Scores of Long Beach residents upset about their housing situations turned out Tuesday night at Long Beach’s City Council meeting to support a no-fault eviction freeze proposal.
The proposal, which introduced an emergency resolution to stop all no-fault evictions in the city through the end of 2019, passed unanimously.
Long Beach residents who came out to support the measure sported green badges that read “Keep LB Families #HomeFortheHolidays.” Some wore t-shirts with supportive slogans, like one child whose shirt read “LB RENT CONTROL NOW.”
“I’m a single mother, I have two children. I’m just asking for help because I have a 60-day notice,” Brenda, an impacted tenant, said. “She paused to wipe tears from her eyes before finishing. “I’m just asking for your guys’ help.”
More than 50 Long Beach residents spoke passionately about the measure. Many of them were victims of the type of no-fault eviction the city wanted to place a moratorium on.
“In front of the city supervisor, [my landlord] said he would never fix the apartment and would never do what he was being told to do,” resident Maria Garcia said. “It’s very difficult to live in this country when landlords discriminate against us.”
Garcia must leave her home of 18 years by Dec. 1 and said she is the victim of a retaliatory eviction for reporting her apartment’s rat problem to the city. There are no laws that protect tenants from such eviction in Long Beach.
Most residents who spoke were victims of mass evictions designed to clear out apartment complexes. Developers purchase run down and poorly maintained complexes to bulldoze and replace with luxury residences. That’s what happened to Carmen, another long-time Long Beach resident.
“I have five children, four are disabled, they have autism [and] I have a child in a wheelchair,” Carmen said. “The [property] manager called me four days ago and I’m only allowed until Dec. 30 to get out. He doesn’t care about my finances. He doesn’t care where I spend New Year, he said I can go live underneath a bridge and that it’s my problem, not his.”
This wave of mass evictions is the direct result of Assembly Bill 1482, a bill passed by the California state legislature designed to combat the housing crisis in California. Two key provisions in the bill, an annual rent increase limit of 5% plus inflation and a “just cause” requirement for evictions, place strict limits on landlords looking to raise the rent.
“It’s created a significant policy gap which has placed the residents of Long Beach at risk,” councilmember Rex Richardson said. “The time between [the bill’s signing and when it goes into effect] creates an unintended incentive for landlords to raise rents and issue 60-day notices. We’ve seen real documented accounts of a strategy by landlords to game the system.”
The gap Richardson referenced lasted from Sept. 11, the bill’s signing, to Nov. 3, the last day property owners could issue a 60-day notice under AB 1482. His proposed emergency eviction moratorium would protect renters who received one of those notices on or after Sept. 14.
So far, Los Angeles, Cudahy, Bell Gardens, Torrance, Sacramento, Milpitas, Redwood City, Daly City, Santa Cruz, Pasadena, San Mateo and Alhambra have taken action to protect its city’s renters by issuing emergency eviction moratoriums.
“These are cities that don’t have a reputation of being an uber-liberal city. This is modest. This is reasonable.” Richardson said as the audience broke out into applause.
Only Mike Murchison, a politically active community member who works closely with many property owners, had any criticism the proposal. He was careful to mention that he did not oppose it, however.
Murchison said he didn’t like the city not reaching out to business groups who would be affected by the moratorium. He also brought up concerns about landlords who had paid relocation assistance to tenants who would no longer be evicted. His comments were met with boos from the audience, but his concerns about relocation assistance were addressed in a friendly amendment.
The council will vote on implementing the emergency moratorium at next week’s meeting.
The next city council meeting will be held Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. at Long Beach City Hall.