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Escondido City Council extends eviction moratorium once again

ESCONDIDO — The Escondido City Council met Wednesday, June 24, to extend the moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for a second time, to July 31, 2020, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The eviction moratorium, which was set to expire on June 30, was originally adopted by City Council on April 8 and was extended on May 20.

The original mandate followed an executive order that was issued in March by Gov. Gavin Newsom creating a statewide eviction moratorium.

On May 29, Newsom extended the statewide order through July 28, 2020.

The city’s urgency ordinance makes it unlawful to evict a residential or commercial tenant in Escondido if the tenant has provided notice to their landlord that they are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19.

Once the moratorium expires, tenants will have up to three months to pay all of the rent owed.

When asked about potential eviction threats by landlords, City Attorney Michael McGuiness said during the council meeting that the statewide mandate criminally prohibits harassing behavior from landlords to tenants, which would also apply to Escondido residents.

The council also approved an amendment to the Mobilehome Rent Review Board Guidelines. The amendment protects the equity in mobile homes by limiting rent increases to 8% when a tenancy ends, up to a $950 limit.

The city has regulated rents for some mobile homes for decades under the Escondido Rent Protection Ordinance (Proposition K). The new amendment implements a vacancy control to restrict the amount a park owner may charge upon turnover of a mobile home space to a new tenant.

The council then approved keeping City Manager Jeffrey Epp on after his July 11 retirement until his replacement is found.

Effective July 12, Epp will resume as a retired annuitant to the vacant position of city manager while assisting with a smooth transition to a new city manager.

The City Council agreed that the search for a new city manager will be conducted in a national open search with the help of a recruitment firm. Council will then interview top candidates and make the ultimate appointment.

The council also heard a status update on the city’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets set forth by the state of California.