Smith calling for PPP loan extensions and flexibility

Assemblywoman Christy Smith speaks on the Elected Official Panel during the Regional Center Legislative Town Hall at Bella Vida SCV Senior Center on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, and other California Assembly members are asking the state congressional delegation to grant loan extensions and flexibility to the Paycheck Protection Program. 

The program has authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“However, it has come to our attention that the terms around loan forgiveness will unfairly penalize business unable to reopen. We write to humbly request your consideration of an extension or flexibility on the eight-week forgiveness requirement for reopening,” read the letter. 

For small businesses that applied for PPP funding as soon as it became available, the end of the eight-week period could be coming as soon as the end of May, the letter added. 

In a news release Monday, Smith said local business owner Lisa Eichman of Gymnastics Unlimited, in Santa Clarita, is among the many expressing concern about the upcoming deadline and said, “it’s clear this arbitrary and untenable time frame adds more harm to local businesses.” 

“As the owner of a gymnastics school who is unable to operate while the ‘Safer at Home’ orders remain in place, we are prevented from seeing any benefit from the forgiveness features of the PPP. An extension with provisions to use the funds will be critical for us to begin planning how we can safely reopen and get back to providing much-needed activities for more than 1,200 school-age children in our community,” Eichman said in the statement. 

In the letter, Assembly members said requirements should reflect the regional challenges in the form of extensions, hold on the deadline or flexibility in when the eight-week period begins, or deadlines based on the ability of small businesses to reopen safely.

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, who was sworn into office Tuesday in Washington after his win in the 25th Congressional District special election, was unavailable for comment on the Assembly members’ efforts. 

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