The Elk Grove City Council on March 25 voted, 5-0, to support a proposed, temporary ban on residential and commercial evictions in Elk Grove related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A week earlier, the council voted, 4-1, against the proposal. Their previous vote was made on the premise that while assisting tenants, the moratorium would create an undue burden on landlords.

But after criticism arose from many supporters of the moratorium, the council revisited the issue and decided to reverse their stance.

Through this moratorium, tenants in the city who have experienced a household or business income loss of 20% or more, or those who can demonstrate losses of 20% of their income to medical bills related to COVID-19, are eligible for this protection.

The ordinance is effective immediately and is currently scheduled to end on May 31. That date could be extended, but would require further public hearings to make any changes.

Those utilizing this temporary relief will have 120 days following the conclusion of this urgency order to pay their rent.

Tenants who qualify for this temporary relief are still required to pay at least 50% of the cost of their rent as a show of  “good faith.” They are also required to notify their landlords of their inability to pay their rent in full prior to when their rent is due.

The eviction ban does not cover such instances as non-payments of rents unrelated to COVID-19 or those operating an illegal business on the premises.

The council included an amendment to note that businesses with more than $25 million in gross revenue are excluded from benefiting from the moratorium. The purpose was to better focus on having the moratorium assist “mom and pop”-type businesses.

Also included in the March 25 vote was an exclusion that allows franchisees of large corporations to claim protection through the ordinance.

Council Member Pat Hume commended the revised moratorium.

“This is better legislation this week than we had in front of us last week,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate that some of the comments were characterized in some of the ways it’s been reporting out, that the council somehow voted to not stop evictions.

“Evictions are literally impossible at this point. So, to the fact that we are trying to provide the relief, I think that there’s a good motion on the table.”

Mayor Steve Ly, who was the only member of the council who voted for the moratorium last week, praised the council for their willingness to revisit this issue.

“I’m real proud of this council (for) the fact that you were very supportive in having this special meeting to (agree to revote on this item),” he said. “It says a lot about each and every one of you.”

As part of the meeting, City Clerk Jason Lindgren read written statements and played audio comments from about 20 citizens who urged the council to vote in favor of the moratorium.

A local mother named Kimberly Stewart-Vital, who was concerned about not being able to pay her rent due to COVID-19, submitted one of those comments.

“Demand (the city) put a hold on all payments for rent, lease, or mortgage through the duration of this national crisis,” she wrote.

Stewart-Vital later told the Citizen that she was glad that the council approved the moratorium.

However, she expressed a concern related to the increasing costs of living.

“The decision does not take into consideration the rise in living costs for those taking steps to stay isolated, including having food and other groceries delivered,” she said. “Keeping children home will mean higher use of utilities and higher use of cleaning supplies, etc.”

Stewart-Vital also told the Citizen that she appreciated the council’s support of “family businesses.”

“I do like that all of the council members agreed that residential protections should be no less than the commercial protections, and that our family businesses were the priority when discussions were made regarding commercial lease and rental agreements.”