LB councilmembers to consider the creation of an urgency ordinance to address tenant harassment

Illustration by Emma DiMaggio

Update: This item was removed from the city council agenda for Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Councilmembers Mary Zendejas, Jeannine Pearce and Roberto Uranga will recommend the creation of an urgency ordinance to address tenant harassment at next week’s city council meeting.

“In the past few months, there have been increased and significant reports of tenant harassment from tenants throughout the city of Long Beach,” states the proposal submitted by Zendejas.

According to the proposal, over half of renters in Long Beach spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

“Long Beach renters are disproportionately Latino, African American, Cambodian and Filipino. Moreover, COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting our Black families,” the letter states. ”Creating this ordinance will prevent thousands of families from facing harassment in their homes.”

If the recommendation is approved, City Attorney Charles Parkin will bring a draft of the ordinance back to the council at its Sept. 8 meeting.

Infographic by Emma DiMaggio.

Tenant rights have been a hot topic in Long Beach long before the pandemic.

In late 2019 and early 2020, the Long Beach City Council passed a slew of ordinances protecting residents from unjust evictions stemming from a loophole in the Tenant Protection Act of 2019.

The loophole allowed landlords to evict their tenants under the guise of “substantial remodel,” though this term was flexibility interpreted by landlords for evictions that only loosely abided by the law’s standards.

Once the pandemic began, the council went on to pass an eviction moratorium and a rental assistance program for those financially affected by the pandemic.

During recent budget discussions, advocacy groups and residents have called for the City to implement a right to counsel for all renters.

Originating from the Long Beach People’s Budget Proposal, the request calls for the City to provide both legal resources and representation to all renters, regardless of immigration status.

In a Budget Oversight Committee meeting on Aug. 25, Director of Financial Management John Gross said that Mayor Robert Garcia recommended an allocation of $250,000 for renter’s right to counsel.

The allocation has yet to be approved, as the final budget hearing will come to the council in the coming weeks.

The proposal to address tenant harassment will be discussed by the council during their next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 5 p.m.

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