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Community members call for action following repeal of emergency orders suspending foreclosure, eviction

Posted at 11:25 AM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 18:36:50-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County Board of Supervisors was called upon to take action by the community after the Judicial Council repealing of emergency orders suspending foreclosure and unlawful detainer actions in California’s courts.

During the board's meeting Tuesday morning, it was met with public comments regarding the moratorium, which is set to be lifted on Sept. 1. This leaves lawmakers just a few weeks to enact legal protections to avert an impending flood of evictions for unpaid rent.

"The City of Arvin is looking to adopting its own [eviction moratorium]. The City of Delano has already adopted it," said Arvin Mayor Jose Gurrola. "However, if the county takes a blanket, county-wide approach, many more people would be protected."

Board Chairwoman Leticia Perez passed the issue onto Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop, who discussed the options the county has in regards to an eviction moratorium. Alsop said there are options for the board to consider, but putting together a formal set of recommendations could take the county more time than it has.

"Our goal is to provide the smartest, most efficacious recommendation that we can on this item and I think we would be challenged to do that between now and Thursday," Alsop said.

The county has only one scheduled meeting before the moratorium deadline on Sept. 1, then a meeting scheduled for that same day. The next upcoming meeting is a budget hearing scheduled for Aug. 25, however, the agenda for that hearing has already been drafted with the deadline to submit items closing last Friday.

"But we certainly could do that, it would just be better for our office on Sept. 1," Alsop said. “And the state should have something done by then so there should be some clarity on moratoriums and the state prior to Sept. 1."

Supervisor Mike Maggard and Chairwoman Perez agreeing that it would be moot for the board to discuss options for the moratorium on the same day the moritorium ends.

Chairwoman Perez recognizing that the board could possibly decide not to do anything, but with an issue that is drawing so much reaction from the community, the board must discuss it before Sept. 1. Alsop responded saying that the county will then bring back some kind of recommendation to the board on Aug. 25.

Alsop said one option the county could review include providing flexibilities to individual cities to enact their own eviction moratoriums or provide CARES Act funds to cities to implement their own rental assistance programs.

Another option the county could look at is using CARES Act funds to team up with the City of Bakersfield and the Housing Authority of Kern to provide housing and rental assistance. The county could consider matching the City's allocation of funds to subsidize rent for people financially affected by COVID-19.

The agenda for the Aug. 25 budget hearing is set to be finalized on Friday. The county has until Thursday to add its recommendation.