Residents call on City to implement eviction protection measures due to coronavirus national emergency

Story by Noah Kuhn
Associate News Editor

Photo by Katelyn Hernandez
Staff Photographer

The South Pasadena Tenant Union (SPTU) has appealed to the City Council and the City Manager to pass eviction protection measures on Sunday, Mar. 15, in light of the economic consequences of the coronavirus.

SPTU founders Anne Bagasao and John Srebalus have drafted two emergency tenant protection orders for the City Council and City Manager to approve. The ordinance asserts that landlords cannot evict tenants if they show that they are unable to pay rent due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus. It then goes further by asking the city to not shut off utilities like gas, electricity, and water for residents who are unable to pay.

However, the protections do not waive renters’ liability if they don’t pay. Tenants have until six months after the termination of the city’s state of emergency to make up any missed rent. 

The SPTU circulated a press release on Mar. 15, identifying how the virus has financially impacted local renters and has put their housing status in jeopardy. 

“In addition to those sick or quarantined, hourly employees, food service and hospitality workers, parents taking leave to care for children during school closures, students who work part time—many residents are only one paycheck away from potentially losing their homes” Bagasao said in the press release.

Cities such as Los Angeles, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica have already passed emergency ordinances halting eviction in response to the coronavirus. California has also had talks of protecting housing amidst the coronavirus pandemic, with California assemblyman Phil Ting stating on Mar. 15 that he hopes to introduce legislation on a statewide level to protect tenants from the financial hardships.

“California is one of three states with the most cases of COVID-19… At this point, we do not know the extent to which households may be affected with positive COVID 19 cases.” Bagasao wrote in an email. “We are not only facing a health crisis but an economic downfall that will inevitably impact every household in South Pasadena.”

The City Manager has the authority to issue the SPTU’s state of emergency and then enact the eviction moratorium, after which the City Council must affirm the measures within one week. 

Residents have already pushed the city to pass eviction legislation in the past, with the City Council approving an emergency ordinance to ban all unjust evictions in November 2019.

The SPTU hopes for the city council to enact an eviction moratorium at council’s next meeting on Wednesday, Mar. 18 should the City Manager remain indecisive.

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