WeHo City Council Tackles a Number of COVID-19 Issues With a Focus on Local Business

The virtual meeting of the West Hollywood City Council with, from left to right, Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, attorney Laura Langer, Councilmember Lauren Meister, Mayor John D’Amico, Councilmember John Duran, Councilmember John Heilman, and City Manager Paul Arevalo

The West Hollywood City Council tonight enacted a six-month moratorium on evictions of commercial tenants unable to pay their rent because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and extended the payback period for apartment renters from six months to 12 months. The moratorium for both residential and commercial tenants takes effect retroactively as of March 16 and ends as of May 31.

The Council’s decisions were made during a meeting that included speculation about the long-term ramifications of the pandemic on a city whose economy is built largely on tourism and nightlife. City Manager Paul Arevalo said the pandemic would mean a city budget deficit of $15 million this year and another $15 million next year. Arevalo said it is unlikely that the city’s business community would recover as early as June or July this year, as some have hoped for. And he noted that there is likely to be another surge in virus infections this fall.

In addition to extending the payback period for apartment tenants, the Council decided that those tenants, some of whom are self-employed, should not be required to provide documentation of their COVID-19-related financial problems in order to qualify for the moratorium.  While commercial tenants will have to provide documentation of their financial issues, the Council agreed to give them up to 90 days to do that. Councilmember John Duran, who has his own legal practice, said he and others like him haven’t had any income for three weeks, but that it would take a month or two to get a bank statement to document that.

Included in the wide range of pandemic-related issues raised at the meeting were:

–What the city should do about complaints from residents that workers on construction projects aren’t maintaining a six-foot social distance to avoid transmission of the COVID-19 infection or practicing proper hygiene. Some residents have asked that all construction projects be shut down. City Manager Paul Arevalo noted the negative impact of that on the more than 4,000 people working at 900 construction sites in the city. Arevalo said the city is working with contractors to ensure they have necessary sanitation tools.

–Enforcing social distancing at city parks and dog parks, where some residents have noted people playing basketball and gathering closely. Arevalo said the city is putting up signs at the parks to alert people to the importance of social distancing. However, he said it is likely that the city will be shutting down the parks, including the dog parks, this week.

–Making COVID-19 testing more available to West Hollywood residents.  Currently there are 11 testing sites in Los Angeles County, with another three scheduled to open this week. Arevalo said the city is working with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to create a testing site in or near West Hollywood.  People who want to get tested can apply testing online and must have symptoms of the infection. The requirement that one also be 65 or older, or have underlying health conditions, or be quarantined because of COVID-19 exposure has been lifted.

–The impact of the city’s deadlines for building owners required to determine if their property must be retrofitted to protect it from an earthquake. Some building tenants who are attempting to isolate themselves have complained about having seismic engineers entering their homes. The Council agreed to extend those deadlines for one month after the end of the emergency period, which currently is May 31 but may be extended.

–The possibility of opening a temporary or permanent food bank to assist low income West Hollywood residents. Jewish Family Service’s SOVA food bank, whose services to West Hollywood residents are subsidized by the city, closed its location at 8846 W. Pico Blvd. because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Arevalo said SOVA continues to deliver meals to people’s homes twice a month and that it wouldn’t be wise now to open a food bank where people can congregate.  The Council voted tonight to allocate $227,500 for emergency funding food services and to Bet Tzedek, the organization that provides legal assistance to renters;

The Council also agreed to grant a temporary medical cannabis license to the Original Café, which has licenses for on-site consumption and delivery of recreational cannabis.  Only those businesses that deal in medical cannabis have been allowed to remain open under the Health Department’s declaration that non-essential businesses must close.


newest oldest
Notify of
Vigilant
Guest
Vigilant

LIVE, WORK, PLAY AND BE SAFE campaign, resulting from a disaster mitigation study initiated by Lauren Meister several years ago while serving as a Public Safety Commissioner.

Richard K.
Guest
Richard K.

Once again City Council is a day late and a dollar short, literally.
On Tuesday L.A. made face masks mandatory for construction workers, grocery store employees and many other essential business workers. Now it will most likely take another council meeting and another two weeks for West Hollywood to follow suit. Clearly, two weeks in an emergency life and death pandemic is critical and will certainly cost lives.
Why can’t the City step forward and be a leader in protecting its residents?

Luke
Guest
Luke

Is there an official executive order with this information available somewhere? Also, regarding the commercial eviction moratorium, is there also a provision that forbids landlords from adding late fees or penalties similar to what is happening in the residential sector?

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

What is missing is a way for the City to monitor how COVID-19 is actually impacting our residents. How will we know how many residents have become unemployed? The numbers of people who need access to food now that SOVA is essentially only serving it’s pre-COVID clients. Who anticipates having problems paying rent or utilities? Right now the City is relying on random reports and there is no effort being made to have a methodical collection of data so that we actually can figure out what we can do for people who may be forced from their homes. It would… Read more »

John Daniel Harrington Tyrell
Guest
John Daniel Harrington Tyrell

What is in the best interest of the residents of West Hollywood and their health, not what’s helpful in Municipal Politics. If there are 900 construction sites vs 1 possible Food Bank, I think it benefits the West Hollywood residents to have a single food bank even if temporary. I hope that the City can make changes that benefit the many residents.

Vigilant
Guest
Vigilant

How about each of these 900 developers uniting to create a temporary food bank. Or they might think about writing one big check to SOVA to rapidly expand their services already in place. No lost time with getting additional approvals and cutting red tape. Who will be in charge of collecting the checks at City Hall?

Lionel
Guest

A bigger danger is the homeless. They have covid and will infect the rest of us.

We Proud Boys urge strong measures against the homeless. Evict them from our cities. Nothing less.

Trump will save us from covid and the homeless. Trump 2020!!!!

On another note, I am the organizer of the largest group on Meetup – LA Free Concerts. Please join and help me get more influence

Proud Boy Lionel
Meetup Organizer LA Free Concerts

Alison
Guest
Alison

What proof can you provide for your statement that the homeless have covid? From what we have been told, they do not for the most part. I have read that only one or two in Skid Row downtown have tested positive. Trump has botched the response big time. We should be helping the homeless during this crisis, not evicting them!

Leslie K
Guest
Leslie K

The city, county and government can make all the rules they want, but many won’t comply out of an individual sense of entitlement and invincibility and the utter lack of enforcement.

On a short walk this morning I passed construction workers standing together on the sidewalk without facial coverings, joggers without facial covering spewing forth particles through their heavy breathing, people walking their dogs without facial covering. I’d guess there was a 95% noncompliance rate in my little survey and most of the noncompliant appeared to be under 40. A sheriff’s vehicle simply drove past joggers without protective gear.

nate
Guest
nate

The requirement for face masks is not intended for people running by themselves throughout the city. I run without a face mask, and don’t go within 6 feet from anyone on the run. I’m also under 40. I’m not putting anyone on risk going on a run without a face mask. If you are concerned, stay indoors.

Elitist Among Us
Guest
Elitist Among Us

…..and today I saw an off-leash dog attack a mailman. Some people people will never have any sense of community or for the safety of others.

Ham Shipey
Guest
Ham Shipey

With everything going on…..they feel it’s important to grant a temp cannabis license? Unreal.

Peter Buckley
Guest
Peter Buckley

Keeping construction sites open is just a joke, a nuisance and endangers all of us living in West Hollywood. Time to review our decision makers ability to look after us.

Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

900 construction sites in this tiny city is shocking. Developers donations to the council are what’s keeping these sites open. These sites are hardly “essential”. Absolutely pathetic.

The Real Zam
Guest

Only a small number of construction sites are those sponsored by large developers. In fact, this term applies to any project involving a construction crew of some sort. If a homeowner is renovating or repairing their home and is forced to temporarily relocate until the project is complete, their home would be a construction site. If a landlord is earthquake proofing a rent controlled property and relocating elderly residents until the project is complete, that building would be a construction site. If your bathroom was flooded and you were depending on the use of a gym shower which is no… Read more »

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

It was the Gov. Newsom who declared construction as being “essentail” so the City Council cannot unilaterally ban all construction. In some ways I appreciate the fact that road working is happening when there is less traffic. There are only a couple of large construction sites which are clearly buffered from residential areas; they are not endangering residents. It seems to me that construction workers should be taking precautions but I don’t see anyone demanding markets close down which do not provide meaningful “social distancing” for their employees.