The Marin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to adopt an emergency ordinance barring rent increases in specific census tracts in the county.
The emergency ordinance encompasses census tract 1330 and census tract 1290 because of their disproportionate COVID-19 rates compared to the rest of Marin County due to realities such as overcrowding, according to assistant county administrator Angela Nicholson. The rent freeze would expire on Dec. 31.
Census tract 1330 includes Dillon Beach, Tomales, Marshall, Point Reyes Station, Nicasio and parts of unincorporated Novato. Census tract 1290 is in Marin City.
“In most cases people aren’t raising rents, but in certain designated cases this continues to happen, and people are having a harder and harder time digging themselves out of debt that they are getting into during this pandemic,” Nicholson said.
Over the past year, the average rent increase in Marin has been 1.8 percent and by Oct. 15, 2020, unemployment rates for Marin’s low-income population had surged by 40 percent, according to county data.
During the meeting, the supervisors stressed that while most Marin landlords have not raised rents, a rent increase on the specific communities covered by the emergency ordinance would devastate an already hard-hit group in the county.
Hispanic and Latinx populations, despite making up 16 percent of Marin County’s population, were 54.8 percent of total COVID-19 cases and 29.7 percent of hospitalizations as of Monday, according to Marin Health and Human Services data.
“The impact of the pandemic has exacerbated the housing crisis for historically marginalized communities, and the COVID-19 reminds us of the deep inequities in our county, lack of access to health care and transportation protections in the workplace and housing access,” said Caroline Peattie, executive director of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California during public comment at the meeting.
Supervisor Damon Connolly said the emergency ordinance was a “prophylactic” designed to keep vulnerable residents from potential harm.