The Arcata City Council on Wednesday night voted unanimously to extend the city’s moratorium on evictions of tenants who can’t pay their rent due to the COVID-19 emergency. Originally set to expire at the end of May, the moratorium will now expire July 31.
The urgency ordinance offers protection to commercial tenants, residential tenants and mobile home owners who are unable to pay rent due to an increase in medical expenses, a job loss or reduction in hours or a significant impact to their business due to the COVID-19 response. The ordinance also protects parents who are unable to work because they need to stay home with children.
The council also amended the ordinance to include a waiver on late fees for the deferred rent. Tenants must notify the landlord of an inability to pay at least one day before the rent is due and provide supporting documentation within seven days of notification. Tenants are allowed a 90-day window for repayment after the ordinance expires.
The council also unanimously approved the full text of a ballot measure to increase the city’s cap on affordable housing.
Arcata Community Services Director David Loya explained that Article 34 of the California Constitution requires voters to approve grant-funded or government-funded housing. Arcata approved measure L in 1992, setting the city’s limit on affordable housing units at five percent of the total housing stock. The city now has about 20 units left on that limitation, Loya said to the council.
The measure, which will likely appear on the November ballot, asks Arcata’s voters to approve increasing the city’s affordable housing cap to 7.5 percent. The reason for the 2.5 increase, Loya explained, is that a relatively low increase may be more likely to be passed by the voters.
The council agreed and decided to keep the amount at 7.5 percent “It is reasonably and will allow additional affordable housing to be built in Arcata, which we definitely need,” Mayor Michael Winkler said.
Loya mentioned that a statewide measure to remove Article 34 from the state constitution entirely will also likely be on the November ballot. If that measure passes, then the city’s ballot measure would be moot, he said.