At the Feb. 11 meeting of the Long Beach City Council, members discussed whether to close a loophole in the housing law, planned out renovations to the Long Beach Airport and heard public comments from the community.
The city council addressed the ongoing issue of housing in Long Beach by approving a request to draft an ordinance that would close the loophole in the Tenant Protection Act that went into effect earlier this year.
First District Councilmember, Mary Zendejas, sponsored her first agenda item with the intent of addressing the legal loophole that allowed landlords to issue “no-fault” evictions due to substantial remodels.
“One of the reasons why I did this motion is because I’ve been getting a lot of residents coming to the first district with eviction notices and fearful that they’re being evicted unfairly,” Zendejas said. “In the interest of trying to keep things balanced and making sure that everybody is protected under the [law], I’ve decided to bring this item to recommend the city staff draft an ordinance.”
Under the current law, landlords can issue no-fault evictions to tenants if the construction to the property is too dangerous to perform if the apartment or home is occupied, such as electrical work or plumbing.
However, critics argue that some landlords have used the ambiguity in the law’s definition of substantial remodel to evict tenants– even when repairs or reconstruction are not safety hazards.
The proposed ordinance would address the loophole in the act by clarifying the definition of what constitutes substantial repair. Under these changes, cosmetic work, such as painting, decorating or minor repairs, will not be considered significant enough to warrant eviction.
The new ordinance will also require landlords to pay for any permit before construction, along with a full description of the planned construction.
Along with the request to draft the ordinance, the council also placed a freeze on eviction notices that have been issued after Jan. 1– the day that the Tenant Protection Act went into effect.
As renovations at the Long Beach Airport continue, the city council approved a proposal to allow the airport to amend a contract with Swinerton Builders, a construction company in Los Angeles, CA.
The amended contract will include the second phase of the airport’s renovations, which will see improvements to the terminal area of the airport. In accordance with the amendment, the contract amount will be increased by $21,295,013 to a total of $80,104,503.
“Moving forward, phase two focuses on pre-security improvement,” Cynthia Guidry, director of the Long Beach Airport, said. “So, this is everything before passengers arrive [at] the security screening checkpoint.”
The second phase of the project is comprised of six projects, which includes a new baggage make-up area, TSA screening area, a new ticketing lobby and a new concession area. The project is expected to begin soon and will be completed in mid-2022.
In her presentation, Guidry also addressed factors that have delayed projects, such as the increase in construction costs.
“Nationwide, we’ve seen an increase in construction costs across the country and it’s on average about 12%. But here more locally, we’re seeing an increase of about 30 to 35%, and part of that is all the major construction that we have right here in the LA County area,” Guidry said.
She also stated that a large amount of construction across the state also made it hard to secure a fair price for the project.
Due to construction companies competing for other projects, such as the new NFL stadium or the 28 by ’28 Metro program, the airport also received fewer bids than it expected on the renovations.
This also led to the airport being unable to secure a contract at a lower price. In response, the airport decided to move forward on six projects in Phase II of the construction and will revisit the last three in the future.
Robin King, a Long Beach resident, questioned the council about the increase of street sweeping tickets to almost $75, claiming that they were never notified.
In his comments, King stated that his neighborhood is made up of smaller apartments, where parking is limited. King also commented that the ticket amount is especially hard for low-income residents who may not be able to afford the steep price.
“It’s very easy to get a parking ticket in the area, and I just feel like this is a disproportionately large number for residents,” King said. “I think there’s some solution needs to be found for low-income residents [so it does not] hit us so hard.”
Marcel Alonzo, another resident, also expressed support for King’s statements and suggested solutions.
“I would like to offer that our neighbors over in Seal Beach, do not pay as much as we do for a street sweeping violations. They also do not street sweep every single week. I feel like maybe either just like lowering the amount of the fee or perhaps street sweeping slightly less so that we don’t [burden] people,” Alonzo said.
The Long Beach City Council meetings are held on Tuesday, except for the last Tuesday of the month. Council meetings are held in council chambers in the civic center plaza, 411. W. Ocean Blvd.