Coronavirus: City to consider adopting rent protection order

Generic Sign on the front lawn of City Hall. February, 26, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council is expected to consider adopting a rent protection order next week as many residential and commercial tenants have been faced with unemployment due to a statewide directive that has temporarily closed multiple workplaces. 

“(We’re planning) to place a rental protection ordinance that is very similar to what has been adopted by the county of Los Angeles on the agenda for a special meeting in order to ensure the residents of the city of Santa Clarita have the same protections as those in the unincorporated area of the valley,” Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth said on Wednesday. 

Smyth would like to see the order in place prior to April 1, he said. 

The decision to meet comes after Los Angeles County signed an eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent last week for renters impacted by the novel coronavirus. 

The order, which is expected to last through May 31, only applies to the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, meaning that in the Santa Clarita Valley, only areas outside of city boundaries would qualify. 

California has not established statewide rent protection, but Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that he would grant counties and cities the authority to establish their own eviction moratoriums rather than issue a ban for the whole state. 

On Wednesday, Newsom said that California “has a unique set of circumstances” when it comes to considering a statewide moratorium on evictions of renters and that, for him, “it’s practice, not promise,” adding that he is working with a legal team to attain “clarity on those legal parameters.” 

Last week, city officials said they were already reviewing various ordinances and the need for a protection order in the local area. 

Part of the current challenges in making swift responses is that Santa Clarita’s system of governance requires a City Council vote when establishing ordinances, but with health orders to stay at home and practice social distancing when outside, normal operations can take a little longer. 

“I don’t have the same authority as Mayor Garcetti, who can unilaterally implement an order,” said Smyth. “Here in Santa Clarita, it takes a vote of the council and it was important that we are executing this in complete compliance with new state guidelines around public meeting laws and restrictions that are currently in place.” 

The meeting is expected to take place at City Hall, which usually live streams its public meetings, sometime early next week. 

For all local coronavirus-related stories, visit: signalscv.com/2020/03/covid-19-coverage-summary.

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