Tuesday’s city council meeting continued to touch on the major subjects concerning the City of Cotati, from public safety to the Covid vaccination. Mixed in was a discussion about the eviction moratorium and construction.
The meeting started off just like all the others, with the council asking for any questions from the audience. Once introductions were out of the way, the council started moving forward on the agenda.
The hot topic from Tuesday night was City Manager Damien O’Bid’s update on the eviction moratorium. Since March of 2020 the issue of evictions has not only been a local issue for Sonoma County, but a nationwide issue. Those following along know that California has passed a number of laws stopping evictions from taking place and Congress is now discussing ways to make sure citizens don’t get their houses foreclosed on them during this time.
O’Bid went over the Executive Order signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last March, which was intended to suspend evictions and make sure landlords can’t kick people out without reason. These policies relate to Sonoma County, as City Manager O’Bid explained. He went over things like SB 91, which means that qualifying tenants and landlords would be reimbursed for most unpaid rent. Also, SB 91 would use federal funds to pay up to 80 percent of back rent accumulated between April 1, 2020 and March 2021. In addition, any landlord who accepts the money would have to forgive the remaining unpaid rent for that period.
O’Bid also touched on the Cares Act that Congress passed intended to help those facing eviction, as well as the Ellis Act of 1985. This presentation led to the lengthiest discussion of the evening. Council member Susan Harvey was concerned if anything would be put in place to make sure the landlords are following the rules and not evicting people anyway. She was the council member most engaged with this topic regarding questions and other things.
Evictions are a major issue in California because of how much it costs to live here. Tenants pay high amounts of money for apartments and want to make sure they are protected when something out of their control happens.
The second topic was a resolution regarding awarding of the FY 2020/21 City-Wide Traffic Safety Improvement Projects Construction Contract. This was a presentation about making the intersections and parts of Cypress Ave. and West School and W. Sierra Ave. safer. W. Sierra Ave. has been a topic of discussion many times for the council because of how dangerous it is, for not only drivers, but pedestrians as well. Council member Mark Landman touched on the exact point that people drive too fast and wanted to know when construction on the projects would start. For those interested, it will start in March.
Making traffic safer is always a priority for a city like Cotati because of how small the town is. Cotati is a place where people can walk, jog, and hang out, so making it and the surrounding areas safer is imperative. The motion passed the council in an unanimous vote.
Finally, City Manager O’Bid gave his update. The update was again vaccine centric. O’Bid said the county is still working through the higher risk groups, meaning those 75 or older and essential workers like food clerks. Though cases are dropping, the county is still in the purple tier. The county will install another 20x60 tent this week. Something else of note is that all flags will be half-mast this week per a presidential order to honor the half a million people who have died from Covid-19.
It’s nearing a year since Covid-19 ravaged the country and forced people’s lives to change. Even though businesses are opening up, sports are trickling back and the vaccine is being distributed, the council is still meeting virtually and there’s no sign there will be in person meetings anytime soon. As always, if community members wish to tune in they can just go to the city council website and click on the link that will allow them to tune in.