(Photo courtesy of realtor.com)

On Tuesday, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved extending a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions until Sept. 30.

The moratorium intends to alleviate some of the income loss and out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic until the state can come up with a solution.

“We need to take some action, I believe today, to protect our tenants affected by COVID-19 until there is more clarity from the state as a whole,” said Supervisor Bruce McPherson, who co-authored the resolution.

“We encourage renters to work with landlords and vice versa on terms of repayment. So, I am very, very hopeful that a state solution is coming in the next two weeks … So, I think this is a valid way to temporarily address this issue,” he said.

McPherson was referring to California Senate Bill 1410 that, if passed, would cover at least 80 percent of unpaid rent attributable to COVID-19 for qualifying tenants and landlords for seven months.

The board will also come back in mid-September to discuss implementing a six- or 12-month repayment program of their own, similar to that of Santa Clara County.

“I think the concern as we can all know, is that even at the end of the moratorium, you end up with a balloon payment that makes it pretty infeasible for people,” Supervisor Zach Friend said.

However, the board will make any decisions regarding rent assistance after the state has voted on SB 1410, as to not conflict in relief efforts.

Some members of the public disagreed with the decision to extend the eviction moratorium, saying it only delayed the problem and negatively impacted landlords who also rely on it as a form of income.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said despite state and county moratorium on evictions, his office has had to enforce some evictions because of court orders.

“When the state issued a moratorium on evictions there was a carve out for public safety emergencies and so local courts are having ex parte hearings and are granting orders based on public safety emergencies,” Hart said.

“The court started growing impatient with us on not doing evictions on these public safety issues in late June … I was told I had to follow the law and evict people under this public safety emergency.”

Since late July, local courts have ordered several evictions.

“I do not like it. I think it shows a disconnect between our court system and the community. But at the end of the day as the chief law enforcement officer of the county, I do have to follow the court’s orders and so that is occurring and will continue to occur as long as that language still exists,” Hart said.