We made it to the end of April. For many of us, it marks a full month (or longer) of home quarantine, social distancing, and the new normal.
Yesterday’s City Council meeting adopted several significant worker and tenant relief protections for Angelenos who are impacted by COVID-19:
Suspending Costa Hawkins
I joined Councilmember Ryu in calling for a suspension of the state Costa-Hawkins limitation on rent control during the coronavirus pandemic, especially now as unprecedented unemployment and increasing debt as the May 1st rent due date approaches. Costa-Hawkins, passed in 1995, not only limits how California’s local jurisdictions can control rent increases but has also eliminated thousands of affordable apartments from the market, and left thousands homeless. This law also has kept California cities from passing broad measures to freeze rents in place for non-rent-controlled units, even during an emergency.
In fact, it also prohibits cities from enacting rent control protections beyond the level they were at in 1995, which in Los Angeles’ case, means only apartment buildings built prior to 1978 are eligible. The state legislature approved AB 1482 last year which modified Costa-Hawkins to allow a modified form of rent control on buildings not covered by local rent controls that are at least 15 years old. But with unprecedented numbers of unemployed, and the lack of affordable housing even before the Coronavirus emergency, we felt it was important to put a halt to all rent increases before so many more of our residents wind up on the street. Suspending Costa-Hawkins would allow us to do so and be a significant step in helping to protect more Angelenos from further financial hardship due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Protecting Workers with ‘Right-of-Recall’
I voted in support of a citywide ordinance designed to assist those who have become unemployed as a result of COVID-19. This ordinance allows employees with seniority to have first right of rehire, with five days to respond. Employers will be able to notify former employees through writing, email and text messages when work is available again. This ordinance protects Angelenos in hotels, airports, commercial properties, and entertainment venues. Also, I added some modifications that allow businesses to rehire the right employees for the right job not just by seniority. Finally I added mediation and time limits giving employees laid off due to Covid a path to rehire and a way for businesses to get back to work as soon as possible and avoid lawsuits.
Opposing Cuts to Environmental Protection Agency Protections
Council voted to support a Resolution that I authored in formal opposition of the Environmental Protection Agency’s March 26 announcement of gutting environmental protections allegedly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Resolution points out that the federal administration’s use of COVID-19 pandemic is a smokescreen to further remove long-standing Environmental Protection Agency protections which have historically made Americans healthier and safer and that “taking any advantage of the coronavirus crisis to gut environmental protections in a time of a climate emergency and a widespread biodiversity crisis is anti-science, immoral, illogical, dangerous and just plain wrong.”
Emergency Rental Assistance
The Council took an important action to launch an Emergency Rental Assistance program that will help both tenants and landlords during the coronavirus emergency. The program will provide low income renters with up to three months of half of their monthly rent, up to a limit of $1,000 per month. This will help renters whose income has been interrupted by this emergency and it will provide their landlords with cash flow that will enable them to cover at least some of the expenses that don’t disappear while the tenants can’t pay rent. The Housing and Community Investment Department is working on the set-up and funding for the program- no specific start date has been announced yet.
The City Council will return to session on Tuesday, May 5th and Wednesday, May 6th when we will continue to take the necessary actions to protect our fellow Angelenos as well as handle the City’s regular business.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District
In The News:
COVID-19 Health Updates
Testing Now Open to All Residents, With or Without Symptoms
Mayor Garcetti announced that L.A. will be the first big city in America to offer wide-scale, free COVID-19 testing to all residents, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms of the virus.
The online portal where testing appointments are made now enables any resident of Los Angeles County to schedule a test, regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms of COVID-19. Priority for the same or next-day testing is still given to people with symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Testing is also prioritized for medical professionals and certain other critical front-line workers who interact with the public as part of their job duties.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for testing, please visit coronavirus.lacity.org/testing. There has been a tremendous response upon the announcement of the expansion so please be patient awaiting schedule confirmations as the online platform is being scaled up to meet the demand.
Promising Medical Progress in COVID-19 Treatments
Recently there has been a good deal of news about a new experimental drug, Remdesevir, that might help Covid-19 patients recover more quickly and, in general, is positive news. In fact, medical professionals are expressing that while it is not a vaccine for COVID-19, it can significantly lessen the severity and duration of the virus from an average of 15 days to 11 days. However, there is still quite a bit of discussion about the veracity of Remdesevir’s efficacy and the need for expanded study on the drug. However, experts seem to concur that it has a similar effect on COVID-19 as the effect that the influenza drug Tamiflu has on flu. Tamiflu also doesn't cure patients quickly, but can reduce how long they are sick.
Dont forget your flu shot
Regardless of your COVID-19 exposure, medical professionals are highly recommending that everyone stay current on flu shots in order to continue to guard against the influenza virus and to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients.
Paycheck Protection Loans Available for Small Business
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program loan applications this week. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and/or utilities. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether or not it is participating in the program. If you have already applied you do not need to reapply. For more information visit: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/
Planning Back in Action
In keeping with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Safer At Home order to slow the spread of COVID-19, City Planning has implemented new procedures for public hearings and outreach meetings in order to practice proper physical distancing protocols. City Planning commission meetings will now be held telephonically in order to provide continued service to communities and businesses across Los Angeles, allowing for the review of housing applications and other policies that facilitate the City’s short- and long-term economic growth, which will result in the development of new housing units.
The Zoning Administration will begin holding remote public meetings May 6th and this will be an important opportunity to participate in the public comment process. For more information about upcoming hearings and how public can participate, please visit: https://t.co/3pAFfXEeN1
CD5 Sidewalk Repairs
The StreetsLA Crews continue to work hard and have repaired 1,175 sq. ft. of sidewalk located at 540, 535, & 543 Kelton Ave this week. Thank you to the StreetsLA Team for continuing to provide essential services and maintaining, repairing and improving our communities.
Online Lost and Found Pet Portal & Foster/Adoption During Safer At Home Emergency
LA City Lost and Found Pets is a new online resource for LA City pet owners, to help reunite lost pets with their owners. The new page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/LACityLostandFoundPets, will be managed by LA Animal Services. You can submit photos and descriptions of lost or found pets on the FB page.
Although our Animal Services Centers are open by appointment only due to COVID-19, you can still adopt or foster a pet today. Since Center operations were adjusted to align with the City’s response to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in March, 2,232 animals were placed out of our shelters and into foster homes, homes of their own, with rescue partners, and reunited pets with their owners.
If you want to adopt, please follow these steps:
Visit laanimalservices.com/adopt and when you see a pet you want to adopt, call 888-452-7381 with the Animal ID number or A# number (example: A1234567), and we will share all of the information we have regarding the pet with you.
If you want to foster, here are the steps to follow:
We will call you once your application is reviewed to schedule an appointment.
Increased Protections for Domestic Violence Victims During the Pandemic
The Safer At Home orders during the COVID-19 crisis has revealed increased levels of in-home domestic, elder and child abuse reports. What goes on behind closed doors can remain invisible and sometimes be deadly. The City Attorney and District Attorney have launched a 'Behind Closed Doors' campaign, partnering with our grocers and school district, to alert delivery personnel, home repair workers, neighbors, family and friends to immediately text or call 911 if they believe someone needs help.
The public can also report price-gouging, online scams, alleged fake cures and misinformation, as well as in-home crimes like domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse amid COVID-19 at the City Attorney’s office lacityattorney.org/resources or call my office and someone can help get you to someone at the City Attorney’s office.
Please Give Blood
The UCLA Blood & Platelet Center is experiencing a significant impact on the blood supply due to cancellations of blood drives and fewer donors on campus. If you are healthy and able, please consider scheduling an appointment to help patients counting on lifesaving blood throughout this pandemic.
For more information or to make an appointment at a UCLA blood donation center, please visit www.uclahealth.org/gotblood/
Similarly, Cedars-Sinai provides nearly 60,000 blood products to patients yearly. In addition, plasma donations from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may be useful in treating patients with COVID-19. Please visit, https://www.cedars-sinai.org/programs/blood-donor-services.html to find out more about mobile or Cedars-Sinai blood donation center appointments.
Team Koretz Serving As LA City Disaster Workers
Councilmember Koretz staff members have responded to the call of serving our vulnerable Angelenos as LA City Disaster Service Workers, providing support and services to our unhoused neighbors. Thank you Emely Candray and Maria Aguiniga for being our CD 5 Frontline Workers.
Here to Serve
My office, like all City of Los Angeles offices, is following recommended protocols such as social distancing and working remotely to slow the spread of the coronavirus. That said, my staff and I are always readily available to help with your questions, concerns, and needs during this difficult period. We can be reached by phone at 213-473-7005, 323-866-1828 (West LA), or 818-971-3088 (Encino) and through email email@example.com. Since we are experiencing a higher-than-normal volume of calls, feel free to email the staff member you wish to contact directly. The accompanying link contains those e-mail addresses.
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: