The government of Sonoma County has secretly become one of the largest destroyers of affordable safe housing in the North Bay.
Although it spent more than $100 million to create, sustain and subsidize affordable housing last year, and although our political representatives frequently state that affordable housing and homelessness is a top budgetary and legislative priority, the county’s code enforcement agency has, over the years, caused more evictions of low income renters and more homelessness than any single landlord in California.
That’s why this week the Sonoma Independent is joining a grassroots group of housing activists to launch the Stop All Government Evictions Campaign, with a petition to County Supervisors that we urge all concerned citizens to sign, here on Change.org.
Thousands of UnPermitted Sonoma County renters live with constant fear that one call from an anonymous neighbor to the county code enforcement agency Permit Sonoma will result in a dreaded 30-day eviction order, which happens almost every time county code enforcement inspects a trailer, yurt, tent or tiny home, regardless of how safe they are.
This is often because antiquated housing code law requires the usage of septic systems rather than composting toilets and trailer bathrooms, even though these same bathrooms for environmental, affordability and water conservation reasons, are legal in many other states, in campgrounds, and when mobile homes are parked on public streets.
Tyra Harrington, Code Enforcement Manager for Permit Sonoma, claims that her agency’s 176 orders resulting in the eviction of residents of many low-cost dwellings during the last 12 months were issued to “protect the health and safety” of the people living in them.
Permit Sonoma takes the uncompromising position that any un-permitted dwelling is a danger to its residents, despite overwhelming evidence that most are perfectly safe, especially considering the alternatives. As a result, the agency effectively forces housing providers to remove or destroy all un-permitted dwellings within 30 days or face fines of up to $100 per day.
Incredibly, property owners are being forced to evict tenants during a declared housing emergency, something that would be illegal if they did it without being ordered to do so by their government.
It does not matter whether a person has another place to go, or whether they become homeless, or even whether they are a senior citizen. Permit Sonoma takes a position that regardless of such issues, if the home has not gone through the expensive, long process of installing conventional plumbing and getting a permit, it must be vacated, within 30 days, and its tenants evicted.
On August 20, 2021, Permit Sonoma wrote such a 30-day vacate order for a West County family who rent, for $625 a month, land and utilities to Copperwoman, a beloved 70-year old local songwriter and grandmother.
Rather than join the thousands of homeless in Sonoma County, Copperwoman has chosen to question the law, and to help lead our “Stop All Government Evictions” Campaign. She wrote the housing rights movement song below, to describe the experience that she and hundreds like her face because of our government’s choice to ruthlessly enforce dysfunctional laws.
Permit Sonoma’s hypocritical orders to evict residents from safe affordable homes for their own safety is the most egregious disconnect that exists today between the needs of the governed and the government that represents us.
Please sign our petition here to call for an end to this inhumane, destructive disconnect between the intention of the governed and the actions of our government.
Join us in urging Sonoma County Supervisors to pass a moratorium on Permit Sonoma enforcement actions when they result in the eviction of low-income renters, unless there is an immediate threat to their health and safety that is demonstrably greater than the health and safety risk of being homeless.
During the 1990’s, in the midst of the unconscionable war on Americans who used marijuana, local governments like the cities of San Francisco and Seattle passed ordinances instructing police to stand down and make marijuana their lowest enforcement priority.
These moratoriums were effective, immediate legal solutions that managed to address the gross injustice of victimless marijuana arrests, without having to go through the years-long process of changing state law.
On behalf of thousands of our un-Permitted neighbors, and their affordable housing providing land owners, the Sonoma Independent urges that our county supervisors pass a similarly intended enforcement moratorium this year so that these senseless evictions end and thousands of our neighbors can finally feel secure in their homes this winter.
Everybody needs a home.
Stop all government evictions. Now!
How You Can Help Us Stop Government Evictions
Share on social media and through email! Sign the petition here and also, please consider adding your personal comment. We will be entering this into the County Supervisors records when this issue comes up for a debate.
Or copy this url (same as link above) into emails to friends/family who might be interested or on your social media: https://www.change.org/stop-all-government-evictions
Donate! Any amount would be helpful! But please donate directly to us through Paypal or Venmo and NOT to Change.org, which asks for money after a petition is signed. We can use those finds more effectively than their donations, which are spent entirely on Chnge.org advertising.
PayPal or Venmo to firstname.lastname@example.org
All donations will be used by Progressive Source Communications, the parent company of the Sonoma Independent, for direct costs of the Stop All Government Evictions Campaign. All funding will go to build public awareness of these preventable evictions through local outreach and targeted online advertising, in our effort to pressure supervisors to vote for a moratorium or policy change to stop them.
Contact your Supervisor
The most important thing that each Sonoma County citizen can do is to directly contact those elected and paid to represent us. Ask that they place this issue on the agenda and vote for a moratorium or major policy change on Permit Sonoma’s vacate orders that result in evictions of low income renters from trailers, tiny homes and other safe affordable dwellings.
The Board of Supervisors office phone number for all districts is (707) 565-2241. Ask to speak with your supervisor and leave a message or speak to a staffer. Or you can send an email.
Listing of supervisors:
Susan Gorin, 1st District (East Santa Rosa, Kenwood, Sonoma). Email: Susan.Gorin@sonoma-county.org
David Rabbitt, 2nd District (Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma). Email: David.Rabbitt@sonoma-county.org
Chris Coursey, 3rd District (Santa Rosa / Rohnert Park), Email: email@example.com
James Gore, 4th District (Windsor, Healdsburg, Cloverdale) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynda Hopkins, 5th District (Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, West County). Email: email@example.com