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Antioch will begin drafting just cause eviction ordinance

The City of Antioch California logo seal
City of Antioch
Bay City News
The City of Antioch California logo seal

Over the last several years, organizers and housing rights advocates in Antioch have made significant progress in fighting for tenant rights: they’ve established rent control and helped pass a tenant anti-harassment ordinance. Now, they’re working to prevent unjust evictions.

“Now we're pushing for just cause ordinance in order to essentially protect as many families who have been left out by state policy when it comes to evictions and why somebody can be evicted.”

This is Luis Fernando Anguiano, he’s with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE. He says that Antioch has some of the highest eviction rates in the Bay Area, mostly due to loopholes in various tenant protection laws.

For example, renters living in single family owner-occupied homes aren’t protected by “just cause” eviction protections, nor are tenants who’ve been renting for fewer than 12 months. Again, Aguiano.

“We don't think that that is quite reasonable.”

He says oftentimes landlords will evict someone, do a minor renovation, and then raise the rent higher than they would’ve been allowed to had the tenant stayed.

“We do know that there's a huge correlation between homelessness and evictions. You know, a lot of people who do fall into homelessness, a lot of them might be on the streets for the first time. And, oftentimes, once you're on the street, it's very hard to get yourself out. Once there's an eviction notice in your record it's hard to be rented at a new place.”

Some landlords, real estate companies, and lobbyists are opposed to strengthening tenant protections. They say it’s already hard enough to evict tenants as it is. But Anguiano says the legislation won’t punish good landlords.

“If a tenant is not holding up their side of the bargain, then these policies will not prevent them from evicting that tenant.”

There have also been concerns about what rental protections do to the housing market, but he brushed this off.

“We hear this story over and over again in every city: 'They're gonna withhold their housing, they're gonna withhold this, they're gonna take it, they're gonna build elsewhere.' But they don't, and this is just a scare tactic to hold us into this situation where, oh, if we speak up, then we are too afraid because they're gonna take away the housing. That shouldn't be the case.”

Over the next month, Antioch city staff will draft the legislation for “just cause” eviction protections. Anguiano says his organization is hopeful that the matter will be put on the agenda and voted on before summer.

Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.