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Santa Barbara County supervisors approve two COVID-19 urgency ordinances
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Santa Barbara County supervisors approve two COVID-19 urgency ordinances

One urgency ordinance preventing eviction was extended while another ordinance allowing parking restrictions was approved Tuesday by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors as they sought to mitigate impacts from the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neither ordinance won unanimous approval, with 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam voting “no” on both over his objections to the overall strategy for controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The new urgency ordinance gives the county road commissioner the authority to institute temporary parking restrictions, primarily in South Coast beach neighborhoods that have been heavily impacted by the easing of stay-at-home orders.

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Residents near Butterfly Beach and the Miramar had complained that people from Southern California, looking to get out of the house and soak up some sunshine, have been lining their streets with parked cars, blocking driveways and, worse, using their yards as toilets and trash dumping grounds.

Neither of those beach areas have restrooms or parking lots and are considered neighborhood beaches.

The ordinance will become immediately effective for inland portions of the unincorporated areas of the county, but it will have to get a green light from the Coastal Commission before it’s effective in the Coastal Zone.

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said she hoped the road commissioner would use discretion in instituting parking restrictions.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino questioned where people would go if they are prevented from accessing those beaches, perhaps pushing the problem to other neighborhood beaches.

“I think that this is caused by an unreasonable stay-at-home order and a too-slow incremental back-to-business order,” Adam said.

Supervisors also extended a previous county urgency ordinance banning landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent if they are unable to pay because of financial problems caused by the pandemic, like the loss of a job or business.

The previous ordinance is scheduled to expire May 31, but the board won’t have another meeting before then, so it was renewed early.

However, it will only become effective if the governor renews his urgency order that blocked tenant evictions or another that gave county’s the authority to take such action.

Darcel Elliott, chief of staff for 1st District Supervisor Das Williams, who brought the ordinance forward with 2nd District Supervisor and Board Chairman Gregg Hart, said the ordinance does not relieve renters of the obligation to pay rent.

Renters also must prove their inability to pay rent is the result of economic hardships posed by the response to the coronavirus pandemic.