‘The best place to be’: CA eviction moratorium expires, Berkeley’s remains

staff of an apartment complex
Gisselle Medina /Staff
California's eviction moratorium will come to an end Sept. 30. However, separate moratoriums ordained by the city and Alameda County will continue to protect tenants living in Berkeley.

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Despite the statewide eviction moratorium coming to an end Sept. 30, Berkeley tenants will remain protected by a separate moratorium imposed by the city.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, financial instability continues to be a struggle afflicting many communities, the official California housing website notes. California’s eviction moratorium was a state ordinance implemented by CA Gov. Gavin Newsom, protecting tenants from eviction due to nonpayment of rent.

As the state moratorium expires, Leah Simon-Weisberg, chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, noted there are respective communities that still have locally imposed moratoriums, with Berkeley being one of them.

“While California’s state issued eviction moratorium ends after September 30th, tenants in Berkeley will remain protected,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín in an email. “This is because we have passed a separate eviction moratorium for the City of Berkeley that is directly tied to our local state of emergency.”

Berkeley’s eviction moratorium was the first to pass in California, Simon-Weisberg said. She noted the moratorium remains “very strong” and will only end when the city declares that the state of emergency is over. Alongside the city ordinance, Alameda County has also imposed a moratorium.

Citywide moratoriums have been enacted before, Simon-Weisberg noted. Parts of the state have had to pass such ordinances following wildfires. She added there has to be some form of pressing circumstance in order for a moratorium to be imposed.

According to Igor Tregub, a committee member of Berkeley Tenants Union, former president Donald Trump’s lack of action at the beginning of the pandemic pushed local communities to make their own ordinances.

“Because the federal government failed to intervene in any meaningful way, it became up to individual state and local jurisdictions to create a patchwork of local, county and state ordinances to promulgate eviction moratorium,” Tregub said.

While Berkeley tenants remain protected by city and county ordinances, other communities in California may not be in the same situation, Tregub said.

Simon-Weisberg noted UC Berkeley students who live within the bounds of Alameda County will continue to be protected. However, the same cannot be said for those who are commuting from Contra Costa County, their moratorium having not been extended.

“We’re happy to let (Berkeley tenants) know that they are still protected by the ordinance,” Tregub said. “That being said, an affront to one is an injustice to all. There are going to be millions of tenants that will be harmed if this eviction moratorium is allowed to expire.”

Andy Kelley, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner, said those who are experiencing housing insecurity have a range of programs they can access through the state and city.

Kelley added these individuals can contact Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board in order to find these resources.

“If you’re a tenant, the best place to be right now is Alameda County,” Simon-Weisberg said.

Contact Kelly Suth at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @kellyannesuth.