A handful of commercial property owners said it was unfair for commercial owners not to collect rent but still be required to pay county property taxes. Supervisors countered that the state and county had said property tax payments could be deferred until May 2021 due to the pandemic.
Even more heated was the discussion of additional protections for residential tenants. Dozens of tenants, some of whom said they lost their jobs due to COVID-19, said abusive landlords tried to intimidate them to the point of moving out.
Homeowners, meanwhile, have described tenants taking advantage, sometimes claiming hardships with COVID-19 even after landing a new job or, in one case, buying a new home.
One woman told supervisors that most landlords already give their tenants some kind of rent relief and they need just as much help as tenants. Another caller said, “We cannot be a well of everlasting charity” to tenants.
Supervisor John Gioia said he wanted to “remove personalities from the discussion” and treat the issue of tenant protection as a matter of protecting public health by not throwing people out on the streets.
But other supervisors were more concerned with not putting too much financial pressure on homeowners.
“I’m tired of accommodating ‘bad actors’,” said supervisor Karen Mitchoff.
Supervisor Diane Burgis said she wanted more community awareness of the county’s rules for landlords and tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supervisors’ September 22 emergency order also brings Contra Costa County law more into line with state laws providing protection against eviction and rising rents.
Assembly Bill 3088, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020, was enacted by Governor Gavin Newsom on August 31 and prohibits illegal detention actions against residents suffering from financial hardship related to COVID- 19 for non-payment of rent and other costs due between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021.
This bill also offers some relief to homeowners, converting rent arrears into “consumer debt” and allowing landlords to continue collecting that money from small claims courts, starting in March.