At a special meeting on Tuesday, City Council voted not to pass an urgency ordinance that would have implemented a 45-day ban on certain evictions and high rent increases.
Mayor Tom Butt and Councilmembers Nathaniel Bates and Vinay Pimple voted ‘no’ on the moratorium, which required six out of seven votes to pass. The decision came after the council voted 4-3 to overturn Butt’s ruling that the urgency ordinance violated Rosenberg’s Rules of Order, which govern parliamentary procedures in California.
According to Butt, the urgency ordinance was simply a replica—or a “motion to reconsider”—of a moratorium on evictions that Councilmember Jael Myrick failed to pass earlier this year. The Rules of Order state that a “motion to reconsider” must be made on the same day as the original motion, and cannot be made only by a member of the council who voted in the minority of the original motion.
The council’s final decision was met with chants of “shame on you” from the assembled crowd. One attendee received two warnings from the mayor for her conduct. Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, who supported Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin’s motion to place the ordinance on the council’s agenda, echoed the crowd’s condemnations.
“Shame on you, Nat; shame on you, Vinay; shame on you, Tom,” said Beckles after the mayor adjourned the meeting.
The meeting was preceded by a press conference held at Civic Center Plaza on the steps outside the City Council Chambers, where over 35 Richmond renters gathered to show support for the moratorium.
Many of them were also among the 42 people who signed up to speak during the open forum for public comment. City council candidates Ben Choi and Melvin Willis were among those who spoke in favor of the moratorium.
At the end of the meeting, Bates said that supporters of the moratorium knew in advance that he, Pimple and Butt would oppose it. “What have we gained? Nothing,” he said.