Anaheim Eviction “Moratorium” – ACT NOW if COVID is endangering your APRIL RENT!


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Update Tuesday night

As predicted the moratorium passed unanimously after an hour or so of debate.  Mayor Sidhu began with adding 30 more days to the repayment period, so renters will now have not 90 but 120 days to repay their delinquent rent when this crisis is over or this ordinance dies.  Jose tried unsuccessfully to get that up to six months. 

Jose did manage to extend the end date of this moratorium from the ridiculously-soon April 30 to May 31, and to include “sub-letters” in the moratorium – both with no objection on the dais.  Denise managed to get Harry to admit that the ordinance was written in consultation with the apartment owners industry, with no input from tenants.  Actually it turns out our ordinance was based on the City of Sacramento’s ordinance, also written in consultation with landlords.

So in short, Anaheim renters, pay attention – if the COVID crisis is making it impossible or difficult to pay your April rent, it’s TIME NOW to let your landlord know, provide some documentation of your hardship, and figure out if there’s some LESSER AMOUNT you can pay for now!  And remember, when the crisis is over in the summer or fall, you’ll have FOUR MONTHS to pay off what you didn’t pay in the spring.  Good luck!

Update Tue. morning – CONCERNS

 This ordinance, driven by the office of Mayor Sidhu and blessed by the Apartment Industry, merits closer scrutiny – some dispute that it IS actually “better than nothing” and may end up FACILITATING evictions.  A few concerns that must be brought up in comments to be sent to publiccomment@anaheim.net , by 5pm today:

  • Before a tenant can take advantage of this moratorium, Section 2(D) of the ordinance makes residents (1) present a notice to their landlord that they cannot pay, (2) present verifiable documents, and (3) pay what they can.  Those three requirements mean this isn’t a moratorium at all. In fact, they weaken pre-existing rules.  This thing is deliberately crafted to hurt poor people.
  • Section 2-D-1: Notice? You’re just inviting the landlord to evict for a nonpayment pretext. Landlords are smart: they’ll figure out how, and 90% of the time, a tenant won’t know how to stop them until too late. Even if Anaheim gives people sample notice forms in 5 different languages (as is being discussed), most people won’t even know to go find the notice until way too late – it’s not like 90% of Anaheimers follow our city council so closely.
  • Section 2-D-2: Documented income? For stores, this isn’t a problem: they account for this when bookkeeping anyway. But many people don’t earn a weekly paycheck with paystubs and proof. Anyone earning tips, undocumented income, etc. – that is, huge swaths of our population. Especially our undocumented residents. There are a host of other issues here.
  • Section 2-D-3: Partial payment?  Sounds like a fair compromise.  In practice, ‘pay what they can’ will be subject to negotiations, but one party tends to have a lot more power over the outcome of those negotiations – and if the landlord determines the tenant cannot pay ‘enough’, the landlord wins & evicts.  (There may be some protection for Sect 8/Housing Choice Vouchers, since payment capabilities are tested for those recipients – but the effect is to hurt anyone else.)   “Pay what you can” will backfire unless the tenant defines what they can pay. If there’s any doubt, landlords will do so (or judges, which in practice means landlords – because when it reaches the judge, 9 times in 10, the tenant will be in trouble).
  • Section 5:  We should change the 90-day post-crisis repayment plan to 6 months, as Santa Ana and Los Angeles have done – 90 days will be too tough for many renters to pay back their late rent, and could result in more evictions later this year.
  • A Vern idea, perhaps naive:  Could the City Attorney assign a small team of other city attorneys (we have a bunch) to be in charge of mediating expected disputes between tenants and landlords, over the coming months, pursuant to this ordinance?

Original Story 3-23

I imagine you’ve noticed by now, but just in case you haven’t – we are currently living through what the Chinese call “interesting times.”  While Anaheim renters (55% of residents, about half of whom were already “rent-burdened” – that is, paying more than 1/3 of their income on rent) are stuck at home laid-off from work or caring for home-bound children on account of the pandemic, the Anaheim Council (which to date has refused to even discuss rent-control or eviction protection) will be voting tomorrow on an Emergency Eviction Moratorium.

My first thought was “This must be a Jose Moreno ordinance” – after all he was the only councilmember at last week’s Emergency Coronavirus Meeting to suggest such a thing – and “Does he really expect to get any votes for this urgency bill (which should need six votes) besides Denise Barnes and MAYBE Jordan Brandman?”

“How the hell,” I thought to myself, “does he expect to get the votes of Mayor Sidhu, Stephen Faessel, Trevor O’Neil or Lucille Kring?”

But these are interesting times, and it turns out the ordinance was actually drafted by the City Manager at the direction of the Mayor’s office, with no notice to or input from the hated Moreno even though he was the first to suggest it publicly.  And it will probably pass unanimously tomorrow, hopefully with a few changes.

You can read the ordinance here.  Renters who can prove through documentation somehow that they are unable to pay their April rent (the ordinance expires April 30 with the option to extend) can not be evicted.  They are expected to pay WHATEVER THEY CAN (how that would be determined remains a big mystery.)  And when this ordinance expires or this emergency are over, they will have NINETY DAYS to pay off their back rent in installments.

Los Angeles and Santa Ana recently passed similar ordinances, but gave the renters SIX MONTHS to pay off the back rent.  Given that, even in less interesting times when folks have their jobs, so many of them were already “rent-burdened,” 90 days seems pretty tough to be paying off, say, your late April and May rent while still paying your June, July and August rent.  Maybe our bill could be extended to six months. 

The ordinance also suggests some federal relief could be forthcoming through an expansion of Trevor O’Neil’s pathetic “Senior Safety Net.”  That would certainly be an acceleration from zero to sixty for a band-aid program designed to help no more than ONE HUNDRED NEEDY ANAHEIM SENIORS for three months each.

We’ve got other concerns about the ordinance as written, but it’ll probably pass tomorrow and it’ll be better than nothing.  Meanwhile you can send in your comments to council at publiccomment@anaheim.net, and (I think) Clerk Theresa Bass will then read them out loud at Tuesday night’s 5 pm meeting which you can view HERE.

And Jose, for a year or so, has conducted pre-meeting briefings the day (Monday) before each meeting, at 6pm.  TODAY at 5, his briefing will be held on Facebook Live, and you can comment or ask questions by FB comment.  See you all there.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.