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Seeking an eviction moratorium in coronavirus pandemic, protesters target Garcetti’s house

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Housing activists held a drive-by protest at Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s residence Wednesday morning, honking their horns and shouting from their windows to urge him to pass a blanket moratorium on residential evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

A parade of about 20 vehicles circled Getty House in Windsor Square for more than a half hour, snaking around the block until Los Angeles Police Department officers arrived and parked two large vehicles in a nearby intersection.

LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein said traffic could still flow in the area. “According to a supervisor on the scene, the patrol vehicles partially blocked the intersection to control the flow of traffic, ensuring safe travels on the street,” Rubenstein said. “Cars were not blocked.”

After police parked in the intersection, a crowd of more than 40 housing activists then took to the sidewalks in front of Getty House. “It’s not a real moratorium,” protesters yelled. “No wages, no rent,” others shouted, while some held signs that read, “Freeze all rents.”

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Albert Corado, 31, who came from Atwater Village to join the protest, said he was frustrated by the city’s new eviction policy, arguing that what the mayor and L.A. City Council have done doesn’t go far enough.

“What the city has done is really ineffectual,” Corado said.

It’s unclear if Garcetti was home during the 7 a.m. protest. His spokesman, Alex Comisar, said that the mayor and L.A. City Council have “taken quick, aggressive action” to freeze rents and prevent evictions during the crisis.

“The mayor stands with all Angelenos and he will continue taking every possible step to support them through this emergency,” Comisar said.

The City Council last week approved a temporary ban on evictions for renters who are unable to pay rent because of the coronavirus. The council also waived late fees and gave renters up to a year to pay back rent after the city’s emergency order for the pandemic expires.

Council members, however, rejected a blanket ban on all evictions. Instead, to qualify, renters who are unable to pay rent must demonstrate how they have been harmed by the coronavirus, which critics say is too onerous a task given that many may be unable to get tested for the coronavirus or see a doctor.

Renters may also have a hard time proving that their work hours were cut, for example, because of the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic.

Garcetti went further this week, announcing that landlords would not be allowed to increase the rent for tenants who live in apartments that fall under the city’s rent stabilization program. The announcement covers about 624,000 apartments and it’s unclear how many of those units would have been subject to annual rent increases during the pandemic.

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Organizers said that Wednesday’s protest was expected to attract members of L.A. Tenants Union, Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, NOlympics LA and other groups. The protesters said they want a moratorium on all evictions during the crisis, complete rent forgiveness and/or rent suspension, and the immediate use of hotel and motel rooms to provide permanent housing to unhoused residents.

Protesters held a similar rally outside Garcetti’s residence Sunday.

Separately, tenant activist groups held “rent strike” protests in several cities Wednesday, vowing to skip payments because of the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic.

Times staff writer Liam Dillon contributed to this report.


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