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Some Chico Renters Displaced Due to Housing Crisis

After the Camp Fire led to a huge demand for housing, many Chico landlords are evicting their tenants to make room for family members, or to sell their homes in the now inflated market.

Posted: Feb 8, 2019 3:44 AM
Updated: Feb 8, 2019 4:55 PM

Chico, Calif. - "When I first saw this place, I didn't even come inside and I said, 'I love this place, it's ours. Downtown Chico, but a neighborhood, cause I have a young one," said Annemarie Parrelli Peters.

Two years ago, Annemarie Parrelli Peters thought she found the home where she'd raise her daughter, and put down roots.

Then, a text from her landlord changed everything.

"She said I'm selling the house, putting it on the market on Monday - this was the day before Thanksgiving- and you'll have the escrow period to get out," said Parrelli Peters. "And I said, there's nowhere to go. There's no other places in town, and you know that I wanted to buy this".

After thousands of people lost their homes in the Camp Fire, the housing shortage in Chico is now a crisis.

"I said 'You just can't throw someone out, I'm a single mom, you really to think about this'," said Parrelli Peters.

With desperate evacuees paying thousands above market value for houses, many landlords are cashing in.

Across Chico, shocked renters are asking for help.

Ann Schwab asked her fellow City Council Members to consider adopting an "Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance", requiring landlords have some sort of reason to ask a renter to leave - like not paying rent or not caring for the property.

Attorney Dirk Potter says it’s actually legal, and 7 California communities - including West Hollywood, San Jose and Berkeley - have passed these types of laws.

But the rest of city council said, no way – too many upset homeowners, who say they have a right to do what they want with their own properties.

"It stirred up a lot of controversies to mandate that property owners not be able to sell their own property - it's just not something that was palatable to our community, they spoke out in large numbers and I think that had an impact on the council," said Mayor Randall Stone.

So what can you do if you're counting the days to eviction?

Attorney Potter says if you're on a month-to-month, all you have a right to is at best, a 90-day notice.

But Schwab's not giving up.

"The North Valley Home Owner's Association and some realtors in the community have come forward to me and said they want to find a solution, not an ordinance but coming from themselves because they care so much about this community," said Schwab.

"Yes, it would be really nice to make a lot of money at once, but in this situation... you have to dig deep, know you're going to do the right thing and it will come back in ten-fold," said Parrelli Peters.

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Thankfully, the wind is cooperating much better today in northern California. Our weather is still quite hot for this time of year and very dry. There is plenty of haze and smoke from the Fawn Fire overhead, and it isn't leaving yet.
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