Tenants receive eviction notices in the midst of pandemic; City Council may be able to help

On Friday, March 13, the Trump administration declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That same day, tenants at two buildings managed by the same property company received eviction notices telling them to vacate within 60 days, at a time when government and health officials have been directing households to shelter in place.

WestStar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One resident, who received a notice to vacate along with two other units at their Ocean Boulevard building in Alamitos Beach, said tenants were traumatized.

This isn’t the first time these tenants have received notices, either.

In February, they received a notice just before the City Council voted on an emergency ordinance that mandated all evictions citing substantial remodeling to be void until property owners obtained building permits and provided information on the scope of work.

When Westar Property Management Inc. sent out the notices on Friday, they cited “intent to substantially remodel” as the reason and while they included the scope of work they intend to do they didn’t provide a copy of a building permit, instead showing an inspection record.

Despite not showing building permits, construction crews continued to work, jackhammering, sawing, hammering and drilling between 8 a.m. to about 5 p.m. nearly every day.

At WestStar’s other managed property on 64th Street in North Long Beach, six units received similar notices on Friday—the third attempt from the company to evict since last fall.

They, too, have reported construction crews working at their building without showing the required permits.

“What WestStar is doing is inhumane,” said Norbeto Lopez, director of Long Beach Residents Empowered, who has been helping the tenants. “How can you evict vulnerable residents when people are losing their income or their jobs due to the pandemic.”

Tenants may get another respite, though.

The Long Beach City Council will consider an emergency ordinance tonight that would keep people in their homes for 30 days or until emergency proclamations are lifted.

“Let’s not add to the stresses families are facing during this crisis by exacerbating their already strapped resources,” Councilman Roberto Uranga said, explaining his support for the item.

On Monday, the state made such actions allowable by local governments as well.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order authorizing local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slow foreclosures and protect against utility shutoffs for Californians affected by the coronavirus.

“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19,” Newsom said. “Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices—but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians.”

The City Council will meet virtually at 5 p.m. tonight. For more information click here.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. Growing up as one of six kids in the working-class immigrant suburb of South Gate, she was taught the importance of civic engagement and to show compassion for others. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015. An avid Harry Potter fan, Stephanie now lives in Bixby Knolls with her boyfriend and their bearded dragon, Austin.
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