Story by Sofia Alva
Photo by Katelyn Hernandez
The city council voted 4-1 against establishing its own protections for residential and commercial tenants and property owners at their meeting on Wednesday, May 6.
The new resolution included language requiring tenants to provide documented proof of financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak, unlike the broader Los Angeles County order which did not. The original March 18 eviction moratorium will now sunset and the L.A. County executive order will go into effect.
Mayor Pro Tempore Diana Mahmud was the only council member in favor of the adoption, citing that L.A.’s order does not provide protection to landlords and that many senior members of the community depend on income from properties.
Councilmember Marina Khubesrian however, voted against the resolution, explaining that adopting the broader L.A. County ordinance would ease the work of City Hall employees and that she trusts that most tenants will work with landlords and not take advantage of L.A.’s protections.
“I’m hoping that tenants and landlords will understand that they are mutually dependent on each other and that they need to make it work… and need to help each other out,” Khubesrian said. “I have to go with the conviction that most landlords are working with their tenants and most tenants are trying to their best and catch up on their rents.”
The current eviction moratorium adopted by South Pas and L.A. County in March does not require tenants who are unable to pay rent to provide proof of loss of income to landlords. If passed, the adoption would have made these documents mandatory to provide, which many residents strongly opposed in the public comment section of the meeting.
“The City’s eviction protections are plainly aimed at protecting owners, not tenants,” City Clerk Maria Ayala read from a submitted petition. “Not only do the changes undermine broader County-wide protections, they create a confusing patchwork of rules for landlords and tenants alike.”
Residents opposed to the city’s own protections also stated that requiring proof of a loss of income is not ideal or doable for all South Pas residents.
“The people who need this moratorium are those who are in precarious financial situations, and those same people would have the most difficulty meeting these stringent documentation requirements,” resident Jacqueline Li said. “This can be difficult for freelancers, self-employed and undocumented workers or folks who make ends meet doing odd jobs.”
The city council also adopted a resolution approving the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program for the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year and the CDBG-CARES Act Supplemental Allocation Program. CDBG is a program in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that aims to provide low and moderate-income residents with decent housing, suitable living environments, and expanded economic opportunities.
The CDBG Program for the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year will include an annual allocation of $24,998 for senior meals and $216,567 for public sidewalks and ADA ramps for the city. The CDBG-CARES Act, in particular, is a supplemental one-time allocation of $75,528 effective May 2020 through September 2022 for the Senior Nutrition Program. The program will provide around 500 meals a week to 80 seniors including weekend boxed lunches.
“[The CDBG-CARES Act] will allow home-delivered meals to be provided free of charge to some of the most vulnerable in the community,” CDBG employee Marisol Romero said.
The city and community have organized multiple resources for homeless and vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the pandemic’s implications continue to hit South Pasadena hard, with the city hitting 100 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths.
The city council hopes to begin local social and economic recovery, with select retailers soon being able to reopen beginning on May 9. Coronavirus planning and updates will continue at the city council’s next meeting on Wednesday, May 13.