Supes discuss additional coronavirus-related relief

Los Angeles County Seal.
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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors addressed extending coronavirus-related protections, among other issues unrelated to the pandemic, during Tuesday’s meeting. 

With three separate motions addressing rent and mortgage relief due to COVID-19, the Board of Supervisors approved the extension of the eviction moratorium until June 30, with monthly re-evaluations to provide further extensions, as well as the implementation of a rental-assistance program. 

“This eviction moratorium … is one of the major tools in the county for keeping us healthy, because those who can be evicted of course will be out on the street,” said county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents the 3rd District. “It seeks to ensure a basic level of protections across the county.” 

This motion also instructs county counsel and the director of Consumer and Business Affairs to complete an analysis of how the county could amend the eviction moratorium to help ensure that tenants receive these protections.

That being said, the Board of Supervisors also approved a second motion that will exclude commercial tenants that are multinational, publicly traded or have more than 100 employees from the moratorium starting June 1.

“At a time when resources are limited, it’s imperative that we focus our efforts to help the most vulnerable populations and those most in need of our support,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. “I really do believe that we have an opportunity here to provide hope to many right now that are feeling hopeless.”

This motion is also expected to require commercial tenants that have 10 or more, but less than 100, employees, to pay their landlords in equal installments within six months following the end of the moratorium, unless otherwise agreed upon by those parties. 

A third approved motion is set to give some mortgage relief, requiring financial institutions already providing or seeking county banking business to disclose, within 30 days, the institution’s contributions to meeting the county’s goal of offering mortgage relief during the COVID-19 emergency.

“This can easily be a zero-sum game with neither renters, or mortgage holders, having the resources needed to prevent foreclosure in the months to come,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the 2nd District. “So, the banking industry needs to operate with immediacy and resourcefulness so that we … can weather this very, very trying storm together.”

The final related motion would send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the county’s legislative and congressional delegations, in support of a comprehensive rent and mortgage forgiveness program for residents impacted by COVID-19.

This program would ensure that no property owner or renter is required to make mortgage or rental payments, or accumulate interest, late fees or other housing-related debt, for the duration of the health emergency.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors adopted policies aimed at protecting workers in the janitorial, maintenance, security service and hospitality industries as businesses begin to reopen. 

The first ordinance, “Right of Recall,” ensures that workers who were laid off during the pandemic are given the first right of recall to their jobs, when their employer is ready to bring employees back.

The second “Worker Retention” ordinance ensures that workers would get to keep their jobs in the event the business they work for gets sold because of the pandemic.

These ordinances would only apply to hotels in unincorporated areas of the county that contain 50 or more guestrooms or have earned gross receipts in 2019 exceeding $5 million, as well as businesses that employ 25 or more janitorial, maintenance or security service workers, though any of these employers that have a collective bargaining agreement in place would be exempt.

In other business

In addition to COVID-19-related matters, the Board of Supervisors approved the final tract maps for the Mission Village subdivision of the 21,000-home Newhall Ranch housing development, which call for homes to be built between Interstate 5 and the Ventura County line, and between Highway 126 and the Santa Susana Mountains.

The Public Works Department was also given the go-ahead to solicit bids for improvements to the Castaic Animal Care Center, which is set to include a new, 400-square-foot covered vehicle wash rack, replacement of damaged asphalt in the parking lot and 12 additional parking spaces for customers and staff.

In March 2019, the board approved the project, with a total project budget of $1.25 million, $900,000 of which was allocated to construction, while Public Works’ final fair construction cost is now estimated to cost $786,000.

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