Alameda County has filed a motion asking a federal judge to rule in its favor in the California Apartment Association’s lawsuit challenging the county’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium that was in place for nearly three years.
CAA filed the lawsuit, which alleges that the moratorium violated property owners’ constitutional rights, in 2022 when the moratorium was still ongoing. Though the county lifted the moratorium last spring for rent that came due after April 2023, the ordinance still prohibits eviction for rent that came due while the moratorium was in place.
The court previously rejected CAA’s “facial” claims in the lawsuit, which were subject to a very stringent standard requiring the court to find that “no set of circumstances exists under which the [ordinance] would be valid.” That ruling, however, did not foreclose CAA’s “as-applied” claims, which allow the court to consider the narrower question of whether the moratorium, as it actually impacted rental housing providers, violated the Constitution. It is these remaining “as applied” claims that the county now seeks to have decided in their favor. In legal terms, a “facial” challenge asserts that a law is unconstitutional in all its applications, whereas an “as applied” challenge contends that the law is unconstitutional in specific circumstances or applications.
In short, the county argues in its motion that it had the legal right to enact the moratorium and that, even if individual landlords can prove they suffered harm as a result, those harms are not legally compensable. CAA has opposed the county’s effort in a written brief. The court is scheduled to take up the matter in a hearing on Feb. 1.