A divided Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed its staff Tuesday to begin a sweeping outreach campaign to ensure that renters and landlords in the county are prepared for the rapidly approaching end of an eviction moratorium enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The county’s tenant protections are set to expire on Dec. 31, and the board on a 3-2 vote Tuesday called for the development of a “coordinated strategy” to ensure all affected people and municipalities are prepared and aware of resources and financial assistance available to them.
“We must be proactive and perform robust outreach and communication to those that are going to be impacted,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who introduced the motion, told her colleagues. “… This provides a plan to prepare both the tenants … as well as the landlords.”
Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis opposed the motion, calling such an outreach campaign premature and suggesting the board may consider extending some renter protections.
“I intend to do everything I can to continue to protect them,” Kuehl said, suggesting that launching a public outreach campaign now would “cause a lot of confusion.”
Board Chair Holly Mitchell countered that the board voted in January to end the renter protections at the end of the year, and she’s yet to see any motions or proposals that would extend them beyond Dec. 31. She said Barger’s motion was only designed to ensure that people are aware the protections are set to expire.
“The motion before us today is merely developing a plan to communicate what is going to happen in three months unless we change course,” Mitchell said. “This motion … doesn’t for the first time articulate Dec. 31 as the end date. That happened in January. … This says we have a responsibility to communicate the formal phase-out plan.”
Kuehl conceded that the eviction protection for non-payment of rent must end, but said she is interested in possibly extending some other protections, such as ensuring that people can only be evicted for just cause and preventing landlords from imposing dramatic rent increases.
Mitchell responded, “If motions are coming forward to extend the emergency protections, great.” But she added, “This motion says we need to communicate the impact of an action we took nine months ago.”
The motion specifically calls on county staff to create a strategy “to communicate the formal phase out of the county’s emergency tenant protections for both landlords and tenants.”
It also calls on the county to reach out to the 88 cities within the county, including Palmdale and Lancaster, to notify them of the lifting of the protections. According to the motion, the county’s eviction ordinance was used as a baseline for renter protections in individual cities, some of which chose to enact even more extensive protections.