Long Beach City Council approves new protections for Long Beach workers

Mayor Robert Garcia speaks during a Long Beach City Council meeting on Sept. 10, 2019.

At its April 14 teleconferenced meeting, the Long Beach City Council appointed a new city manager, discussed COVID-19 relief and ratified the March 3 election results. 

City Manager
The council voted unanimously to approve Tom Modica as the new City Manager for Long Beach. 

Modica has been working in the position as acting city manager since the resignation of the former city manager, Pat West, who resigned in late 2019. 

He previously worked under Pat West as an assistant city manager. 

In his comments, Mayor Garcia thanked Modica for his almost 20 years of service to Long Beach and applauded him for all the work he has done since the beginning of the health crisis. 

“Mr. Monica, […] your handling of the COVID crisis has been impressive and stellar, and you’ve done a great job and really risen to the occasion in this crisis,” the mayor said. 

Councilmember Rex Richardson echoed this statement and described the decision as prudent, considering the ongoing pandemic. 

“I’m pretty sure not many new city managers [could] walk into a crisis and be able to lead the organization, and what you’ve been able to do is truly impressive, and we have a lot more ahead of us,” Richardson said. 

In his comments, Modica thanked the mayor and the rest of the council for the appointment and their leadership. 

He also thanked his team, who he says work hard every day to provide the best support to Long Beach residents. 

“Our mission really is just to make Long Beach a little bit better each and every day, and that’s something that they really excel at,” Modica said. 

Election Results
The council voted to adopt three resolutions regarding the March 3 elections held in the 2nd, 6th and 8th Districts. 

The first resolution calls for the City Council to declare the results of the Primary Nominating Election held on March 3. 

The second resolution was for the council to declare the results of the Special Election held on the same date for the two ballot measures submitted by the City– Measure A and Measure B. 

Measure A was passed by voters, but by a narrow margin of 16 votes. The vote will allow the tax to extend past its original sunset date of 2027. 

Measure B passed with more support, a margin of 20%. 

The final resolution is to order and give notice for the General Municipal Election, which will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Three councilmember seats from districts 2, 6 and 8 will be up for grabs. 

A seat on the Long Beach Unified School District Governing Board will also be in contention. 

Worker Relief
The city council voted to move forward on a series of protections for workers in Long Beach. 

The issue was a complicated issue for the council, who debated on specifics of the bill and how the law would affect small businesses and local workers.  

One of the measures would provide the right for hospitality and janitorial workers in the hotel industry to return to their jobs at the end of the health crisis. The initiative will apply to workers who were let go or had their hours cut back.  

Another measure will also require hotels to prioritized Long Beach-based employees by placing them at the front of the line when businesses begin to re-open. 

Additionally, the council voted to approve a measure that businesses with a presence in Long Beach with at least 500 employees nationally provide 80 supplemental hours of sick for employees.  

This ordinance will not apply to businesses that were closed due to the health order. 

The council will officially vote on the measures when the City attorney returns with a revised ordinance. 

Housing Inspections and fees
Due to the ongoing health crisis, the city council voted to have the City manager to work with other departments to work on a suspension of the Proactive Rental Housing Inspection Program (PRHIP) and business-related fees.

The recommendation initially called for a suspension of business licensing renewal fees. Still, during the meeting, council members discussed expanding the suspension– due to the inability of many landlords and businesses to make a profit during the shutdown order. 

Additionally, the recommendation also requested that the city manager looks into providing more financial relief for residential and commercial owners impacted by COVID-19.

During the discussion, Linda Tatum, director of the Long Beach Development Services Department, stated that the City will still be responding to calls regarding safety concerns.

The PRHIP’s function is to ensure apartment buildings are inhabitable and meet the standard set by the City’s municipal code. Inspections are done through reviews by the City. 

“Let me clarify, [the City] is still responding to complaints regarding health and life safety issues,” Tatum said. “It’s just that they’re not going out and doing the routine proactive PRHIP inspections. But we are doing the proactive life and health safety for PRHIP and for any other code enforcement complaints that we receive.”

Evictions
After weeks of debate, the council officially voted to declare an ordinance temporarily prohibiting evictions until May 31, 2020. The new directive goes into effect immediately.

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