Antioch Council continues second reading of tenant anti-retaliation, harassment ordinance on split vote

To Aug. 22 meeting with one change; won’t have to start over

By Allen D. Payton

The renters in Antioch who have been seeking an ordinance on anti-harassment and retaliation from landlord will have to wait a little longer for it to pass and be implemented.

During their meeting Tuesday night, August 8, 2023, the Antioch City Council, with District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson absent and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica recusing himself, voted 2-1 to continue the second reading of the tenant anti-retaliation and harassment ordinance with one change, so the process won’t have to begin again. That occurred after Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker refused any additional proposed changes by District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, who again cast the only no vote as she did during the July 25th council meeting.

One change was requested by a representative of the California Apartment Association (CAA) and it was included in the motion.

Ogorchock also asked for changes saying, “I don’t want to start from scratch and see everyone come back.”

“I do think we need a due process when we’re talking about the burden of proof,” she stated.

“The burden is always with the tenant,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe responded.

“There are some things we wanted changed that weren’t changed,” he pointed out. “At this point I think we need to continue. If we make any changes outside of that, then we need to start over.

However, Acting City Attorney Ruthan Ziegler, who was contracted to serve in City Attorney Thomas L. Smith’s absence, rebutted the mayor.

“You can direct staff to make changes and then those can be brought back for another second reading,” she said “What you would be doing is treating this evening as another first reading.”

“Oh, then in 30 days it would be starting, anyway,” Thorpe responded.

Torres-Walker spoke next saying, “I spent my last, three years on the council, and have been in the process that have butchered some really strong policies. I do not plan to be a part of any more processes where we sit in front of the public…to participate in the process that butchers an ordinance.”

“Can you walk us through that one change?” Thorpe asked the CAA representative.

She offered a “clean-up item” regarding “the mandatory acceptance of rent in direct violation of state law…when a landlord is in the process of eviction.”

“I’m not supporting any new exceptions,” Torres-Walker reiterated.

Thorpe asked for a motion to postpone.

Ziegler explained the options of continuing the item or adding the one change and bringing back the ordinance for a second reading at the next meeting on August 22.

Torres-Walker chose to make a motion to amend the ordinance and continue the item for a second reading until the next meeting. It was seconded by Thorpe.

“There’s a lot of frustration in trying to get this done,” he then stated. “I think we need to get something down on the books as soon as possible. If there’s something that concerns me, I’m willing to sit down and talk.”

Torres-Walker then asked the acting city attorney to clarify how the council can approve the motion with two council members not available to vote.

“A resolution or ordinance must be passed by a majority of the council members,” Ziegler explained. “But a motion like this only requires the passing on a majority of a quorum.”

The motion was able to be passed 2-1 with Ogorchock voting against.

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