After a one week self-imposed delay 4 Elk Grove City Council members reverse course, tepidly adopt eviction moratorium

One week after they rejected an eviction moratorium meant to assist struggling small businesses and residential renters by a 4 - 1 vote, last night, the Elk Grove City Council reversed course following extensive public pressure and tepidly supported a measure nearly identical to last weeks proposed urgency eviction moratorium. Last night's vote at the special meeting was 5 - 0.

At last week's special meeting Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Detrick and City Councilmember Pat Hume successfully led city council colleagues Stephanie Nguyen and Darren Suen in the effort to reject a staff recommended moratorium on evictions. The measure was proposed after businesses were ordered closed following directives issued by Sacramento County public health officials and California Gov. Gavin Newsom to stop the spread of the COVID19 virus.

As with all recent meetings following Newsom's directive, the session was not open to the public at Elk Grove City Hall and city council members participated via teleconference. The meeting was broadcast live via the city website and the public could offer comments live via telephone and email. 

Following that decision, the four council members, and especially Detrick and Hume, were widely criticized for their vote, which was viewed as pro-landlord and anti-renters, many of whom were the most affected by the work stoppage. At last week's meeting, Detrick and Hume also suggested that workers would feign illness or hardship to receive government benefits and evade paying rent. 

Detrick and Hume did not reveal during last week's meeting while they defended landlords was the fact they were both landlords with property in Elk Grove. While city attorney Jonathan Hobbs opined that they were not in a conflict of interests voting to protect landlords, they were lambasted for concealing the information from the public during their deliberations.

The measure adopted last night will go into effect immediately and requires residential and commercial renters to provide documentation of loss of income or business revenue because of the COVID19 pandemic to qualify for a moratorium and renters with more than $25 million in revenue are not eligible. It does not discharge the debt, and the moratorium is in effect until May 31.

Additionally, the ordinance will suspend service cutoffs and late fees for non-payment of garbage collection with documentation similar to evictions. The city's contracted garbage collector, Republic Services, objected to the waiving of fees.

During public comment, Elk Grove resident and attorney Amar Shergill, who placed a telephone call in for his participation, suggested that the language in the ordinance needed modification to enhance renter protections from what he called "corporate lawyers." Shergill was one of many who mobilized community opposition to Detrick, Hume, Nguyen, and Suen's action from last week.

"The term 'reasonably able to pay' is a type of very vague language that corporate lawyers insert in these types of ordinances," Shergill said. "So they know they can litigate and take it to court, and the renters won't have the time or money to hire those types of lawyers, and they'll lose."

Earlier this week in a widely distributed opinion piece, Shergill asked the city to reveal in real-time any changes to the ordinance inserted by lobbyists like the California Apartment Association. At last week's meeting, Hobbs admitted he changed the ordinance as it was then proposed at the urging of lawyers with the California Apartment Association.

Along with Shergill's comments, the city council heard from other live callers, recorded messages, and emails read into the record. Before they took public comment, though, Detrick and Hume castigated those who criticized their efforts last week to protect landlords and not reveal their ownership of rental properties.

Detrick aimed at the media and the constituents who criticized him for not revealing his role as a landlord. He did compliment the reporting of the Elk Grove Citizen, who is the city's official newspaper of record, and publishes the city's legal notices.

Saying the social media and online criticism of him were unfair, he said "I'm very disappointed with online bloggers."

During his comments, Hume took digs at his critics and suggested they were uninformed about business dealings. Speaking from a lengthy prepared statement, Hume read for over five minutes his grievances (a recording and separate story on Detrick's and Hume's comments will be posted later).

"I am a landlord, and I bring real-life experience," he claimed.

On person who helped mobilize online opposition to the four council members was Alison Kostusak. Reached after the meeting, Kostusak said she was pleased with the reversal.

"I am thankful that the City Council listened to the people they represent, and took the time to hear me out when I would email them," she said. "This validates my thought that when the people are involved in the process, we can all rise together."

Shergill, who also organized opposition, said the key to reversing last week's decision was citizen involvement. It was also noted by Shergill, who is the Chair of the Progressive Caucus and Executive Board Member of California Democratic Party, the city council needs continual monitoring for outside corporate influence.

"Our City government is only as good as the citizens that inform it. This week, the people of Elk Grove made sure their voices were heard and that our Council did the right thing for renters, for small businesses, and for public health," Shergill said after the meeting. "We will need to continue our vigilance given the hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-town real estate money that flows into Council campaigns."

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.


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D.J. Blutarsky said...

As much as politicians attempt to be people of many faces, occasionally an issue comes along that forces them to reveal their true colors. Once that true face is revealed, such as was the case with this urgency ordinance, no scripted lectures, delayed niceties, or saying the slightly edited revised ordinance is better in some way, can walk back what was originally said.

Hume and Detrick's political careers are toast now, irregardless of whether Detrick is willingly walking away or not. Detrick once said "if you don't think I'm doing a good job, then vote me out". Thankfully, he has saved us from the bother.

Hume feigned running for County Supervisor when Don Nottoli retires, but once the pro-development Connector road gets fully funded and the remaining Old Time Elk Grovian landowners walk away with their lottery checks from selling out, there really is no other political purpose to have Hume in office and he knows that.

Other collateral damage from the urgency ordinance falls on Darren Suen. This registered Democrat who acts like a Republican reminds me of the famous Muhammad Ali saying: "float like a butterfly but sting like a bee". Or his braggadocio "I am the greatest" might be more apopros here. Either way, his reelection to District 1 hangs in the balance.

Councilmember Nguyen is not let off scot-free either. But her original vote to kill the ordinance will probably be forgotten because she stated last night that she is the only one on Council who works directly with the people directly affected (economically) by the virus. Announcing her agency phone number of how people can request assistance was a smart move.

Mayor Ly was the wizard behind the scenes who forced the issue to a reconsideration. I don't know if he chastised his fellow Democrats Suen and Nguyen behind closed doors, but his public demeanor was one of ambivalence and lack of assertiveness. Ly will come out okay on this, and his campaign war chest is a cash cow that does not need developer contributions.

One silver lining of the new teleconferencing format has been the dramatic increase in residents participating in the Council meetings. The past ways of the City Council is finally being called into question, and more of the same will no longer good enough. Future Politicians beware.

This episode is over and now we move on.

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

As heartless and self-serving Mr. Detrick and Mr. Hume showed themselves to be, it was perhaps more disappointing to see how feckless Ms. Nguyen and Mr. Suen were with the two more senior and far more conservative city council members. They have had ample opportunity to take a stance during this crisis, and their failed leadership showed they are spineless.

Mr. Blutarsky is right - it is time to move on until the next crisis and a repeat of leadership failure of the Elk Grove City Council.

Eye on Elk Grove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eye on Elk Grove said...

Steve Detrick is disappointed in the “online bloggers.” Disappointed that the truth hurts is more like it.

However last night, it was obvious the landlord issue really got to the Pat Hume. When has one of Hume’s unending, arms-flaring, finger-pointing diatribes ever been scripted? Hume’s opposite of a “never complain, never explain” tirade on steroids last night definitely was. Whom was Hume really trying to convince of his noble ethics and integrity, us or himself?

Both Detrick and Hume, along with Darren Suen and Stephanie Nguyen showed us who they really are on the first vote. As Maya Angelou always said, “Believe them.”

The real truth, and not Detrick’s or Hume’s histrionic, altered-state view of the truth, It is public outcry is responsible for forcing the turn around.

Detrick, Hume, Nguyen and Suen simply could not do the right thing on their own, could they?

Randy Bekker said...

Gloating of lies an dissipation. It seems you people lost your humanity. In a crisis you find ways to lie, twist the truth an show your hate as you hide behind your fake names. Like school kids bullies you are showing your true colors. I have a roof over my head an I am not a landlord nor a renter. I will continue to worry about the landlords/ property owners and yes the renters. We need both as we get through this crisis together. My questions are simple what happens in June? The Governor is ramping up medical supplies as if we are going to be next after N.Y. So what happens to rent protections in June? Not all landlords are currently protected as you make them to be villains in your storybook. Our we going to see a repeat of 08/09? No one knows, so celebrate like you scored a touchdown. Now what is going to happen to all those that can’t repay the 25% repayment? On a $2000 monthly rent that is an additional $500 a month for 4 months. How are renters going to be able to do that? The Stimulus is the fix all but as we know it will not for everyone. If a person goes back to work they lose there unemployment. Real people will be hurt long term.Will all you Progressives band together an offer donations to the renters or small landlords? This isn’t a victory it changes nothing it kicks the ball down the field an at some point they will have to deal with the heart ache of coming up with 25% to repay their rent. Now the landlords specifically the ones that may have one or two home rentals that have a mortgage that have a little money set aside. They may barely get by but what I am reading they to have to repay this money right after the freeze without affecting their credit. So why you all prance around in the end zone you might show your humanity an respect to everyone because in a crisis people show their true colors good an bad. I am discussed at all your behavior from your group. These moratoriums are only feel good measures unless it comes from the state or the Fed’s with protection. June 1st there will be screaming an crying, people panic because the worst is yet to come according to the build up of medical supplies an Rent will be due.

Spoons and Forks said...

Having some knowledge of Randy’s political philosophy based on his comments during city council meetings, I’ll attempt to translate his stream of consciousness.

Translated: The moratorium will not negate rent, and come June 1 – what then? So why even bother?

To wit: When John Maynard Keynes, father of Keynesian economics which is currently being practiced to the tune of $2 trillion, was asked about the long-run effects of deficit government spending during a financial crisis, answered with the following.

“In the long run, we are all dead.”

Randy Bekker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy Bekker said...

S&F to know what’s in my heart or mind is fool’s gold on your part. Those that actually spend time to know me or read all my comments know your views about me are far from the mark. My comments speak for themselves. Nice try twisting the truth!

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