Measures include increasing eviction penalties, imposing fines/prosecution for Emergency Order violations and deferring transient occupancy tax for hotel industry

At its first 100% virtual meeting held April 7, 2020, the Goleta City Council approved a number of COVID-19 related measures to help protect residents and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

The actions included increasing penalties for violations of the City’s moratorium on evictions. The City passed a resolution prohibiting commercial and residential evictions due to COVID-19 on March 17 and on March 27 the Governor issued a similar order. The City order will impose a higher financial cost to disregarding the City’s orders to deter landlords from evicting a tenant who cannot pay rent due to loss of income due to COVID-19. The first violation would be subject to a $5,000 fine, second violation within one year of the first violation would be subject to a $7,500 fine, and subsequent violation within one year of the first violation would be subject to a $10,000 fine. For more details on City’s eviction prohibitions and associated fines go to the City’s website.

Mayor Paula Perotte said, “It’s important that we do whatever we can to help ensure that residents don’t lose their homes due to this unprecedented health crisis. People need a safe place to call home now more than ever.”

The City Council also approved issuing administrative citations or prosecution of a misdemeanor for violations of the City’s orders issued during a declared local emergency. The City’s current emergency order, which was ratified on March 17, required the immediate closure of restaurants and bars, with the exception of take-out orders, the closure of gyms, bowling alleys, movie theatres and arcades. The order also prohibited the use of play structures and fitness equipment. The skatepark at Jonny D. Wallis park, group picnic sites and recreation courts are also closed. The action by Council gives the City a means to enforce the City’s emergency order, which is aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The standard penalties would apply including $100 per occurrence for the first violation, $200 per occurrence for the second violation, and $500 for each subsequent violation. If a misdemeanor is pursued it would be punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment not to exceed six months.

Mayor Paula Perotte said, “While our community has been extremely cooperative and understanding of the City’s Urgency Order and the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, this gives us a means to hold people accountable who willfully violate these orders and put our whole community at risk.”

The City also passed a measure to help provide some relief to the City’s hotel industry which is experiencing a sharp decline in business with low occupancy rates. The City Council agreed to allow hotels, motels and short-term vacation rental operators within its jurisdiction, upon written request, to defer payment of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) for two months. The City Council granted the first deferral of payment of the TOT for the months of March and April 2020 and required payment to be made by June 30, 2020. The City Manager is authorized to grant subsequent deferrals at two month increments if the local emergency is still in place. The City’s TOT rate is equivalent to 12% of the cost of a room per night and is a tax imposed upon visitors.

Mayor Paula Perotte said, “The hotel industry provides jobs and important revenue to the City and we want to help ease the financial blow being dealt to them at this time.”

For updated information on the City’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, please go to City’s website. If you would like to receive City alerts, you can sign up on their website or text GOLETA COVID19 to 468311.