The Bishop City Council voted 5-0 in favor of adopting an emergency ordinance that will prohibit landlords from dramatically increasing rent on tenants and evicting residents without just cause. The city ordinance is in response to a loophole created by AB 1482, which is designed to protect tenants from egregious hikes in an individual’s monthly rent. However, from now until January 1, 2020, landlords had the option to dramatically increase rent before the ordinance was made official.
Mayor Pro Tempore, Laura Smith spoke about the possible rental hikes saying, “We are not looking to handcuff landlords by passing this ordinance. There is a drastic shortage of housing in the area, and people are probably not going to find a place to live. We don’t want people kicked out of their homes with the cold weather and no place to go.”
Councilman, Stephen Muchovej expressed similar feelings, indicating that the council’s job is to help its citizens. “We are here to help people out in town. We should prevent these sort of scenarios [subjecting tenants to rental hikes] from happening.”
Bishop resident Steve Seats, who was previously evicted from his home at the Primrose Lane Apartments in town due to a rent increase, spoke to the city council and expressed his feelings on the matter.
“It sickens me when I heard that over forty families were at risk of being evicted from their homes.” Seats said.
Seats, who now says he lives in his car and spends most nights in the parking lot adjacent to the City of Bishop Council Chambers, also told the public about his experience of allegedly being harassed by a member of the Bishop Police Department since being evicted from his apartment.
“Last night an officer threatened to arrest me for sleeping in my car in the parking lot.” Seats said. “The officer became progressively more and more aggravated when I did not comply. The behavior was inappropriate by the police force.”
Shortly after Seats spoke, Mayor Jim Ellis gave his thoughts on the ordinance saying, “This ordinance is to protect our citizens.” Ellis also added that the housing market makes things difficult for low-income individuals. “We have a tough housing market here. I don’t think any of us have a problem with voting in favor of an ordinance.”