California Set to Extend Eviction Protections

Monday: Here’s what to know about the deal aimed at preventing California from falling off an “eviction cliff.”


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In 2020, tenants rights lawyers and activists gathered at a state office building in San Francisco to protest what they feared was the impending rescission of the pandemic mandate that stopped evictions.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Good morning.

California renters teetering on the edge of homelessness may now be able to breathe a small sigh of relief as lawmakers move forward a last-minute deal extending eviction protections through Sept. 30.

“Even though our state has reopened, hundreds of thousands of Californians are grappling with rental debt and the threat of eviction,” said David Chiu, a State Assembly member who leads the housing and community development committee. “Removing eviction protections now, while billions of rent relief dollars are still available, would be a disaster and exacerbate our homelessness crisis.”

The state’s eviction moratorium was set to expire on Wednesday, meaning that landlords would have been able to start the process for kicking out renters who were behind on payments.

Although Gov. Gavin Newsom has promoted his plan to use billions of federal stimulus dollars to cover the entirety of low-income tenants’ back rent, advocates say that many of the state’s pandemic-hit renters still remain at risk of becoming homeless.

At issue is the speed with which that money is being distributed. As my colleagues reported, as of a week ago, only about 8 percent of the $619 million in requests for rental assistance under the state’s existing, more modest program had been paid.

Some tenant groups said that the extension through September still won’t leave enough time to get help to the tenants who need it most.

“This timeline does not match the reality the state faces and tenants will be left out to dry,” Francisco Duenas, executive director of the tenant advocacy organization Housing Now, said in a statement on Friday, when the deal was announced.

The proposed extension also includes provisions that would streamline payments to tenants and landlords who had already gotten approved for rental assistance under the existing program, send money to tenants directly and set a new process aimed at keeping tenants from being evicted if they’re eligible for aid. Tenant advocates have said that many are unable to navigate complex, onerous eviction proceedings.

Landlord groups said they were disappointed that the state is on track to extend the moratorium. Their members, especially those who own fewer properties, have had to keep paying mortgages, insurance and other costs without sufficient income.

“It is frustrating that the State of California and numerous local governments have not quickly disbursed funds to those in need,” Tom Bannon, head of the California Apartment Association, said in a statement on Friday.

Jason Elliott, a senior counselor to the governor, acknowledged that distributing the money was a challenge, “while guarding against fraud and making sure we prioritize those who are struggling the most.”

And lawmakers said that some kind of extension was necessary to prevent what they have described as “an eviction cliff.”

Newsom said in a statement on Friday that he was eager to sign the measure as soon as he gets it.

For more:

CalMatters explains in detail the provisions of the deal for renters and tenants.

Catch up on the context around Newsom’s big plans for the state’s big budget surplus.

Read the full story from last week about the plan to pay low-income tenants’ back rent — all of it.

Here’s what else to know today


Fawn Sharp, a former president of the Quinault Nation and president of the National Congress of American Indians. Credit…Josue Rivas for The New York Times

Many Native Americans were forced to live in some of the most undesirable areas of the country, first by white settlers and then by the government. Now, climate change is making those marginal lands uninhabitable.

California’s utility grid operators anticipated the need to declare a flex alert today as high temperatures sweep across the state. (Here’s more about why we have flex alerts.)

The drought is affecting all parts of life, whether you know it or not. That includes higher costs for food, The Press Democrat reports as part of a special section.

In Silicon Valley, The Mercury News reports, experts and businesses envision a future in which fires are detected by artificial intelligence that dispatches firefighting drones to knock them down.

The Delta variant is prevalent among new coronavirus cases in California, The Los Angeles Times reports.

California’s workplace safety agency had ordered companies to pay about $4.6 million in fines. Months later, they’ve paid almost nothing, The Sacramento Bee reports.

Under a new plan, the three top University of California campuses — Los Angeles, Berkeley and San Diego — would reduce their out-of-state students to make space for residents, The Los Angeles Times reports. The state would make up the funding difference.

Chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants have for years talked about their work with a sustainable seafood farm outside Sacramento called Passmore. But now, some are cutting ties because Passmore has actually been repackaging caviar from other countries, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Hillsborough, the Bay Area suburb, and the owner of a distinctive — and divisive — Flintstones-themed house reached a settlement earlier this year allowing the dinos to stay, The Palo Alto Daily Post reports.

On the 20th anniversary of “The Fast and the Furious,” Vulture asked the actor Chad Lindberg, who played Jesse, everything you want to know about participating in the birth of a cultural juggernaut.

Jacques Barzaghi, a longtime confidante and soul mate of Jerry Brown known for his Zen sensibility and “far out” persona, died early this month at his home in Normandy, France. The two were inseparable for decades.

And finally …


The El Palo Alto redwood tree is squeezed next to a busy train line, with a concrete wall pressing near its roots.Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

If you’ve ever been to a Stanford University athletic contest, you have perhaps watched a student gyrate lewdly, gesture wildly or even get into a fight while dressed as the school’s googly-eyed, unofficial tree mascot. But did you know that tree is based on a real redwood?

El Palo Alto, the 120-foot-tall, 1,081-year-old symbol of the city, has survived pollution and isolation from its kin, wedged as it is, between a concrete wall and railroad tracks, Jim Robbins wrote in this story for The Times.

Its venerated status has helped it keep standing, he reports. But a Caltrain project that was supposed to help El Palo Alto thrive has been postponed. Read more here.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

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