ELK GROVE, California — After failing to pass temporary eviction protections last week for Elk Grove renters affected by the coronavirus, the city council on Wednesday decided to halt evictions for residential and commercial tenants amid a public health emergency.

The vote came after a long week of residents calling and emailing councilmembers to complain about the vote against helping renters amid the coronavirus pandemic — dozens of which were read aloud during the lengthy public comment portion of the meeting.

"This is not a thoughtless council, or a heartless council," said councilmember Darren Suen, who requested the ordinance be voted on by residential and commercial. "Things are just changing rapidly. We hear you…. What’s paramount right now is peace of mind."

The ordinance is in effect immediately, and will end May 31, 2020.

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It applies to tenants who have suffered a household or business income loss of 20% or have had to pay 20% of their income in medical bills as a result of COVID-19. The ordinance was amended during the meeting to add that Elk Grove businesses with at least $25 million in gross sales would not qualify for the protection, excluding franchisees.

If a renter does qualify for protection, they must still pay what they can reasonably pay at the time rent is due.

The protections allow tenants who can show that they have been affected by the coronavirus up to 120 days to pay rent after the end of the emergency order. The tenant must tell their landlord of their situation before rent is due.

The city also will not shut off waste or drainage services for late payments.

The vote comes the same day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that four of the nation's largest banks — Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi and JP Morgan Chase — agreed to temporarily suspend mortgage payments for 90 days for those impacted by the coronavirus.

Newsom weeks ago stopped short of preventing evictions for Californians affected by the coronavirus, opting instead to leave the decision up to local governments.

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It was the fear foreclosures that stopped the city from approving the protections last week, as councilmembers said passing the ordinance would be unfair to landlords.

"That's all in favor of the tenants and nothing for the landlords, which it just makes a bad situation worse," Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steven Detrick said during the March 18 meeting.

Earlier in the discussion over the emergency ordinance, Detrick said he felt the city was "really trying to jump the gun last week" when trying to pass the protections. He blamed the news media and "political posturing" by other mayors who passed similar temporary eviction protections for creating a false narrative around the ordinance.

Still, he said he supported the newly fleshed out ordinance.

"We benefited from waiting," Detrick said.

Elk Grove’s protections were passed as the news broke that the Senate was expected to approve the federal government's $2 trillion stimulus package that would send money directly to American citizens — something Detrick made an effort to point out during discussion.

"I just got a message that the $2 trillion package just passed," Detrick said of the stimulus bill that sends money to U.S. residents. "So I don’t think people will have trouble paying."

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