Downey to review moratorium on commercial evictions

Wave Staff Report

DOWNEY — The City Council will review its commercial tenant eviction moratorium at a meeting this month in an attempt to make it more fair to landlords.

City Attorney Yvette M. Abich Garcia noted in a report to the City Council June 22 that a moratorium barring the eviction of commercial tenants who can’t pay rent because the COVID pandemic affected their businesses, was first approved in June 2020 and extended several times.

Because the latest extension expired June 30, she proposed a new freeze on evictions to extend to Sept. 30, at which time commercial tenants would have several months or longer to start repayment of the rent owed.

“It’s a one-sided law,” said resident John Lacey, agreeing with two landlords who said they too are business owners and are hurting financially because of the current law, which could allow tenants up to a year to make final payment.

The council agreed and told Garcia to come back for further extensions with provisions requiring commercial tenants to make some type of “good-faith payments” as soon as possible.

The vote was 4-0. Councilman Mario Trujillo, a retail business owner and renter, abstained.

Several residents, speaking in both English and Spanish, asked about help for residential tenants. They wore white T-shirts bearing the name “Downey Renters Union.”

Mayor Claudia M. Frometa explained that Downey’s resident eviction law, approved in 2020, has been nullified by state action, which established a residential eviction moratorium statewide.

Aldo M. Schindler, director of community development, said the city has federal funds available to help residents pay the rent with about $500,000 remaining after distributing 1,200 flyers on doorknobs with information on making claims.

Some residential tenants said they did not receive such information, while others said they did but found the claim forms too complicated.

Frometa said the detailed forms for financial aid were required by the agencies, which granted the funds to Downey.