On Tuesday March 17, the LA City Council approved a series of emergency measures responding to the coronavirus outbreak—from enacting moratoriums on evicting renters and businesses to potentially establishing a program that would guarantee 14 days paid leave to Angelenos.
At the hours-long meeting, Councilmembers presented a wide range of solutions to serve residents during the pandemic. The moratorium on evictions and late fees would help families and small businesses who may not have enough money to pay their rent or mortgage due to a loss of income. Affected individuals would have to set up payment plans and would not face eviction over nonpayment while the moratorium was in effect. The Council also asked for an analysis that identifies gaps in paid leave at the federal and state level that would require the need for a local emergency leave program during a major disaster or public health crisis. The Council is also moving forward with a plan that would require employers to have a substantiated reason for letting an employee go. The “just cause” policy would be retroactive to March 1 and provide workers in the service industry including hospitality, janitorial, retail and gig economy industries, a sense of job security and relief.
Councilman Curren Price co-introduced a motion that adds protections for grocery and drug store employees, as well as food delivery workers. This includes giving them time to wash their hands, access to hand sanitizers, disinfectant cleaning products and protective gear, as well as free coronavirus testing and flexible work schedules to address childcare and family needs. The proposal also calls for an ordinance to regulate food delivery platforms like Instacart and Uber Eats to ensure there are protocols in place to keep drivers, shoppers and customers safe.
“These are workers that are on the front lines of this public health emergency and we have to make sure they have the protections they need throughout their shifts,” Councilman Price added. “The goal of the package is for the safety and protection of the employees and customers."
In an effort to aid small local businesses, Councilman Price co-introduced another motion to provide $10 million dollars in emergency funding to create the Small Business Emergency Microloan Program. The program, which will benefit low-income areas within the City of Los Angeles, will be managed by the Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) to issue loans to small businesses directly affected by the coronavirus economic impact.
“As the Chair of the Economic Development Committee, I’m especially concerned for what this public health crisis means for our small businesses, in particular for underserved areas such as in my District,” said Councilman Price. “It’s important not only to support but also maintain our current businesses. This initiative can go a long way in alleviating the concerns that are weighing heavily on our business community.”
The City Council is scheduled to meet again next Tuesday, March 24.