The Irvine City Council will bring forth a resolution with the intent of making it an ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting that is designed to help residents and small businesses make it through the COVID-19 crisis. The effort was driven by Council member Farrah Khan and Mayor Christina Shea and it’s designed to place a temporary moratorium on evictions, increases in rent, mortgage foreclosures, utility shut-offs, and associated late fees.
This ordinance would affect all Irvine residents impacted by COVID-19 and there would also be a temporary moratorium on evictions and late fees for small business owners under commercial leases in the city who cannot pay rent due to loss of revenue as a result of COVID-19.
Yesterday, Irvine Council member Melissa Fox – who is also a candidate for AD68 – issued a press release saying this ordinance isn’t strong enough. The fact is, she’s really late to the table here by about a week.
Melissa’s husband, Michael, is lobbying the DPOC to solicit party support for Melissa’s efforts with a resolution, which won’t happen this month as the party’s monthly meeting is cancelled. He’s also working his magic on social media and its’ important to remember this is the guy that refused to turn over the Democrats of Greater Irvine’s Facebook page rights when he was no longer a board member while turning the platform into all Melissa all the time (getting the rights back was akin to a hostage negotiation).
Melissa’s blog – unclear if she writes it or Michael does – states the ordinance is inadequate for the following reasons:
- It does not protect homeowners paying a mortgage who are in danger of foreclosure.
- It does not protect tenants of any landlords other than The Irvine Company and FivePoint.
- It does not protect subtenants.
- It does not offer full legal protection, affording no real security or peace of mind.
The news release is designed to get the attention of those who haven’t been paying attention; messages from the Irvine Company and FivePoint was posted over the weekend. As far as mortgages go, banks and credit unions can’t really turn to the courts to evict anyone because the courts are shut down until further notice. And if homeowners were already on their way to foreclosure, any relief for COVID-19 is a stop gap measure at best.
If only Fox worked with Khan on the resolution/ordinance. Here are some facts behind what the council will try to do tonight.
Fact: Governor Newsom issued EO on 3/16, Khan worked with Shea to secure support for placing a resolution to ban evictions, rent increases, among other things on the agenda. This memo was provided to all Councilmembers on 3/17.
Fact: Since this memo was made public, Khan and the Mayor worked with our major landlords (including the Irvine Company and FivePoint) as well as utilities like SoCal Edison and each have submitted their public commitment not to evict, raise rents or disconnect utilities, or charge late fees. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/03/23/coronavirus-help-2-big-california-apartment-landlords-offer-rent-deferral-plans/?fbclid=IwAR27gde2Ipe7RPJqwcR_CcyePyeO_hpmmavvDWO74epS8HnuJnWo9nbNxPc
Fact: Khan shared the language of the Irvine resolution with other cities for them to use on similar resolutions.
Fact: Majority Democratic cities like Santa Ana support a resolution and Costa Mesa has deferred the issue to a later date.
Fact: The resolution is aimed at all landlords, residential and commercial. It is aimed at all utility providers including cable and ISPs.
Fact: The Voice of OC quoted Khan on her efforts for this ordinance on Tuesday night. https://voiceofoc.org/2020/03/evictions-in-orange-county-likely-to-pause-due-to-coronavirus/
According to Khan, Fox never reached out to her or any council colleagues on this matter. The release, issued a day before the meeting, is designed to attract attention of those not already paying attention. You can’t be a champion on issues without putting effort into your work. It’s easy to stir up support for a non-existing issue behind the screen of your computer at home.
From the Voice of OC story:
The resolution states that the city has reached out to the Irvine Company and FivePoint Holdings, the two largest landowners in the city, and they have agreed to halt evictions over the coming weeks, but Khan said that there are still other renters to take into account.
“We have thousands of individual landlords, this has to apply to everyone across the board,” Khan said. “I’ve been reached by a countless amount of people who are genuinely concerned.”
City officials have made it clear that the resolutions are intended only for residents who cannot pay rent due to the coronavirus shutdown.
“If you’re still earning an income, you’re going to be fine. There are steps that are involved, you have to show why you’re not able to pay your rent,” Khan said. “We want to make sure no one is taking advantage of this, we want to partner with our landlords and hope they do the right thing, but we want to make sure our community feels safe.”
The California Apartments Association, an organization that represents landlords and apartment developers, says that it is working with local governments to tailor the resolutions so that landlords will not be negatively affected in the months ahead, but encourages its members to “act with compassion” regardless of the laws in place and work with their tenants for payment plans.
Fox has built-in support at DPOC from some of the leadership at the Party, while Khan might still be paying a price for her council appointment of Mike Carroll. But the thing really driving this wedge is the Party’s outright refusal to fully investigate the complaint Khan made against Vice Chair Jeff LeTourneau at the January 2018 meeting where he threatened Khan with a recall way before the council appointment. LeTourneau lost his election for a new term on the DPOPC which means he needs to find someone to appoint him to an alternate’s spot. Even if he does, the Party should replace him in 2021 as Resolutions and Bylaws co-chair with someone duly elected to the Central Committee.
We have two Democrats on the Irvine City Council; it’s too bad they can’t work together.