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California Judicial Council Votes To End Eviction Protections As Lawmakers Mull Fix

SACRAMENTO (AP) - California will resume eviction and foreclosure proceedings on Sept. 1 unless the state Legislature takes action after the court system's rule-making body on Thursday voted to end temporary statewide protections for people who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Judicial Council of California voted 19-1 to lift the rules that had been in place since April 6.

State lawmakers are negotiating with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on a proposal that would halt most evictions for the duration of the pandemic. But they have yet to reach a deal despite having five months to negotiate.

California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has been reluctant to let the rules stay in place much longer, saying it's the job of the judicial branch to interpret the laws, not make them. She had previously pushed for the rules to expire this week. But lawmakers successfully lobbied her to extend the protections through the end of August, giving the Legislature more time to reach a deal on a longer-term solution.

"I urge our sister branches to act expeditiously to resolve this looming crisis," Cantil-Sakauye said in a news release announcing the vote.

Many local governments, including most of the state's largest cities, have put in place their own eviction and foreclosure protections that will continue beyond Sept. 1. But some of those protections are also set to expire. Without statewide protections, advocates fear a wave of evictions similar to when the housing bubble burst at the start of the Great Recession more than a decade ago.

The state Legislature is seriously considering two proposals. Both would halt evictions during the pandemic. But they differ on how to compensate property owners for lost rent.

The Assembly version would protect property owners from foreclosure. The Senate version would give property owners the option of taking credits that would lower how much they owe in state taxes beginning in 2024. Owners could sell those credits before 2024 if they needed immediate cash.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.

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