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September 29, 2020

Supervisors approve eviction moratorium, Labor Day beach restrictions

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a temporary moratorium on evictions in the unincorporated parts of the county through Sept. 30.

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The board also unanimously approved a plan to restrict beach access during the upcoming Labor Day weekend to slow the spread of Covid-19.

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Eviction moratorium

According to Supervisor John Leopold, the County first approved an eviction moratorium in May, when the county saw 8,000 new requests for unemployment benefits after Covid-19 forced businesses throughout the county to close.

That ended May 31, and at that time a similar statewide rule protected renters. That moratorium will end Sept. 1, Leopold said, which prompted the action by the county.

“That doesn’t mean that the crisis has gone away,” he said. “It is our hope…that action in the state legislature will create a statewide response for people to stay in their homes, the best tool to prevent homelessness in the state of California.”

The moratorium is not a rent holiday. Renters will be responsible for paying the rent they owe when the moratorium has ended.

Supervisor Zach Friend added an amendment that directs county staff to study a payment plan, which would give renters a 6- or 12-month repayment option.

“I think the concern as we all know is that at the end of the moratorium you end up with a balloon payment that really makes it pretty infeasible for people,” Friend said.

The moratorium expires on Sept. 30. It prevents evictions for people experiencing financial losses associated with Covid-19.

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Beach closure

With Labor Day looming, a weekend that historically draws hordes of people to Santa Cruz County beaches, the supervisors limited access to beaches in the unincorporated parts of the county from Sept. 5 at 5am until Sept. 7 at 5pm. They will, however, be open for public use on Sept. 5 and 6 from 4–8pm.

“Despite warnings, local beaches remain an attractive spot for congregation, particularly for young people, which has also been experiencing the greatest increase in possible cases,” County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios said.

Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newel in May imposed beach restrictions that allowed beach use before 11am and after 5pm. The more restrictive hours came at the request of the cities of Capitola and Santa Cruz, whose leaders wanted to be able to maintain the needed enforcement staffing, Palacios said.

People can cross the beach for water-based activities such as surfing, paddle-boarding and swimming.

Palacios said that Capitola, Santa Cruz, Monterey County and the State of California are expected to follow the county’s lead in imposing Labor day restrictions.

The motion passed with little discussion from the board. A handful of public speakers opposed the rules.

“This action is putting a nail in the coffin for a lot of local businesses that are struggling and barely hanging on,” said Aptos resident Becky Steinbrunner. “Labor Day weekend is one of the few chances they could be able to recover some of the losses that have come as a result of the lockdown.”

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