Long Beach could extend its eviction moratorium through August

Long Beach’s eviction moratorium could be extended through the end of August if the City Council approves the move Tuesday night, just weeks before the current moratorium is set to expire.

The council originally adopted the eviction moratorium in March to shield residential and specific commercial tenants from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The original ordinance expired at the end of May but was extended to run through the end of July.

A proposal by Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce could extend it once more through the end of August if the council approves Tuesday. The item already has support from councilwomen Suzie Price and Mary Zendejas.

Back rent—any partial or missed payments—between March and the moratorium’s end would still be due by the end of July 2021.

“We are in the heart of pandemic crisis. Today the governor closed more businesses giving way to more instability and uncertainty,” Pearce said in a text Monday. “People deserve relief. From renters to property owners.”

She added that the ordinance was still not enough and that more renter protections were needed from the state level to protect property owners and ensure that everyone can stay safely at home while the pandemic continues to upend the local and national economies.

Tuesday’s item was added to the council’s supplemental agenda late last week, days before Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the closures of more businesses due to rising COVID-19 transmission rates in the state.

The rollback of openings will strip workers of incomes that they recently had reacquired when businesses like restaurants, barbershops and gyms were allowed to reopen or expand openings last month.

Whether to extend the city’s moratorium was a point of discussion last week when the council opted to put off a decision while  waiting to see what the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors would do with its own eviction moratorium.

The board, which meets weekly, has yet to add the issue to an upcoming agenda. It’s also unclear how the county ban would apply to Long Beach tenants and whether city officials would have to coordinate with the county to add the commercial tenant carveouts it worked into Long Beach’s ordinance regarding properties at the port and airport.

“The idea of waiting for the county is a political calculation, not a decision based on the reality of how renters are suffering,” Pearce said.

A number of statewide bills are also under consideration by the legislature. Assembly Bill 1436 would be similar to actions implemented in Long Beach but would bar evictions of tenants for 90 days after the statewide emergency order is lifted and would give renters a year to pay their back rent.

Others working their way through the legislature could freeze evictions while letting courts set repayment plans. Another proposal, Senate Bill 1410, would create a taxpayer-financed fund to cover 80% of missed rents if landlords forgive the balance.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday night but those wishing to participate in public comment must sign up here by noon Tuesday.

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.