As we continue to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is challenging to pause for a moment and think about the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day yesterday. The Safer At Home emergency response has rewarded us with cleaner air, bluer skies, stars at night, and images of wildlife enjoying the solitude in natural areas free from human crowds. Even though we may be home and online, I will push to continue to move forward to address the Climate Crisis and to also foster healthier communities. That is why I introduced legislation to the City Council to officially make “essential” all the City’s services related to climate emissions reductions and climate emergency resilience. In the face of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, which is having massive impacts upon the global economy, as well as the City’s budget, necessary plans are being made for City services to be cut and workers furloughed. It is essential that we do everything in our power to address the health and economic threats of COVID-19 and I am proud to be part of the effort led by our Mayor, Eric Garcetti and his team, who are working so hard towards that end.
Yesterday we held a 12-hour special City Council meeting which included going over the pandemic’s impacts on our economy, housing, and public health. During our meeting the council passed additional eviction relief funding for those in need, protections for RSO units including 360 days after the emergency is lifted, and protections for workers. In addition, I introduced several new motions including more expansive rent relief for small businesses. Next, I requested a comprehensive report back from County Health and City departments to look deeply into implementing better COVID-19 safety measures for the public as well as suggestions for a plan to address these issues as we move forward. Lastly, I will continue to work with the Emergency Management Department to continue to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change under the prism of the COVID-19 crisis.
However, I am concerned that while we take every necessary step to combat COVID-19 and regain some semblance of normal daily activity in our lives, we can not get distracted, even for a moment, from the even larger, more dangerous and more insidious threats of severe climate disruption and mass extinctions. We must not lose focus of the important efforts we have been working on for years in partnership with the Mayor’s office, City departments, our biodiversity panel of scientists and experts. In turn, their efforts will contribute to the future of our beautiful Los Angeles full of mountains, coastline, oceans, trees, rivers and wildlife on the ground and in the air. Continuing to protect our Earth is the key to protecting ourselves as well as future generations and the natural world which sustains us all from the devastating impacts of severe climate disruption.
Finally, I wanted to let you know that there is a heat wave coming our way. While I know it will be tempting to get outside, maybe go to the beach and find outdoor ways to cool off, please remember that LA City parks and County beaches are still closed as necessary precautions under the Safer at Home directive. So stay hydrated, stay cool and please Stay at Home.
FROM THE DESK OF JEFF EBENSTEIN
DIRECTOR OF POLICY & LEGISLATION
On Wednesday, April 22, the Los Angeles City Council held a very productive, very long meeting during which a number of important issues were addressed and Councilmember Koretz was in the thick of several of them.
A freeze on rents in Rent Stabilized units - The Council voted to codify the rent freeze imposed last month by Mayor Garcetti and opted to extend it to 360 days after the coronavirus emergency order is eventually lifted. It was previously only to be in effect for 90 days after the end of the order..
Emergency Rent Assistance - The Council approved a proposal for Emergency Rent Assistance to be offered in conjunction with Councilmember Koretz’s Eviction Defense Program (coming soon to the City Council for final approval). The rent assistance will be available to low income tenants to cover 50% of their monthly rent up to a cap of $1,250. Details of the program will become available soon.
Right of Recall - "Right of recall and worker retention” ordinance, authored by Councilmembers Bonin, Koretz and Harris-Dawson, was approved to provide guidance to employers and employees as businesses begin to re-open in the coming months. It requires furlough and laid-off workers to be hired back by seniority within their employment class. At Councilmember Koretz’s insistence, the Council added some very common sense additions like mediation between the employee and employer to avoid litigation.
LAX vendor relief - The City will provide rent relief for business at LAX as long as vendors continue to provide healthcare to employees.
Federal rent and mortgage relief - The council passed a resolution supporting Federal legislation to forgive and cancel rent and mortgages.
Eviction protections - While the proposal did not pass, Councilmember Koretz supported stronger tenant protections that would have expanded the range of evictions prohibited by the City’s current emergency ordinance. This issue is expected to be discussed further at future Council meetings. New Motions - Councilmember Koretz introduced several new proposals during the meeting for future consideration:
- More expansive rent repayment relief for small business tenants, co-presented with the Council president.
- A request for a comprehensive report-back from County Health and City departments to truly take a deeper look at implementing more and better COVID-19 safety measures.
- A proposal to work with emergency management to continue to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change under the prism of the COVID-19 crisis.
Emergency Senior Meals Response Programs
To meet the growing needs of our seniors during this moment of crisis, Mayor Garcetti announced the launch of the Emergency Senior Meals Response program that will provide meals to thousands of qualifying seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.
To qualify for the new program, recipients must be 60 years old or older, live in the City of Los Angeles, and not currently enrolled in any other meal programs, like Meals on Wheels or CalFresh. Seniors or their caregivers can sign up by calling the Emergency Senior Meals Response hotline at (213) 263-5226, Monday - Sunday from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Join the 2020 City Nature Challenge
Join an international effort to identify nature in our cities. The challenge is a chance to help naturalists learn more about the wilderness at home.
Learn how to be a Safer At Home Naturalist by visiting the natural History Museum’s website at https://citynaturechallenge.org/
Proper Disposal of Used Gloves and Masks
It's incredibly sad when you're out and about to see used gloves and masks carelessly discarded on the ground. LA Sanitation has put together the flyer below, and we hope you'll help spread the word that fabric masks should be washed and reused when possible and single-use gloves and masks should be disposed of properly in a trash bin.
LA City Planning Commission Hearings Now Available Online
The Los Angeles City Planning Commission meetings will now be held by teleconference starting this week. Resuming these meetings remotely is one way City Planning continues to provide service to communities and businesses across Los Angeles under the current stay-at-home orders. Remote commission meetings keep processes running that are crucial to Los Angeles’s economic and housing needs, such as the review of housing applications.
Public hearings were temporarily postponed in the days immediately following the Governor’s Stay-at-Home orders in order to allow cities to develop protocols to conduct remote hearings. Since then, City Planning has held its first Cultural Heritage Commission meeting remotely and resumed City Planning Commission meetings today.
“Teleconferencing commission meetings is one way City Planning continues to provide essential services while safeguarding the health of Angelenos,” said Director of Planning Vince Bertoni. “As public servants, we are sworn to serve our community, and at this moment, holding virtual public meetings and workshops will serve our community best.”
Directions on how to listen in and provide input will be sent to interested parties in advance of each meeting. All presentations and materials related to any agenda item will be uploaded to Google Drive prior to each hearing for ease of access.
In the coming weeks, City Planning will hold additional public hearings remotely, including Area Planning Commission and Design Review Board meetings,and virtual public hearings for project and policy applications will follow shortly thereafter.
For the latest information, consult the Commissions, Boards, and Hearings page or the dedicated COVID-19 dedicated page on City Planning’s website.
Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Sidewalk Repair Program Public Review Period Extension December 26, 2020 to May 31, 2020
The City of Los Angeles has prepared a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to evaluate the potential environmental effects of the proposed Sidewalk Repair Program that addresses the manner in which sidewalk repair projects are undertaken pursuant to the City’s obligations under the Willits Settlement Agreement. The City is requesting input on the Draft EIR from public agencies, residents, and other interested project stakeholders. Also, the Draft EIR public review and comment period has been further extended until May 31, 2020.
The Draft EIR is available online at https://sidewalks.lacity.org/ where one can also review a public meeting PowerPoint presentation and submit comments on the web at: http://sidewalks.lacity.commentinput.com/
If you prefer, comments can be submitted by e-mail to Shilpa Gupta at firstname.lastname@example.org and please include "SRP DEIR" in the subject line; and also include a mailing address in the comment letter.
Or via postal mail:
Environmental Supervisor I
City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works
Bureau of Engineering, Environmental Management Group
1149 S. Broadway, Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90015-2213
LADOT Transit Announces New Social Distancing Measures on Buse
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, LADOT Transit has begun to limit the number of passengers that are allowed on board DASH buses at any one time. Moving forward, 30-foot buses will be restricted to 10 passengers each and 35-foot buses will be limited to transporting 12 passengers each. LADOT is committed to the safety and protection of transit drivers and users, and will be instituting this policy to ensure that proper social distancing practices are maintained while transit services continue to operate. Also, LADOT will continue to closely monitor all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that may apply to its transit services.
In addition to this new passenger safety policy, LADOT Transit continues to provide fare-free, backdoor boarding on all DASH buses while observing a temporarily modified service schedule for all DASH and Commuter Express routes. For up-to-date information on routes and schedule, please visit ladottransit.com.
Resources to Cope with Emotional and Mental Distress
The daily news and isolation around COVID-19 can take an emotional toll. Whatever your situation, please remember that resources are available to help cope during these stressful times. For updated information, please continue to visit https://corona-virus.la/resources:
LAUSD Families: Counselors and mental health professionals are available to LAUSD students and families. To connect with a counselor, please call (213) 241-3840. The hotline is open weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
||The Crisis Text Line provides free 24/7 support for a crisis counselor Text HOME to 741741. Please visit their website for helpful tips and more information.|
||The Veteran Crisis Line provides confidential 24/7 support to veterans, service members, National Guard and National Reserve personnel, and the friends and family of military personnel. By calling the Veterans Crisis Line, you will reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255, or visit the Veterans Crisis website at veteranscrisisline.net for more information.|
||The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis rsources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. To reach the Lifeline, please call 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org|
||The outbreak of COVID-19 impacts each person’s mental health in different ways. No matter how you’re feeling, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health has supportive services available. Please visit their website at dmh.lacounty.gov for more information. For 24/7 help, please call their access line at (800) 854-7771.|
||For Mental Health Coping Strategies re Coronavirus, please call the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or by e-mail email@example.com (Available Monday - Friday, from 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) A Covid-19 information and resource guide is available at https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide |
I know these are really confusing times and that new information is changing quickly, so please continue to check and verify official information through these credible resources: