Guest Opinion - The Hidden Aftermath of the Eviction Moratorium: Campaign Money Talks, Even During a Pandemic




The eviction moratorium that the Elk Grove City Council passed last week with much media attention included a loophole inserted by the real estate industry allowing landlords to sidestep the ordinance and evict those renters that are most desperate for assistance. There are no eviction protections for those that are suffering from COVID-19 illness and unable to communicate with their landlord before the rent is due, not even if they make contact one day after the rent is due. The origin of this loophole speaks directly to the nature of Elk Grove politics.

Before we turn to the events of last week, let us first address the obvious: The reason that out-of-town corporations flood Elk Grove politics with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions is that they know elected officials will allow them to influence policy; profits over people.

When the ordinance first came before the Elk Grove City Council on March 18, 2020, it was rejected in a 4 to 1 vote and widely reported as an abandonment of residential renters and small business tenants. Councilmembers Stephanie Nguyen, Darren Suen, Steve Detrick, and Patrick Hume, voted against the ordinance after receiving strong support in their election campaigns from landlords and real estate interests. As an example, Darren Suen alone received over $300,000 in the past five years from development and real estate industry contributors.

As hundreds of Elk Grove residents organized with texts, phone calls, and emails to councilmembers, Mayor Ly called a special council meeting on March 23 to reconsider the ordinance. At that meeting, Suen, Nguyen, Detrick, and Hume were unabashed in their backtracking, voting unanimously in favor of the ordinance they had rejected just a few days prior. It was a victory for community activists but there remains an obvious landlord loophole that puts renters at risk.

The California Apartment Association inserted language into the ordinance stating that renters must notify the landlord “in writing before the day rent is due that the tenant has a covered reason for delayed payment” or else they may be evicted. Since those suffering from COVID-19 may be in the hospital or otherwise unable to provide this notice before the rent is due, I submitted to the Council via email that an exception should be made for those unable to provide notice due to illness. Mayor Ly brought this amendment for consideration but it was rejected by Nguyen, Suen, Detrick, and Hume.

Let’s be clear what this means. Aside from Mayor Ly, our elected representatives support landlords being able to evict renters that are in the hospital due to COVID-19, even if they are just one day late in notifying their landlords that they cannot pay the rent. The Councilmembers did this because they did not have the political courage to amend language given to them by the powerful players from the real estate and development industries.

The voters of Elk Grove will have an opportunity later this year to decide whether Darren Suen should be re-elected but there are three ways we can make our voices heard right now by the entire Council as they prepare for the meeting on April 8th:
  •     Email the City Clerk, Jason Lindgren at jlindgren@elkgrovecity.org and request your comments be read at the next Council Meeting.
  •     Send a video or audio recording to the City Clerk at jlindgren@elkgrovecity.org to be played at the next Council Meeting.
  •     Leave a voicemail for the Council at 916-478-2286 to be played at the next Council Meeting.
In your messages, tell the Council that they must amend the moratorium for those that are ill with the virus and that they should put the welfare of Elk Grove residents ahead of corporate profits.

Due to social distancing, we may not be able to leave our houses to join in a protest but we can make our voices heard with social media. Please share this opinion piece and ask your friends to join the fight.

Amar Shergill
Executive Board Member of the California Democratic Party
Elk Grove Father of Three


Graphic contributed by an Elk Grove resident who asked not to be identified. 










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2 comments

Atticus Finch said...

I am absolutely appalled and shocked that this opinion piece would even remotely suggest that our illustrious elected council officials would ever put their interests above the interests of tax paying Elk Grove residents. Doesn't Shergill realize that our council members intentions are above reproach? It's time that the city council stand up and defend themselves against these pernicious attacks. For one thing, there is no way that council would have permitted such a loophole in the moratorium against evictions. Why you ask? Because that would have required the council actually READ what they vote on and many people know that council doesn't have the time or inclination to actually read much less analyze and digest staff reports.

I say to Shergill, that council is innocent of his charges! Keep up the good work city council.

White Hat said...

How funny, Shergill is the only person to like this pathetic story.

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