By Signal Staff
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to extend and expand emergency renter eviction protections through 2023.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, cast the lone dissenting vote, saying the move is “bad policy” that unfairly places the cost burden on landlords, many of whom are community-based “mom-and-pop” property owners who, like their tenants, have been hit hard by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The bottom line is public health experts are advising that we are not going to have to return to measures that restrict people from being able to work,” Barger said in a prepared statement. “By voting to continue the eviction moratorium, we are legislating for the exception, not the norm. We are creating rules purely in anticipation of a scenario that is highly unlikely. This is bad policy.”
She noted the current 78% full vaccination rate among L.A. County residents, the availability of boosters and the widespread opening of all economic sectors as proof that the county is “effectively living with COVID-19.” Barger also cited the upcoming 2022 Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium, which is expected to bring in considerable local revenue, as proof that the county has achieved a level of normalcy and should not impose emergency economic protections.
The statement from Barger’s office also quoted Diane Robertson, co-founder of the Coalition of Small Rental Property Owners, as saying the protections approved by the supervisors unfairly place the burden of pandemic protections on property owners who are not protected against the lost income.
“No other business sector has been forced to do what we’ve had to do for almost two years now – renters don’t even have to present any proof of financial hardship,” said Robertson. “The decision to extend this moratorium totally disregards us landlords who are just like our renters. We live in the same communities, many times in the same rental properties. We rely on our rental income to live. What kind of protections and support are available to us?”
The motion approved by the board was authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, who said it’s an important step to help prevent additional county residents from becoming homeless.
“No county residents should be forced to face the prospect of homelessness because they’ve been hit by this pandemic,” Kuehl wrote on her Twitter account. “Our board wants the county’s renters, many of whom faced income loss and illness during the pandemic, to have enough time to recoup their pandemic-related losses, to secure repayment subsidies available from the state, and to be able to pay back their landlords.”
Barger introduced a separate motion in response to the board’s extension of the eviction moratorium, to offer landlords financial support. The motion, co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, explores the feasibility of forgiving property tax payments for landlords who are unable to collect rent from tenants.
“It has become clear to me that our county does not have enough skin in this game,” Barger said. “This board is asking landlords to shoulder a burden for those who have been impacted by COVID-19. We should also be willing to bear the same burden.”