Long Beach Extends Emergency Ordinance for Renters Affected by COVID-19

28 May

The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously in favor, on Tuesday, May 19, to amend and to extend the emergency ordinance, halting evictions for residential and some commercial tenants affected.by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Robert Garcia, according to the press release on the extension of the emergency ordinance, said, “We are seeing the unprecedented economic impacts that this pandemic is having on our residential and commercial tenants in Long Beach.”

“The extension of this emergency ordinance provides relief to those… most at risk of eviction and possible homelessness during this challenging time.”

The amendment extends the eviction moratorium and rent deferment an additional 60 days, to July 31, 2020. Protected tenants will have until July 31, 2021, to pay all delayed rent to landlords without incurring late charges and other fees. Tenants are encouraged to establish a payment plan for installments of deferred rent over the repayment period. 

If tenants can’t pay rent between March 4 and July 31, 2020, due to a reduction in income caused by COVID-19, they must notify their landlords that rent will not be paid on time. Tenants are required to provide documentation of substantial income losses caused by job layoffs, out-of-pocket medical expenses or requirements to stay at home due to COVID-19.

Through July 31, 2020, landlords issuing rental nonpayment notifications must include information about the City’s emergency ordinance to ensure that tenants are aware of their rights.

The amendment does not apply to large commercial tenants that are multi-national or publicly traded companies and companies with 500 or more employees, tenants at the Long Beach Airport, tenants in the Harbor or tenants in the Tidelands areas. The City and its commissions will work with these tenants, case-by-case to address the pandemic-related impacts and negotiate appropriate rent deferments or other accommodations.

Additionally, the City Council is exploring assistance for property owners impacted by COVID-19, including foreclosure relief, property tax refunds, and the possibility of a revolving loan fund.

Long Beach Residents Empowered, in an email of Thursday, May 21, said, it was “(s)till unclear if the undocumented community will qualify.” 

Ashley Salazar, Legislative Assistant for the 8th District Councilman Al Austin, by email, said, “Landlords are legally not able to inquire about the immigration status of their tenants, according to state law. Tenants in Long Beach would need to provide documentation of COVID-19 impact to qualify for the Emergency Ordinance for Renters. The documentation required only needs to show that there was a financial impact due to COVID-19.” 

The other eight Councilmembers didn’t respond to a request for comment regarding the undocumented, legal or illegal.

The City Council first adopted an emergency eviction moratorium on March 24, 2020 amid the COVID-19 outbreak.  The original emergency ordinance with the amended language may be found at http://longbeach.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8561735&GUID=0AADA91C-A190-47ED-9BE2-8218CB5C18A0.

The first version of this story had no response from the Councilmembers. The story was updated to reflect the added quote from Councilman Austin’s office.

City of Long Beach Announces Offices, Places of Worship, In-Person Retail May Reopen with Distancing Restrictions

27 May

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, on Wednesday, May 27, by email, announced offices, places of worship and in-person retail may reopen, with distancing restrictions.

The revised order details requirements and restrictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Establishments must implement and post a Retail Physical Distancing Protocol prior to reopening.

All in-store retail operations and office-based businesses must: Maintain physical distancing to the maximum extent possible, including retail can only open up to 50 percent of maximum capacity and office-based businesses are strongly encouraged to still prioritize telework; Enact cleaning and disinfecting protocols, including frequent hand washing; Require face coverings when in close contact with other people; Maintain the means to identify cases of illness and intervene quickly; Make worksite-specific plans for operating during this public health emergency and train employees on these plans.

All places of worship are required to: Limit attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower; Discontinue self-service food and beverages. 

Potlucks or family-style eating and drinking events aren’t allowed.

The updated Health Order to be posted later includes other changes to align with the County and California’s Resilience Roadmap for Stage 2 related to vehicle-based parades, shopping centers, and in-person religious services and cultural ceremonies. 

Pools in private multi-unit residences or part of a homeowner’s association may now open with physical distancing. Drive-in operations, including entertainment and restaurants, will be allowed but subject to City-issued permits.

Los Angeles Justice Organizations, In the Wake of the Pandemic, Demand ‘People’s Budget’ Funding Services, Not Police

22 May

A coalition of Los Angeles justice organizations, on Tuesday, May 19, held a virtual town hall meeting by Zoom featuring Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles activist Melina Abdullah, Julianne Malveaux and Pastor Stephe “Cue” jn-Marie to demand a “People’s Budget” to fund services, not the police.

Mike de la Rocha, of Revolve Impact, which according to its website, “combines policy advocacy, grassroots organizing and broad-based communications strategies to directly improve the lives of millions of people,” moderated.

De la Rocha, who is the founder and CEO of Revolve Impact, in his opening remarks, said, “Today we plan to discuss with leading organizers and intellectuals what a budget that reflects the needs of the community looks like.  This includes services for unhoused (sic) Angelenos, including housing in the thousands of empty hotel rooms throughout our city, more mental health services, rent suspension and forgiveness for the 55 percent of Angelenos who are currently unemployed, so they don’t have to go back to work in unsafe and potentially deadly environments, more funding for education and a lot more.”

Abdullah, who holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Southern California, said, “(B)y overspending on police, the Mayor is cutting every other department… So, every other department is facing a 10 percent cut to its bottom line… At a time when houselessness (sic) is soaring…he is cutting the spending for housing…(W)hen we talk about crime or so-called crime, we know the best way to address it is by prevention and intervention work and he has cut the budget….(I)t’s everyone else other than police who will be harmed.  We also know more spending on police leads to more brutality and harassment and police killing.”

Abdullah, who teaches at California State University Los Angeles, added, “This is a healthcare crisis with an economic fallout.  So, we don’t need police responding to something they don’t have any expertise or business doing.  Instead, why don’t we employ unemployed people?  Have them go to the grocery stores, and hand out masks and gloves…. We can really make an impact that is positive on communities.”

Abdullah, who is one of the founders of BLM-LA, argued the city’s budget process was undemocratic because “this is the first time ever that the budgeting process did not go through the City Council’s Budget Committee.  So normally, people would have a chance to weigh in at multiple points of engagement…This time he sought to have the budget process fast tracked.”

The Pastor of the Row Church, also known as the “Church Without Wall,” said, “Historically communities, such as skid row have been underfunded… and LAPD has been overly funded … $100 million was allocated toward homelessness in Skid Row …for a number of years and 85 percent of it went to law enforcement.”

Malveaux, holds a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, “We know that this pandemic has done so many things to so many people.  We know that …50 percent of those who are dying are black and brown.  We know that we’re on the frontlines.  We are the people who basically stock the grocery shelves.  We are the people, the CNAs, Certified Nursing Assistants, who help the hospital.  We’re the people who are doing the work. We’re driving the buses…but they’re being starved, so we can have more money for policing.”

Malveaux, who is a past president of Bennett College, added, “I think that we need to look at this pandemic as an opportunity to look at all inequalities that exist in our society.  The people who have been celebrated have been the elite.  The people who have not been celebrated are the people at the bottom.”

According to the press release for the event, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a city budget that expands LAPD funding by nearly $50 million for a total of $3.15 billion despite clear and measurable decreases in crime; with this budget, the city will spend 54 percent of its general fund on the LAPD, while other departments experience furloughs, pay and budget cuts limiting critical care capacity and necessitating cuts to the essential services.

The coalition, which sponsored the event, included Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, ACLU-SoCal, Justice LA Coalition, Dignity and Power Now, People’s City Council Los Angeles,White People for Black Lives, Ktown for All, DSA LA, Ground Game LA, La Defensa, StopLAPD Spying, LA Voice, Students Deserve, Sunrise Movement Los Angeles, and Africa Town.

According to the People’s Budget website, the coalition Mayor Garcetti was “trying to push his budget through a vote next Thursday, May 21.”  The coalition was asking the vote to be delayed.

The video of the virtual town hall is available at the People’s Budget website, https://peoplesbudgetla.com/.

The Los Angeles City Council voted, Thursday, May 21, to refer the budget to a committee, according to a press release of the People’s Budget Los Angeles. The coalition called it a “victory.”

Audio of Virtual Town Hall—Los Angeles Justice Organizations Demand ‘People’s Budget’ Funding Services, Not Police

20 May

The town hall featured: Black Lives Matter Los Angeles activist Melina Abdullah, who holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Southern California; Julianne Malveaux, who holds a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Pastor Cue jn-Marie, who is the founder of the Church Without Walls and a former rapper; and the moderator was Mike de la Rocha, who is the CEO of Revolve Impact, which according to its website, “combines policy advocacy, grassroots organizing and …communications strategies to directly improve the lives of millions of people.”

A news story will be posted later.

Below is the audio.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia Announces ‘Open Streets Initiative’

20 May

Mayor Robert Garcia, by email on Tuesday, May 19, announced the City Council approved what was called an “Open Streets Initiative,” to repurpose temporarily some public spaces, like sidewalk, off-street parking and large parking lots into spaces for physically distanced retail and possibly entertainment.

The email said, “Over the last few weeks, we have heard from so many small businesses which are hurting and want to reopen but are worried about how to do so safely. All across the world, we are seeing cities and small businesses work together on outdoor dining and other uses of open space to spur economic activity, support community building and a sense of normalcy we all crave while physically distanced.”

He assured moving forward would be done when “it is safe to do so” and added “with the right setup” more pedestrian and bicycle spaces will also be created.

He attached the slide deck, which was part of the presentation to the City Council.  It can be viewed at http://longbeach.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8445660&GUID=4E4CA873-1619-4A32-A6A5-31ACC4512176.

Senior Biden Campaign Adviser Tony Blinken Speaks on ‘The U.S.-Israel Relationship in a Biden Administration’

18 May

Senior Biden Campaign Adviser Tony Blinken spoke, by Zoom and Facebook Live on Monday, May 18, on “The U.S.-Israel Relationship in a Biden Administration” for the Democratic Majority for Israel.

According to the American Academy of diplomacy, Blinken is “managing director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and the Herter/Nitze Distinguished Scholar at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies” and “held senior foreign policy positions in two administrations over three decades—including Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama administration.”

DMFI’s mission, according to its website, states, “We will work to maintain and strengthen support for Israel among Democratic leaders including presidential and congressional candidates as well as with the grassroots of progressive movements. We are committed to doing so because we recognize that America’s relationship with Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East, is a mutually beneficial one based on shared values and shared interests.”

Blinken was introduced by Mark Mellman, the President and CEO of DMFI.  The moderator was Rachel Rosen, who is the Communications Director for DMFI.

Below is the audio of Blinken’s talk.

Senior Biden Campaign Adviser Tony Blinken spoke, by Zoom and Facebook Live on Monday, May 18, on “The U.S.-Israel Relationship in a Biden Administration” for the Democratic Majority for Israel.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia Addresses ‘Misinformation, Questions’

15 May

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, in an email Thursday, May 14, addressed “some misinformation and questions,” the city received.

He said Long Beach has reopened all retail and storefront business it’s allowed under State Law and many folks want the City to open restaurants and barber shops. He said the City can’t because “(i)t’s not allowed under State Law. Once the Governor announces the next stage of openings – only then can we look at health indicators and begin reopening.”

He said while the City has its own Health Department, “(T)he State Health Orders supersede our city and any county orders…. (W)e can’t move faster than the State allows.”

He acknowledged the State has an expedited track to reopen restaurants more quickly and pointed out, “(T)he Governor set it up for rural counties with few to no deaths and cases. Long Beach does not qualify” nor does “LA” does and nor does “Orange County.”

He added, “So instead, we use the baseline State Health Order as guidance. The Order allows for retail curbside pick up (sic) and some recreation.”

He also said, “Long Beach is currently in Stage Two. We can go no further on retail or restaurants until…the State modifies it’s (sic) Health Order and…our health indicators remain flat with no large spikes” and added, “Reopening decisions within a Stage are made with the recommendations of doctors and health officials. Our local officials talk daily with LA County, California, and CDC experts and scientists.”

Long Beach to Resume Street Sweeping with Parking Enforcement, Citations

Meanwhile, the City of Long Beach, in a press release of Wednesday, May 13, announced street sweeping-related parking enforcement, after nine weeks of amnesty for street sweeping citations, will resume on Monday, May 18.

While over the past two months street sweeping has continued in areas it could, in many neighborhoods, the lack of street sweeping access has led to an accumulation of sediment and debris jeopardizing the City’s ability to meet national standards for clean waterways.

Street sweeping is a critical health service, collecting thousands of tons of debris each year and eliminating pollutants from washing into the ocean or river. Streets can only be swept effectively when cars are out of the sweeper’s path.

Since May 4, Department of Public Works employees have placed reminders in English, Spanish, Khmer and Tagalog on vehicles that haven’t been moved during street sweeping. The reminders advised residents available parking resources across the City and to let people know enforcement would resume on May 18.

The parking amnesty was put in place as an economic relief plan for residents during the COVID-19 health emergency. As part of continuing efforts to address parking impacts caused by COVID-19, the City of Long Beach made over 4,000 parking spaces available. These spaces are citywide. A full list of parking options is available http://longbeach.gov/parking/covid-19-street-parking-relief/.

Resident parking, by permit, will continue until further notice.
Residents may call 562.570.INFO with questions.

For the latest information on COVID-19, with details on all that the City of Long Beach is doing to keep its residents safe, visit http://www.longbeach.gov/COVID19.

Long Beach Reopens its Beaches

13 May

The City of Long Beach, on Wednesday, May 13, according to a press release issued the day before, reopened all its public beaches for recreational use for swimming, kayaking, walking, running, kitesurfing and other similar activities.

Mayor Robert Garcia said, “The reopening of our beaches signifies a step towards more opportunities to enjoy our open spaces.”

“I know that many in our community have been looking forward to more recreation and I’m urging everyone to continue practicing physical distancing so we can continue moving forward safely.”

The beaches will open daily from sunrise to sunset for individuals or members of the same household.

While restrooms are open and will be disinfected regularly, people must physically distance.

Rosie’s Dog Beach will reopen and the City’s dog parks will reopen as well.
Beachgoers and those visiting the dog beach and dog parks must: stay at least 6 feet from others at all times except for members of the same household; avoid crowded areas; wear face coverings when near people, except one’s household or in solo physically distanced exercise; provide physical distancing of at least 6 feet or more when passing others; continue moving, without lingering, except for brief rests; stay home if sick; wash or sanitize your hands regularly, before and after visiting beaches and parks.

Gatherings of any size are prohibited at all beaches and parks, including, but not limited to, events, athletic competitions, youth camps and recreational programming. Chairs, canopies, coolers, grills, sunbathing or any similar stationary activity on the beach or in parks is prohibited. Playgrounds remain closed.

Parking lots and the pier will remain closed to the public except for residents who have special parking permits.

Long Beach Airport Requires All Passengers, Employees, Visitors to Wear Face Covering

12 May

Long Beach Airport announced, according to a press release of Tuesday, May 12, it is requiring all passengers, employees and visitors to wear a facial covering on airport property, which is in line with the City of Long Beach’s current “Safer at Home” order and guidance from public health experts.

Courtesy of the City of the City of Long Beach

Mayor Robert Garcia said, “As the economy slowly reopens and the public begins to travel again, we want to ensure the safest possible experience for all passengers.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a facial covering that covers the nose and mouth when in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Examples of appropriate facial coverings include bandanas, neck gaiters or cloth masks with ties or straps. It is important to note facial coverings are not a replacement for physical distancing and frequent hand washing.

Long Beach Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said, ““Our partners at Long Beach Airport have come together to provide a consistently safe environment, while maintaining the comfortable experience our customers have come to expect.”

“We look forward to seeing more passengers but are grateful the public is taking the health order seriously and avoiding non-essential travel. LGB is ready to welcome your return.”

All five airlines serving the airport, as well as concessions and rental car companies, now require facial coverings for customers and employees. Transportation Security Administration officers at are also required to wear masks. Officers may ask guests to adjust or remove face coverings during the security screening process.

Besides requiring facial covering, the airprot LGB has additional safety measures, such as new disinfecting protocols and floor decals to create physical distancing. 

For the latest information on COVID-19, with details on the City of Long Beach is doing to keep its residents safe, visit: longbeach.gov/COVID19 and follow @LongBeachCity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Long Beach Reopens Beach Bike and Pedestrian Paths, Tennis Centers

11 May

Long Beach announced, Monday, May 11, according to a press release issued the day before, the reopening of the beach bike and pedestrian paths, tennis centers and courts in parks with guidance for their use.

Mayor Robert Garcia said, “We know our community has been anxious to get back outdoors. While our beaches are still closed, like many of you, I am looking forward to the beach bike and pedestrian path opening up… Please remember to practice physical distancing so that we can continue to make more places available.”

With the reopening these safety rules must be followed for beach and pedestrian paths and tennis centers.

For beach and pedestrian paths, stay at least six feet from others not members of your household; avoid crowded areas; do not gather in groups or linger except for brief rests; face coverings are required when in close contact with others but not required while engaging in physically-distanced exercise; while beach bathrooms are open, beaches and beach parking lots remain closed.
All tennis centers before reopening must implement a Tennis Physical Distancing, which may be found at: http://longbeach.gov/globalassets/health/media-library/documents/diseases-and-condition/information-on/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-business-toolkit-pages/tennis-physical-distancing-protocol.

Pro shop is allowed for curbside pickup only. Restaurants and concessions are for takeout only. Park parking lots will also reopen. Public parks are open for walking, running and biking. Social gatherings and picnicking are not allowed in the parks or park parking lots.

Meanwhile, Long Beach’s southern neighbor, Seal Beach, according to the Associated Press, reopened its beaches for running, walking and surfing, Mondays through Thursdays only, while closed on the weekends.