Long Beach does away with recent tenant-relocation policies, seeks to establish security-deposit program for seniors


Taken from longbeach.legistar.com

The Long Beach City Council voted 8-0 on Tuesday to approve an "urgency ordinance" that would override the Tenant-Relocation Policy that the council had passed back in June. Housing advocates in the crowd who opposed the ordinance held pink signs that read "amend don't repeal."

The Long Beach City Council voted 8-0 on Tuesday to approve an “urgency ordinance” that would override the Tenant-Relocation Policy that the council had passed back in June. The move also called for council to seek funding to establish a security-deposit program for low-income seniors and disabled tenants.

Taken from longbeach.granicus.com
This slide was shown during a Long Beach City Council meeting where officials discussed overriding the local tenant-relocation protection policy to make way for the statewide law slated to go into effect Jan. 1 2020. The slide compares the local law to the new state law.

The City’s reasoning for doing away with the local law was to anticipate the arrival of the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (TPA), which will go into effect Jan. 1 2020. California legislators passed the TPA to offer statewide tenant protections, which Long Beach officials said would make local law inoperable.

Some local housing groups and activists saw Tuesday’s vote as a form of deception, which they claim scaled back months of work to have local law passed earlier in the year.

“To be honest, I’m very disgusted, yet sadly not surprised, that you all would deliberately undermine all the hard work of fellow organizations and community members,” Cynthia Macias, Housing LB board president, said during the meeting’s public comment section.

The key message those opposing the measure kept telling the council was to amend the local law and not repeal it.

After asking City staff to clarify questions about tenant protections and the differences between the state and local law, Mayor Robert Garcia, 2nd District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce and 9th Disctrict Councilmember Rex Richardson said they felt comfortable voting in favor of the ordinance knowing that the state TPA would cover a broader scope of tenants than the local law would.

During the presentation segment of the agenda hearing, City officials said building-permit data showed that the local tenant-protection regulations only covered about 3,311 units, while the new state law would cover approximately 69,299 units.

A city staff report indicated that the local tenant-relocation payments owed by landlords was triggered if rent jumped 10% under the current city ordinance. However, the report shows that payments would be triggered at 5% under the upcoming state law.

Acting City Manager Tom Modica noted that local law did not include restrictions on rent increases, but that the TPA did.

The ordinance also included a a security-deposit program for low-income seniors and disabled tenants, which would be funded via non-General Fund revenue. The council voted to approve the security-deposit program and to discuss funding for it at a later date.

Although the urgent ordinance was passed and would not kick in until the end of December, those opposing the council’s decision harkened back to the passing of the no-fault eviction moratorium, which was approved on Nov. 12.

That decision protected tenants in Long Beach from being evicted without just cause. Housing activists viewed the moratorium as a victory for tenant protections citywide, even though it was temporary and would last until the end of the year.

“Was that done just to appease your conscience because you knew you would repeal tenant relocation [protections] afterwards?” asked Macias. “Do surgery with a scalpel, not a hacksaw.”