Laguna Beach council approves temporary moratorium on evictions for renters in city
Laguna Beach hopes commercial and residential tenants can rest a little easier now that the city is set to provide relief for those who have been financially affected by the pandemic that has swept through the nation.
The Laguna Beach City Council unanimously approved an urgency ordinance for a temporary moratorium on evictions, consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order for those who can’t pay their rent because they have lost work, become sick or had to take care of ill family members due to issues related to the coronavirus.
City staff previously said that the governor’s order does not include commercial tenants and a rent repayment schedule.
A staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting said nothing in the ordinance relieves a tenant of eventually repaying the rent. Tenants must repay landlords within 120 days of the expiration of the governor’s order on May 31.
One resident that called in raised concerns about whether his agreement with some of his tenants to pay a portion, but seek total relief on another portion of owed rent would stand under the ordinance or if it would supersede it.
In a meeting almost exclusively remote with only Councilman Peter Blake physically present in council chambers, Councilwoman Sue Kempf requested the addition of language to the ordinance that would allow for those agreements to stand while Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow said he would like to see language be added to stipulate that tenants must show an inability to pay their rents due to a lack of financial resources to protect landlords.
“You could have a CEO who’s decided to reduce his compensation to $0, but have $50 million in the back,” Dicterow said. “Those kind of situations, they should not be able to qualify.”
Blake agreed, saying he was in support of the ordinance and its protections but added that he didn’t want people tying up landlords if they had money readily accessible through government programs such as Economic Injury Disaster Loans provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration for the expressed purpose of paying fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
Councilwoman Toni Iseman also requested language be added to include mobile home parks as tenants protected under the ordinance.
The ordinance was approved on the condition that amendments proposed by Kempf, Dicterow and Iseman were added. The motion included also sending a letter to both residential and commercial landlords, notifying them of the ordinance pending any changes to reflect the amendments.
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