ESCONDIDO — The Escondido City Council met on Aug. 12 to extend the moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for the third time to Sept. 30, 2020, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The eviction moratorium, which expired on July 31, was originally adopted by City Council on April 8 and was extended on May 20 and again on June 24.
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, but has not extended it further.
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.
During the meeting, Councilman Michael Morasco pointed out the financial hardships being faced by not only tenants, but landlords as well.
In response, Councilwoman Olga Diaz suggested they consider using a portion of the city’s share of the federal CARES Act funds to help landlords who may be financially impacted due to tenants who can’t pay rent.
“There’s got to be a more equitable protection of a ‘small business owner’ who happens to be a landlord than we’ve currently built in,” Diaz said. “I’ve heard a few residents express concern about being dependent on the revenue from their rental properties for their own living expenses, so if we continue to push off evictions. … I feel like we’re causing a different harm in a different area.”
The council also heard a report from Escondido Police Chief Ed Varso on the type of police officer sought by the Escondido Police Department, as well as an overview of the training of police officers.
Varso detailed the department’s hiring standards, its transparency efforts and its training programs, which include an emphasis on de-escalation, racial bias, cultural awareness, mental health and the LGBTQ community.
Many public comments, as well as comments by councilwoman Diaz, emphasized a need for stricter hiring standards, for example, requiring a college degree for police officers and requiring that all officers are residents of the community.
Varso said the department is currently in the “draft phase” of a new de-escalation policy and a new duty-to-intervene policy, which is being created with the help of the North San Diego County NAACP.
Finally, the council discussed limits on campaign contributions for mayoral and council candidates and asked staff to draft an ordinance to be considered at a future meeting.