12 Mar Council President Emeritus Herb Wesson Announces Sweeping Plans to Confront Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the City of Los Angeles
Council President Emeritus Herb Wesson has announced plans to introduce a comprehensive package to confront the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the City of Los Angeles and mitigate its impacts on the local economy at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 17. The package will include a moratorium on rental evictions, mortgage foreclosures, and Department of Water and Power shutoffs, financial assistance for small businesses, and other temporary measures using Council District 10 discretionary funds to support working people during this period of economic uncertainty.
“The time has come to pull out all the stops,” said Wesson. “With so many folks living paycheck to paycheck, or relying on tips or gig work to pay their bills, we know there will be extra stress placed on Angelenos that many simply can’t afford. These common-sense measures will help us keep people in their homes and prevent the even greater public health crisis that mass evictions and foreclosures could create.”
Specifically, the motion calls on the City Council to take the following measures:
1) Request the City Attorney, with assistance from the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) and the Department of Water and Power (DWP), to draft an emergency ordinance implementing a temporary moratorium on evictions, late fees and utility shut offs due to non-payment resulting from a loss of wages caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.
2) Request the City Attorney to draft an emergency ordinance implementing a temporary moratorium on evictions for small businesses under commercial leases, who cannot pay rent due to loss of revenue as a result COVID-19.
3) Request the City Attorney and CAO to report back on a strategy with potential options to work with banks and lenders to halt mortgage payments for individuals who have suffered severe loss of wages due to the spread of COVID-19.
4) Instruct the Chief Legislative Analyst and the Chief Administrative Officer to report with recommendations and cost estimates to create a $750,000 temporary relief fund utilizing CD 10 discretionary funds that would help small businesses in Council District 10 suffering from the outbreak pay their rent.
5) Instruct the Chief Legislative Analyst, with assistance from the CAO and the Housing and Community Investment Department, to report with recommendations to create a citywide rental assistance fund for tenants through the Reserve Fund, Budget Stabilization Fund, or other funding available for this purpose.
In the motion, Wesson cites the strain many families may be experiencing from a sudden loss of income due to COVID-19. These moratoriums would not relieve tenants or homeowners of their obligation to pay their rents or mortgages, but rather would give them the opportunity to stay housed until they became financially stable again.
Wesson’s move comes on the heels of widespread concern of the spread of COVID-19, with governments and organizations across the globe taking major steps to quell what the World Health Organization is calling a global pandemic, the first new outbreak of a pandemic since the spread H1N1 in 2009. In the last several days, the US President has restricted air travel to and from Europe (with the exception of the U.K.), the current National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS) seasons have been suspended indefinitely, and colleges and universities across the country have been moved to on-line classes only.
The motions marks Wesson’s second piece of significant legislation to confront COVID-19 in Los Angeles. At the end of February, Wesson introduced a motion calling on City Department’s to immediately create a multi-language public information campaign to distribute timely, relevant information to residents in the City of Los Angeles.