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TimesOC: With eviction ban ending, a big O.C. city aims to protect renters

"Sign up for our TimesOC newsletter" and the L.A. Times logo over the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset.
TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Friday, Sept. 24. I’m Ben Brazil, bringing you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

As the statewide eviction ban is set to expire next week, one of Orange County’s largest cities gave initial approval to stronger protections for renters.

Following a long meeting, the Santa Ana City Council narrowly took a step toward curbing rent hikes and providing more eviction protections. This is a long time coming, as Santa Ana residents and grassroots activists have been fighting for renters’ rights for decades, wrote my colleague Gabriel San Román.

If Santa Ana gives final approval in early October, it will be the only city in Orange County to adopt rent control protections for renters in both apartments and mobile home parks.

The densely populated city is largely made up of tenants. San Román reported that many of them are rent burdened, dedicating at least 30% of their income to their rent.

A mother and her child stand outside their apartment in Santa Ana.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The rent control ordinance would cap rent increases at 3% annually on apartments and mobile homes, but landlords may ask the city manager for an exemption if it prevents a reasonable return on their property. The eviction ordinance limits when landlords can kick tenants out, covering tenants who have lived on a property for 30 days, which is much stronger than the state’s occupancy requirement of 12 months. It would also require eviction notices to be served in the same language as the lease agreement.

The ordinance would also allocate up to $300,000 for the creation of an eviction defense fund.

The council will need to vote on a second reading of the protections, though that won’t happen until after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s eviction moratorium expires on Sept. 30.

“The struggles of Santa Ana renters are too big to continue to ignore,” Councilwoman Jessie Lopez said. “Low wages and high rents are the clamps that squeeze the working class of its earnings.”

Residents also showed up to speak at public comments.

Elsa Ayala, an 18-year resident of the city, said she has been the sole earner of her household since her husband suffered a stroke five years ago. She has two children.

“If my rent is raised, I won’t be able to pay it,” Ayala said in Spanish. “I’m going to have to take my children out of school to work. I don’t want to.”

MORE NEWS

The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians in Orange County have been fighting to gain federal recognition for decades. It’s been a tough battle, with the tribe being denied by the federal government in 2011. But a new leader believes she can lead the tribe forward.

Heidi Lucero, the new chairwoman of the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The controversy of short-term rentals continues to pervade local governance in Orange County. Earlier this year, Huntington Beach decided to allow short-term rentals to exist in the city as long as they have a permit. But that permitting process has been moving extremely slow. This week, Reporter Matt Szabo wrote that the City Council decided to extend a deadline to delist unpermitted short-term units until more property owners can have a chance to get their permits.

The Assistance League of Newport-Mesa plays a crucial role in supporting families with school supplies, food or dental health. Reporter Lilly Nguyen wrote this week that the local chapter of the national nonprofit stepped up over the last year and a half as the pandemic caused parents to lose their jobs. “We helped 1,500 kids this year, which is 50% more than last year in the same time period. That just goes to show how much of a need was here and that everybody rallied to the challenge,” said Linda Colleran, the Newport-Mesa’s chapter vice president of philanthropic programs. “It was fun and exhausting.”

For years, Irvine residents have complained of potentially toxic fumes and foul smells coming from an asphalt facility near their homes, claiming that it causes respiratory symptoms and could cause chronic illnesses. A state senator has taken notice of the issue and the city seems likely to make some moves to address the fumes.

LIFE AND LEISURE

Earning a nod from the Michelin Guide is one of the greatest honors in the restaurant business. Six Orange County restaurants have earned prestigious Bib Gourmand awards from the guide, which is given to establishments with excellent food and reasonable pricing. Reporter Sarah Mosqueda spoke with a few of the restaurant owners this week. They said that earning the award was all the more meaningful because of how hard it has been for the restaurant industry during the pandemic. “Everybody in the restaurant industry has been on quite a ride the last two years,” said Gabbi Patrick, Chef/Owner at Chaak Kitchen. “And we all know that it takes hard work and a great team. We are just so thrilled that Chaak can be a part this recognition.”

Who is John Klass? Well, he’s a logistics manager from Huntington Beach who made his debut on “Jeopardy!” this week. Klass finished in third place with $3,000. That would be pretty good except there are only three contestants and the first place finisher claimed $36,200. Still, Klass had a good time. “It was definitely a bucket list moment for my life,” Klass said in a phone interview Wednesday. “But it also was very fast. It was a blur.”

John Klass of Huntington Beach, right, is shown on the set of "Jeopardy!" with host Mayim Bialik.
(Courtesy of Jeopardy Productions)

If you like flying model airplanes, then you can thank the Costa Mesa City Council this week for preserving a flying field at Fairview Park. For now, the field is off-limits to most hobbyists due to concerns about the aircraft disrupting wildlife. Pools at the park contain endangered fairy shrimp, which are fed on by a number of rare bird species that migrate, winter and breed in Fairview.

An executive chef and oncology dietitian have teamed up to start a new video series about making healthy eating easier, specifically aiming at cancer patients. The series is being filmed at the Leonard Cancer Institute’s McDermott Family Kitchen in Mission Viejo. “We often come up for a theme for the episode and then Chef works on some recipes and then I come in and kind of put an oncology spin on it,” said oncology dietitian Kailey Proctor. “So we focus on symptoms that patients have and help manage that with the recipes.”

SPORTS

The Newport Harbor boys’ water polo team routed Corona del Mar this week, putting on a show for those watching the rivals compete. When the 13-3 game ended, students jumped into the water to celebrate with the team. Reporter Matt Szabo wrote that Newport Harbor is now tied in first with Huntington Beach and Mater Dei.

Angels manager Joe Maddon supports star player Shohei Ohtani for the Most Valuable Player award. “Ohtani is the MVP,” Maddon said. “It’s just his entire body of work. Everything is there regarding what he’s done as a position player, but then you have this other thing, this additive to include, that nobody even comes close to.” Reporter Mike Digiovanna has the story.

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches in the fourth inning.
Angels star Shohei Ohtani is in the running for MVP.
(Getty Images)

Check out this roundup of high school sports scores from reporters Andrew Turner and Matt Szabo. The action includes volleyball and tennis matches from around Orange County.

OPINION

Columnist B.W. Cook detailed the festivities at a Make-A-Wish fundraiser at the Bowers Museum that raised more than $400,000. More than 300 guests showed up to the nonprofit’s annual event, including Make-A-Wish America chief executive Richard K. Davis. The event invites top chefs in Orange County to create unique dishes for patrons.

A reader from Huntington Beach wrote about the need to have more respect for motorcyclists. “We are tired of being categorized as unworthy of sharing the road with autos and are routinely pulled out in front of by people rolling through red signals or too busy on their phone to regard a motorcycle as ferrying a human life,” he wrote.

Question of the Week

Orange County is a big, diverse community with a bustling entertainment and tourist industry. Yet the county has major hurdles to overcome — homelessness, climate change, political corruption and law enforcement misconduct. Oh, and a pandemic. We want to hear your opinions on these subjects!

Each week, we’ll ask you a new question and post some of the answers in the following newsletter.

Last week, we asked you: Should homeless services provider, Mary’s Kitchen, be allowed to stay at its current location? Why or why not?

Here are a few responses we got:

“Please save it.” —Laurie Kluge

“Mary’s Kitchen should definitely be allowed to stay open, The organization did everything to meet the requirements of the city, to no avail. It provides necessary, humanizing services to over 300 adults per day. Has it been proven that those getting services at Mary’s Kitchen are the folks committing crimes? There are crimes near restaurants and bars. Does the city close them down? This is an attempt by the city to sweep away the homeless and make the problem go away, Guess what, the problem isn’t going away. Perhaps the homeless should move away to some upscale neighborhoods to sleep.” —Ada Hand

“They do good work at Mary’s Kitchen, but better still would be to expect the clients to cook, serve and clean up the site. All this well-intended generosity with zero expectations creates dependency and does attract some people who will take advantage of the generosity. I am for closing Mary’s Kitchen. I would hope that a new program that includes simple shared housing and expectations of chores (like a co-op) will take its place.” —Kathy McMorries

Now for this week’s question (please keep your answer to 75 words or less):

With the eviction moratorium expiring in California, should Orange County cities consider rent control and eviction protections? Why or why not?

Send your answer to Ben at benjamin.brazil@latimes.com.

Stay in Touch

If you have a memory or story about Orange County, we would love to read it (please keep your story to 100 words or less).

We want your help in making this the best newsletter it can be. Send any tips or comments to benjamin.brazil@latimes.com or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

Keep up with community news on our Orange County page. Follow us on Twitter at @timesocofficial.

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