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Santa Monica Expands Eviction Protections to Business Tenants, Suspends Bus Fares, Late Fees
 

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By Jorge Casuso

March 18, 2020 -- The City of Santa Monica on Tuesday expanded its eviction protections to business tenants and suspended parking restrictions, bus fares and late penalties on City bills during the coronavirus emergency.

In a revised first supplement to his executive order, City Manager Rick Cole prohibited the eviction of residential or commercial tenants for nonpayment of rent if they can show they are unable to pay "due to financial impacts related to COVID-19."

It also covers no-fault evictions "if any member of the household is sick, in isolation, or under quarantine," according to the order.

While the order does not excuse the past rent accrued during the period, it allows tenants six months after the end of the emergency to pay it back.

“The modifications to the eviction ban are particularly important for residents and businesses facing extreme economic hardship as a result of this health crisis that is compounding our existing housing crisis,” said City Manager Rick Cole.

“In this time of crisis, we must do what we can to safeguard everyone, including our most vulnerable.”

An executive order issued by Cole on Monday closed all bars and nightclubs, movie theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys, arcades, gyms, fitness centers, spas and salons.

It also bans restaurants from serving food for consumption on their premises but allows them to prepare and deliver food or offer it for pick up or for drive-through ("Santa Monica Closes Restaurants to Sit in Diners," March 16, 2020).

Wednesday's supplemental order also suspends the removal of rental property from the market under the Ellis Act, which allows landlords of rent control buildings to go out of the rental business.

The City Manager also revised a separate order to suspend Big Blue Bus fares.

Passengers will have to use the rear door "to better facilitate social distancing and to protect the health of motorcoach operators," officials said.

The rule does not apply to those who need ADA assistance.

In addition, the supplemental order suspends late fees for "City water and/or sewer bills, parking citations, refuse and recycling collection bills, Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) charges, Fire Prevention inspection charges, Transient Occupancy Taxes, Utility Users Taxes, and Parking Facility Taxes."

Both supplemental orders remain in effect through April 15 but can be extended by the City Council or by a further executive order.


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