Violations of business and residential evictions motivated City of Paso Robles to institute moratorium

PASO ROBLES — On Friday in an emergency Council meeting, March 27, the City of Paso Robles voted to unanimously to instituted a moratorium on certain types of evictions performed by businesses and residents. The Council also froze penalties and fines for paying Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) and delay the payment until August 31 at the latest in a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember John Hamon dissenting.

Councilmember Hamon asked Police Chief Ty Lewis if the moratorium was necessary or if the City was looking for work for its staff.

Lewis said that both the City of San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s department created a hotline to deal with complaints of people and businesses trying to evict people despite temporary protective laws already set in place.

“No, we are not looking for work Councilman Hamon,” Lewis said. He continued, “They have received an influx of community members that are phoning in to report businesses and even neighbors in some cases for violating the order.”

Lewis said that they have identified approximately 20 businesses in Paso Robles violating the State’s freeze on evictions. Lewis explained that the moratorium gives City staff the method to deal with people not abiding by the freeze.

“It would start with a phone call or a quick visit to the business to make sure that they’re aware of the order or where they fall in hose categories of essential businesses so that we can progressively deal with this situation is they don’t want to be good neighbors,” Lewis said.

The halt on evictions is part of the urgency ordinance affirming the orders of the Emergency Services Director and Public HealthOfficer of the County of San Luis Obispo Related to the COVID-19 State and Local Emergency.

Hamon said that the City would be “looking for every cent” and that any loss of revenue during the pandemic is not recommended. He argued that that TOT is the City’s money and should be in City hands. He also said that the amount in question is not enough to make a large impact on businesses saying “to me, it’s not a whole lot of money.”

Councilmember Fred Strong disagreed with Hamon saying the City has other resources it can use during the shelter in place, “we don’t have the impacts from tourism that we normally have.”

Mayor Steve Martin also disagreed with Hamon saying that it is not wise to “kill the golden goose” by putting extra stress on the tourism industry that produces large sums for the City. Mayor said the move would “ensure revenue streams in the future.”

Getting through this together, Paso Robles