A member of the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America decorates his car with signs calling for the cancellation of rent in Long Beach. The protest caravan traveled through East Long Beach on Sunday, April 5, 2020. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

The Long Beach City Council voted Tuesday to craft an ordinance extending the ban on COVID-19 related evictions and giving tenants months longer to pay back-rent to landlords if they miss payments.

Assuming a final version of the ordinance passes when it comes back for a vote, landlords will now be forbade from evicting tenants financially impacted by the pandemic through July, and renters will have until July 2021 to repay any full or partial payments missed prior to that point.

The original moratorium had allowed renters to miss their March and April rents and gave them until November 2020 to repay the balance. The new ordinance, which could be voted on as early as next week during a special meeting of the council, is expected to include language that encourages renters to pay partial amounts of rent during that time but doesn’t require it.

That request came from Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce who introduced the item and said that making mandatory partial payments part of the ordinance could open up renters to evictions.

The moratorium would also extend to commercial properties with the exception of large companies (500+ employees), those that are publicly traded, multinational entities, and those renting from the Port of Long Beach, Long Beach Airport or in the city’s tidelands area.

“It’s my hope that at the end of this vote that we have support for tenants but also for property owners,” Pearce said.

The late-night vote came after a long discussion where other council members tried to tweak the item to include language mandating partial payments.

Councilwomen Suzie Price and Stacy Mungo advocated for this in an attempt to shrink the potentially large “balloon payments” that could face renters next July if they don’t pay during the moratorium widow.

A motion that would have required up to 50% of the total missed rent be repaid within six months of the end of the moratorium failed in a 4-5 vote.

The council’s vote to extend both their moratorium and the repayment window will put Long Beach more in line with the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, both of which have already extended their ordinances protecting renters from eviction.

The state of California will soon consider legislation that could help offset the losses seen by landlords through missed payments during the eviction moratoriums passed by local governments.

State legislators could vote on a bill that would offer tax credits to landlords equal to the amount of rent they lost during the pandemic and would require tenants to repay the state for those tax credits over a 10-year period.

Tuesday’s vote came amid the backdrop of the announcement by county officials that it is aiming for a re-opening of the region by July 4, potentially providing an opportunity for more people to go back to work and begin making regular rent payments by the time the city’s new moratorium expires.

Long Beach has its own health department, so it’s not required to follow the county’s plan, but it often moves in unison with the region.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.