City Council Preview: March 18 | COVID-19 Emergency Proclamation and Tenant Protection on Agenda

City of South Pasadena follows suit in imposing strict health regulations as many California regions do the same

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Mayor Michael Cacciotti

The City of South Pasadena on Wednesday is poised to adopt a resolution proclaiming a local emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak and adopting regulations—some enforceable by fines up to $1,000–on the size of public and private gatherings and closing a set of public and private facilities, including bars and theaters.

The city will also establish special protections for residential and commercial tenants as well as property owners, and adopt provisions reinforcing new protections against utility shutoffs and parking pass fees.

The resolutions will be addressed during a special session set to take place right before the City Council’s regular 7:30 pm public session—the only city-sponsored meeting or gathering that has not been canceled due to the expanding crisis.

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The resolutions authorize the City Manager, acting in her capacity as Director of Emergency Services, to postpone or cancel “all non-essential public community events or group activities” in city-owned facilities that require 10 or more people; and to close all city-owned facilities that require close contact of “vulnerable individuals,” including those over 60 years old or with compromised immune systems.

Also ordered closed “until further notice” are private facilities including bars and nightclubs that do not serve foot, gyms and fitness centers; movie theaters, live performance theaters and arcades.

In a separate order issued March 16 by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, the county prohibited “all indoor public and private gatherings and outdoor public and private events within a confined space where at least 50 people” are expected to gather.

The South Pasadena resolution would prevent landlords from evicting tenants while the emergency is pending if the tenant can show an inability to pay rent due to financial impacts related to the virus. Tenants will still have to pay but will have up to six months after the emergency is terminated to do so. The provision applies to non-payment and no-fault eviction notices issued on or after the day the resolution is adopted.

It includes a section spelling out the meaning of “financial impacts related to COVID-19,” including those caused by having contracted the disease or caring for a household or family member who has; lost income due to lay-off or loss of hours; compliance with government health authority orders, child-care needs and extraordinary medical expenses.

Although So Cal Gas, Southern California Edison and the city’s water/sewer department have already announced halts to shutoffs due to non-payment, the resolution also includes a suspension of utility terminations and late fees for those who cannot pay for the same financial reasons as above.

It includes a 60-day suspension on the issuance of overnight parking passes and the imposition of late fees for parking violations.

Trucks and other vehicles that deliver items to grocery stores are exempted by the resolution from having to comply with any city regulation that limits delivery hours.

The city is also urging–“in the strongest possible terms” –leaders of South Pasadena’s houses of worship to limit gatherings on their premises and to find “ways to practice their respective faiths while observing social distancing practices.”

The resolution further includes provisions to streamline the city’s ability to respond to the ongoing crisis. It authorizes the City Manager, in her capacity as Director of Emergency Services, to implement any guidance or requirements from state or county health authorities; and authorizes city staff to begin accounting for their COVID-19-related time and expenses for prospective reimbursement under state and federal emergency assistance programs.

 


Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle. He and his wife Karin, an arts administrator from El Sereno, live in South Pasadena.