The Santa Barbara City Council adopted an ordinance Tuesday that will require just cause for residential evictions, as well as a resolution establishing relocation assistance payments for no-fault just cause evictions.
In its meeting on Tuesday, council members agreed to the following additional protections for tenants in addition to state law’s protections: setting relocation assistance at two months’ rent per rental unit plus one month for special needs tenants; including in the definition of “tenant” those who agree to oral agreements (but encouraging tenants to sign written agreements for their own protections); and changing language from “similar” to “same” to clarify and qualify the landlord’s obligation and remove ambiguity on the duration of the renewal and the rental amount.
In addition, the council asked staff to come back within a year with data on how this affects the rental market.
The council approved this ordinance with a 6-1 vote, with the dissenting vote going to Mayor Cathy Murillo. She said she believes relocation assistance should be provided for four months’ rent plus one month for special needs tenants.
“Loopholes and flexibility can sometimes really be good,” Council member Meagan Harmon said of the state ordinance. “It allows us to account for that specific and individual experience.
“But… while flexibility is good, we have to make sure that the flexibility is not so broad and the loophole isn’t so big that it undermines the fundamental purpose of the ordinance altogether.”
In other news, the council officially designated La Casa De La Raza, located at 601 E. Montecito St., as a historic landmark.
The council deemed it historic and necessary to preserve because of its unique architectural style and historical significance, particularly as a symbol of welcoming and cultural engagement for the local Latinx community.
Council member Alejandra Gutierrez said that her parents’ first jobs were at La Casa De La Raza when they immigrated.
“My dad was a janitor for many years and my mom came and helped with the front desk,” she said. “For me, today is a very deciding moment. I’m really proud of my parents and I know La Casa meant so much.”
Council member Oscar Gutierrez shared that his parents actually met at La Casa De La Raza.
“I grew up going there for so many events and even now,” he said. “During 2017, after the fires and the debris flow, I went there to volunteer for the Red Cross. It was just a flat-out sanctuary for a lot of people to get aid and resources during that trying time and it’s still that.”
“It encompasses everything when people need services, information and safety. That’s where they go,” Mayor Cathy Murillo said. “The building is beautiful and needs to be preserved in its physical state.”
Finally, the council approved the staff’s recommendation of amending the Commercial Temporary Eviction Moratorium Ordinance in light of current health and safety conditions related to COVID-19, and chose the effective date to be Jan. 1, 2021.