San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto on Monday said his department was postponing all evictions until further notice. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF sheriff calls off evictions during citywide shelter-in-place order

Court to continue holding eviction proceedings amid coronavirus

San Francisco’s sheriff has halted evictions until further notice after public health officials decided to place The City on lockdown for at least three weeks over the coronavirus.

Sheriff Paul Miyamoto said his deputies would not immediately move forward with any evictions in response to the shelter-in-place orders issued in San Francisco and six nearby counties at midnight Tuesday.

“Our office is going to be postponing all the evictions that we have scheduled and any upcoming evictions that may come out in regards to the civil process,” Miyamoto said at a press conference Monday.

The decision comes after Mayor London Breed announced a moratorium on Friday preventing landlords from evicting anyone who is unable to pay rent because of the coronavirus.

Miyamoto joined Alameda County by saying he would not enforce evictions as the pandemic rapidly spreads throughout the Bay Area. The number of coronavirus cases in San Francisco reached 43 on Tuesday.

While the Sheriff’s Department does not plan to remove tenants from their homes, eviction proceedings are still expected to continue in San Francisco Superior Court.

The court delayed criminal jury trials and other hearings on Monday to reduce the number of people coming to court, but does not appear to have postponed eviction cases.

“I’m told that unless there’s new legislation to change current rules, it’s business as usual regarding eviction proceedings,” said Ken Garcia, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Superior Court.

But housing attorneys like Cary Gold with the Eviction Defense Collaborative and Deepa Varma of the San Francisco Tenants Union said the courts should halt those hearings.

Gold said the courts continuing to operate means dozens of people will be grouped together in courtrooms.

“I don’t think they’re paying attention to the health and safety risk of people, clients, the nonprofit staff and court staff,” said Gold, who successfully ran for a seat as a Superior Court judge earlier this month.

Gold said the courts should be able to reschedule eviction proceeding because of the statewide emergency declared by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month and the local shelter-in-place order.

“It’s in the court’s inherent power to obey an emergency order,” Gold said.

Supervisor Dean Preston is planning to introduce a resolution Tuesday calling for a statewide eviction moratorium, which includes delaying eviction cases in court. Breed expanded the residential eviction moratorium Tuesday to include a 30-day halt to commercial evictions of small and medium businesses financially impacted by coronavirus.

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