By Alaina Fox
Given COVID-19 and the quarantine’s impacts on employment, San Francisco Mayor London Breed temporarily halted evictions related to the pandemic on Mar. 13.
The moratorium on such evictions follows Mayor Breed’s declaration of a local emergency on Feb. 25, which granted her the authority to issue the order. If San Francisco repeals the local emergency condition, the city will lift the ban. The enactment will apply for 30 days. After that point, Mayor Breed will have two options; she may increase the moratorium’s duration by an additional 30 days through an executive order, or she may allow it to expire.
Across the country, cities have implemented similar orders to mitigate the potential surge in homelessness that the virus could cause. From Los Angeles to New York City, leaders recognize that the imposition of self-quarantine makes paying rent a challenge for many tenants. Some locations have extended this to business owners who may struggle to pay rent due to decreased sales. While people will have to pay the missed rent eventually, this solution offers temporary relief for citizens dealing with the economic fallout of the coronavirus’s spread.
However, some people argue that the San Francisco eviction moratorium does too little to protect all citizens from COVID-19. Despite the state-wide order for a shelter in place, the moratorium only extends to evictions “due to a loss of income… caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Some residents criticized this selectivity, contending that allowing evictions for any reason needlessly endangers people by preventing them from self-quarantining and requiring them to attempt to locate a shelter. County Supervisor Dean Preston told Mission Local News, “it’s amazing we have to legislate this… It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is not an ideal time to displace someone from their home.” On social media, Preston has advocated for broader suspensions of evictions and foreclosures and posted frequent community updates.
On Mar. 18, Preston applauded Sheriff Paul Miyamoto for his agreement “not to carry out evictions during this crisis.” Although courts continue to operate, Miyamoto elected not to enforce previously scheduled or future evictions because of the threat to tenants’ and officers’ health.
As information develops each day and leaders respond accordingly, residents in San Francisco and throughout California can expect changes to eviction policies reflecting the prioritization of citizens’ safety.
(Sources: CBS, Mission Local, SF Examiner, SF Mayor)