PRESS RELEASE: City Attorney Blocks Citywide Rent Freeze, Councilmember Ryu to Reintroduce

LOS ANGELES - After yesterday’s 11-hour Council meeting on the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in no freeze on  rent increases, Councilmember Ryu announced he would be reintroducing the motion, and called today for the item to be voted on at the next Council meeting. Councilmember Ryu’s motion to freeze rent increases across the City of Los Angeles, seconded by Councilmember Mike Bonin, was blocked by the City Attorney’s office, which claimed the item was not urgent enough to be voted on during the meeting.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  

March 28, 2020

 

Contact for Councilmember Ryu:

Mark Pampanin

mark.pampanin@lacity.org

213.407.7616

 

City Attorney Blocks Citywide Rent Freeze, Councilmember Ryu to Reintroduce 

LOS ANGELES - After yesterday’s 11-hour Council meeting on the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in no freeze on  rent increases, Councilmember Ryu announced he would be reintroducing the motion, and called today for the item to be voted on at the next Council meeting. Councilmember Ryu’s motion to freeze rent increases across the City of Los Angeles, seconded by Councilmember Mike Bonin, was blocked by the City Attorney’s office, which claimed the item was not urgent enough to be voted on during the meeting. 

“Working people did not cause the Coronavirus pandemic, and working people should not be pushed further into debt because the Coronavirus pandemic has forced them out of work,” Councilmember Ryu said. “I believed a global pandemic, unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, was sufficiently urgent to halt all rent increases - the City Attorney disagreed. In reality, we need to go much further and suspend rent payments altogether, and I’ve called on the Governor to order this. But in the meantime, I’m not going to give up fighting for what I believe is a common sense step to protect renters and working families.”

The motion to institute a freeze on rent increases instructs City staff to prepare an ordinance that would implement a freeze on all residential and commercial rent increases in the City of Los Angeles until the end of the emergency declaration. The motion would make the freezes retroactive to Mayor Garcetti’s March 4, 2020 Declaration of a Local Emergency. Councilmember Ryu introduced the motion under Council Rule 23, an urgency rule that allows an item to be voted on as soon as it’s introduced, before the matter was blocked by the City Attorney. 

The City of Oakland voted to freeze rent increases and ban evictions yesterday, the same day the Los Angeles City Council failed to advance the measure. A measure that Councilmember Ryu supported to expand the City of Los Angeles’ eviction moratorium also failed passage yesterday, by one vote. However, Ryu was pleased that the City Council voted to expand paid sick leave, tenant protections, and safeguard for grocery store workers.

“Suspending rent, freezing rent, and halting evictions are not crazy ideas. What’s crazy is asking people to pay bills right now when they have absolutely no way of paying,” Councilmember Ryu added. “If Washington can give $500 billion to major corporations, certainly the City Attorney can understand the need to protect renters, small businesses, and working Angelenos.” 

Councilmember Ryu also introduced a resolution calling for a Statewide suspension of all rent and mortgage payments during the Coronavirus pandemic emergency, also seconded by Councilmember Bonin. The Resolution, asking the  State government to act also seeks a moratorium on all evictions, foreclosures, a statewide prohibition on utility shut-offs and rate increases, as well as an immediate moratorium on homeless encampment sweeps and displacement. Councilmember Ryu also introduced a motion to freeze all rate increases from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) while Angelenos remain at home during the emergency order.

The City is required to adhere to State laws like Costa Hawkins, and is therefore  unable to suspend rents and mortgages on its own. However, Governor Newsom, who on March 25, 2020 reached an agreement with the four largest banks and 200 smaller banks and credit unions in California to suspend mortgage payments in the State, has yet to suspend rent payments. Two San Francisco Supervisors have also called on the Governor to suspend rent payments during the crisis.

Councilmember Ryu had previously asked Mayor Garcetti to halt rent increases and Governor Newsom to suspend all rent payments statewide in two letters sent on Monday, March 23.

Read the motion to freeze rent increases here.

Read the resolution to suspend rent and mortgage payments here.

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Assistant City Council President Pro Tempore David E. Ryu represents Los Angeles’ 4th Council District which includes Griffith Park, Sherman Oaks, Toluca Lake, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Miracle Mile, Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Larchmont and portions of Koreatown and Van Nuys. 


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