credit: Paul Wellman

Santa Barbara County is extending its temporary prohibition on residential evictions in an effort to avoid mass evictions and homelessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Brought forward by 1st District Supervisor Das Williams and 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart, the board’s vote extends the county’s March 24 Urgency Ordinance that was initially set to expire on May 31. The ordinance is still contingent on Governor Gavin Newsom extending his Executive Order N-20-28, which allows cities and counties the power to set eviction protection ordinances. If Newsom does not extend his order, the county’s ordinance will expire with it.

The governor also passed a separate statewide eviction moratorium, Executive Order N-37-20, which if extended instead of N-20-28 would automatically protect Santa Barbara County residents from being evicted due to pandemic-related income loss or medical bills. 

Darcel Elliott, chief of staff for Williams who presented the rundown on eviction protection options, said that the worst-case scenario is what is out of their control: The governor may not extend either executive order, stripping away any protection from Santa Barbara County residents and any of the Board of Supervisors’ power to intervene.

“If the governor extends neither N-20-28 nor N-37-20, then the only thing that will still be in place is the judicial council rule, which does not prohibit evictions, and there will likely be a large number of people getting evicted 90 days after Newsom lifts the emergency order,” Elliott said.

The board narrowly passed the ordinance extension with a 4-1 vote, the bare minimum required. 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam, who in recent weeks has voiced his opposition to the governor’s plan for reopening the economy as well as the stay-at-home order, voted against the eviction protections 

“I did support this last time, but now I think the stay-at-home order is unreasonable and reopening is being executed too slow,” Adam said. “I’m not going to be able to support it at this time.”

Elliott and 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino emphasized that the ordinance does not say rent payments will be forgiven, but that tenants may need additional time to build income back from pandemic-related losses before they can pay back their landlords. 

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