When Glendale officials again extended the city’s residential eviction moratorium this week, it was clear that they also are looking with more urgency for guidance and relief from Sacramento.
When the latest extension goes into effect Tuesday, Sept. 1, it becomes Glendale residents’ only protection from eviction, as the state Judicial Council’s pause on taking up eviction proceedings in courts is ending. The extension to Sept. 30 itself coincides with the expiration of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order allowing cities to implement the eviction protection measures.
Newsom, however, has indicated he may revisit that executive order if the California Legislature fails to enact any relief bills by that time, according to City Attorney Michael Garcia. One Assembly bill “under strong consideration,” Garcia said, would implement a statewide moratorium and include mortgage forbearance provisions for rental property owners as well as single-family homeowners.
Another bill that would have the state assume the rent debt of tenants unable to pay because of COVID-19 pandemic-related reasons and reimburse landlords with tax credits has been shelved for the current session, Garcia added.
So for now, the City Council again has added 30 days to the residential eviction moratorium, the freeze on rent increases and the requirement to wear face masks when in proximity with others in public and while inside businesses. The eviction moratorium protects only tenants who can show financial hardship related to the pandemic. The council took action at its meeting Tuesday.
“I’m OK with continuing the mask order,” Councilman Ara Najarian said. “I’m OK with the rent freeze. I’m very grudgingly OK with extending the moratorium for another 30 days.
“My problem is, so far,” he added, “is there hasn’t been any relief for the housing providers. It’s been maybe six months that some of them have been providing housing without any payment — not by every tenant, but by a few. And a few, out of a six- or eight-unit building, not only are they not going to make a profit, but they’re going to start falling behind on their mortgage payments.”
It is unclear exactly how many residential tenants in the county have found themselves unable to make rent because of job loss or increased health-care expenses, although some studies indicate that a majority are able to pay rent still. Additionally, rent prices, particularly in premium units owned and run by management companies, have started to fall in recent months to attract tenants out of pricier locations, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Glendale in July used a lottery system to award rent relief to 380 applicants, with funding coming both from local sources and grants; such money also was used to assist businesses with their own expenses. Los Angeles County also used $100 million in funding for its own rent relief lottery, which included Glendale residents in its application pool.
In related news, this week saw Glendale surpass more than 3,000 reported cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic was declared in March; as of Friday, the city had confirmed 3,038 cases throughout that time, with 161 deaths from the disease.
Though Glendale is the fourth most populous city in the county, numerous other mid-tier suburbs have exceeded the city in raw numbers of COVID cases and certainly on a per capita basis. However, outside of Los Angeles, no others have had more deaths, a fact attributed to the city’s large number of skilled nursing facilities.
Still, restriction and mitigation measures seem to be working.
Since adopting a fine schedule for mask violations, police officers have issued at least 25 citations, according to Glendale Police Chief Carl Povilaitis. The city also committed to an outdoor, or al fresco, dining program, with numerous areas sectioned off by concrete K-rail barriers — including along Brand Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue — and others located in private parking lots and structures.
Although cases in Glendale, like the rest of the county, spiked significantly during July and early August, as of this week the city’s seven-day average of daily new cases has hovered around 25; it had approached 40 at its worst. Additionally, daily hospitalizations throughout the county are down 45% from July and average daily deaths have fallen from 44 to 28.
“I’m happy to report some fairly positive information,” Bill Lynch, deputy chief of the Glendale Fire Department, told the council on Tuesday. “We’re moving in the right direction.”