For the second time in a year, the Gilroy City Council rejected a local eviction moratorium, with the majority of members questioning the need for such an ordinance when the county and state are providing protections for renters.
Councilmembers Rebeca Armendariz and Zach Hilton, meanwhile, stressed the need for Gilroy to protect its own and not rely on other jurisdictions.
A motion to approve a local moratorium for residential and commercial tenants failed April 5, with dissenting votes from Mayor Marie Blankley and councilmembers Dion Bracco, Peter Leroe-Munoz, Carol Marques and Fred Tovar.
In April 2020, a split council voted against a similar moratorium, with some members saying having a local eviction moratorium ordinance would be redundant since the county’s and state’s decisions already apply to Gilroy renters.
Since then, the county has extended its moratorium for residential and small business tenants to April 30, while the state has set an end date of June 30.
The moratoriums do not exempt renters from paying rent, but it halts evictions of those who have lost their jobs or wages because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Armendariz, who requested the proposed city ordinance be brought to the council, said that even with the county and state moratoriums, she has been approached by many residents who said they’ve been evicted, either informally or are in the process.
“It felt like we needed a stopgap,” she said. “It felt like we needed to do something for our residents and commercial businesses to let them know they are supported during these vulnerable and unprecedented times.”
Twelve people commented on the ordinance during the public portion of the meeting, with the majority in favor.
Gilroy resident Tina Chavarria said it is “getting harder and harder” to pay rent on a fixed income.
“We need [the moratorium] as citizens,” she said. “What am I going to do if I can’t come up with payment? I’ll end up on the street. Gilroy has to do something to help us.”
Jordan Nunes of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors said the organization is opposed to the ordinance, calling it “unnecessary and harmful.”
“The eviction protections for vulnerable tenants and small businesses have already been implemented at the federal, state and county level,” he said. “Adding another layer of protection is unnecessary and overly burdensome to housing providers and tenants alike that must abide by these regulations.”
Tovar, who brought the eviction moratorium to the council a year ago, said he was “on the fence” this time.
“I’m all in favor of helping tenants, but we also need to look at what we can do to support landlords who may end up losing their buildings because of nonpayment,” he said.
Tovar asked City Attorney Andy Faber if Gilroy could include landlords in the protections. Faber said it would be difficult to prevent foreclosures based on various state laws and contracts.
Bracco pointed to the U.S. Constitution, saying that the government cannot take private property without “just cause and due compensation.”
“When this gets to the Supreme Court, they are going to find that it’s an unfair taking of private properties,” he said. “Local municipalities are going to be on the hook. All we’re going to do is add our name to a defendant’s list.”