Advocating to Stop Eviction Proceedings and Enforcement Actions in Oakland During the COVID-19 Emergency

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Baylegal’s advocacy in alameda county

In Alameda County, BayLegal has joined with partner organizations in advocating for a halt of at least 3 weeks’ duration in all unlawful detainer (UD) proceedings and eviction enforcements.

BayLegal attorney Hilda Chan
BayLegal attorney Hilda Chan testifies before Oakland City Council, 3/12/2020

On March 12, 2020, Bay Area Legal Aid joined our colleagues from the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), Centro Legal de la Raza, and the Eviction Defense Collaborative (EDC), along with a number of tenants’ organizations and community groups, in urging the Oakland City Council to request that the Superior Court of Alameda County cease all unlawful detainer (UD) proceedings for a period of at least three weeks as a public safety measure in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The coalition of organizations requesting this measure are united in seeing eviction court proceedings as an undue public health burden falling on very low-income, often medically at-risk individuals and families and their advocates, compelling them to appear in often crowded court facilities at a time when public health agencies are unanimous in recommending that such large gatherings of people in close quarters be avoided wherever possible. Further, removal enforcements in the midst of this public health emergency threaten to add individuals and families to the number of those living unsheltered and exposed to exacerbated transmission risk at a time when our public agencies should be doing everything in their power to minimize potential avenues for further spread.

In response to community and advocate testimony, Council adopted a resolution urging the Court to pause eviction proceedings for three weeks. The Court issued a press release on March 14, 2020, indicating several significant steps to mitigate exposure and transmission risk, with suspension of many in-person Court functions, and continuances in some ongoing proceedings, including those affecting evictions.

However, the Court’s announced actions in the case of eviction proceedings only cover a continuance of trials and settlement conferences for unlawful detainers set for jury trials. BayLegal has signed onto a letter to the court by EBCLC dated March 15, 2020, requesting further steps by the Court including:

  1. Continue allĀ trials and settlement conferences for 3 weeks, regardless of whether they court trials or jury trials;
  2. Continue all ex parte hearings for entry of judgment;
  3. Cease all requests for entry of default, default judgment & writs execution; and
  4. Urge the Sheriff’s Department to cease execution of evictions.

We will continue to update this section of this page as new developments emerge.

Media Coverage:
Other Updates:
  • March 16, 2020 letter from EBCLC to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, co-signed by legal assistance and community organizations including Bay Area Legal Aid. The letter requests that the Sheriff’s Office stay all eviction enforcements effective immediately and for a period of at least 60 days, in order to protect public health during the COVID-19 emergency.