As is usual these days, a number of measures to help residents and local businesses deal with the COVID-19 pandemic will be on the agenda for the City Council’s meeting on Monday.
One of the most important will be a proposal that the city extend the eviction moratorium for commercial and residential tenants suffering financially because of the pandemic to Jan. 31, 2021. That moratorium is set to expire on Sept. 30. However, a new state law requires that all localities extend the moratorium until at least Jan. 31 of next year.
As detailed in a story published earlier by WEHOville, that state law, Assembly Bill 3088, requires that tenants seeking protection from eviction from Sept. 1, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021 pay at least 25% of the rent they owe during that period. Given that West Hollywood’s current eviction moratorium doesn’t expire until Sept. 30, the requirement that 25% of rent be paid by Jan. 31, 2021, only applies to rent due from October 2020 through January 2021. Those 25% payments can be made on a month-by-month basis or paid in full by Jan. 31, 2021.
The rest of the rent owed, and that owed from March through August, the period covered by the original eviction moratorium, must be repaid in full by Sept. 30, 2021, if the rent is owed by an apartment dweller or by the owner of a small business with 20 or fewer employees. The owner of a business with more than 20 employees has only six months to repaid past-due rent, meaning it must be paid by the end of March next year.
Also on the City Council’s agenda is a proposal to allocate $82,114 to Bet Tzedek, the non-profit organization that provides legal services to low-income people, to assist those threatened with eviction by their landlords. That would augment other funding for Bet Tzedek, increasing it to $458,367.
A memo to the City Council notes that Bet Tzedek has taken on 13 eviction cases involving West Hollywood residents since the program launched in July. “Under the new state law, courts will resume processing eviction cases on October 1, 2020. Pre-COVID-19, city eviction rates typically ranged between 5 to 15%. Although precise eviction rates for West Hollywood cannot be predicted with certainty, early preparation and increased resources are critical. Prior to COVID-19, with more than 25,000 renters, we assumed at least 400 tenants in West Hollywood would require eviction representation each year,” says the memo. “Furthermore, in Los Angeles County it is estimated that 90% of tenants are unrepresented by legal counsel, while 90% of landlords are represented by an attorney. This causes a significant resource and power imbalance in lawful detainer cases. This results in tenants often waiving defenses or their rights and unnecessarily losing their housing.”
Enforcement of Safety Measures at Grocery Stores
Mayor Lindsey Horvath is bringing forth a proposal that grocery stores in West Hollywood have someone assigned during working to stand in the entrance and enforce public health requirements – including wearing face coverings, social distancing, and occupancy limits. Currently grocery stores must limit the number of customers at any one time to 50% of the authorized capacity.
“Some grocery stores have experienced individuals defying public health orders either intentionally or accidentally by not wearing masks, not social distancing, or overcrowding in the stores,” says a memo to the City Council. “Grocery workers report that customers often do not wear masks as they enter stores, and that at certain times of the day stores are too crowded to enforce social distancing. There have been issues throughout California, including the Los Angeles area, with individuals refusing to abide by the facial covering mandates.”
The proposal before the City Council would require that any housing project funded wholly or in part by the city’s Affordable Housing Trust fund allow tenants to have “companion animals” in their apartments until the COVID-19 pandemic is declared to be over.
Posting Notices About COVID-19 Requirements
In response to complaints from local residents about people hosting parties, some in their own homes and some in short-term rental units, Council members John D’Amico and Lauren Meister have brought forward a proposal that the city develop and send a notice to property owners, home sharing license holders, hotels, homeowners associations, local realtors, management companies, and other like stakeholders informing them of the current public health orders that ban gatherings and require face coverings and social distancing while in public.”
The proposal would also require the posting of signs in common areas in apartment and condo buildings and hotels and inside the front door of short-term rental properties stipulating the requirement that people wear face coverings when in public, practice social distancing, and not participate in large public gatherings. There is substantial scientific evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be spread in microscopic droplets from people who are talking to one another or sneezing or coughing.
Participating or Viewing the Council Meeting
The City Council meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. on a virtual platform. The city’s website (www.weho.org/wehotv) is the only official viewing platform for the City of West Hollywood’s public meetings. To afford the public with a multitude of viewing options and in order to expand access to public meetings, broadcasts are also available as a courtesy on local cable television and multiple streaming platforms. However, because they are a third party and operate independently from the City of West Hollywood, their reliability cannot be guaranteed. Broadcasts of public meetings can be found on Spectrum Cable Television’s Channel 10 within West Hollywood’s borders. Digital streaming platform viewers can easily find programming by searching for “WeHoTV” within the search functions of the following services. Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and YouTube.
If your video or audio device has buffering or streaming issues while accessing the live feed, access the meeting at the City’s website www.weho.org/wehotv for updated information and troubleshooting tips for your device and visit www.weho.org/councilagendas for information on how to participate by phone. If you are having difficulties connecting to the meeting you can also call (323) 848- 3151.
To Participate By Emailing a Comment
To better facilitate the remote meeting, members of the public who wish to comment on matters before the city council are encouraged to submit a comment electronically using the form located at www.weho.org/councilagendas by no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, the day of the meeting. Comments received by 4 p.m. will be forwarded to the City Council and posted on the city’s website as part of the official meeting record.
To Offer Public Comment by Telephone
Those who want to make a comment by telephone during the meeting are asked to email City Clerk Yvonne Quarker at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 4 p.m. Monday, Council meeting day, to be added to the public speaker list for the meeting. Please include your name, the phone number from which you will be calling, and which item you would like to speak on.
Then, dial-in ten minutes prior to the start of the meeting (the meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.). You will be placed on hold in the virtual meeting room until it is your turn to speak. The dial-in number is (669) 900-6833 and the meeting I.D. is 974 8186 3267, then #