As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez (pictured above) has cancelled council meetings for the rest of March, surprising activists seeking critical relief measures to help vulnerable residents. Activists are now urging Martinez to hold an emergency meeting to pass such protections as a rent freeze and mortgage suspension.
“It’s extremely disappointing and, frankly, an abdication of responsibility for the City Council to go dark with millions of Angelenos confronting a pandemic,” says Housing Is A Human Right Director René Christian Moya. “April 1st is coming. Rents and mortgages will be due. Our City Council should work round the clock to ensure income stability, housing. and peace of mind for all.”
Martinez claims the reason for the sudden cancellation is that the City Council is not yet ready to hold remote meetings, according to the Los Angeles Times. That, in itself, is alarming — the second largest city in the nation is facing a pandemic, but the Los Angeles City Council hasn’t figured out how to hold remote meetings. And the council won’t figure it out, apparently, for weeks.
In the meantime, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors held a meeting today, which was broadcasted through a live video stream. The supervisors attended the meeting remotely, and the public could call in to make comments.
So far, in Los Angeles County, according to the county public health department, there have been 662 confirmed coronavirus cases and 11 deaths. In L.A., confirmed cases have been found in, among other neighborhoods, Brentwood (31), the Melrose area, (26), Hollywood (19), North Hollywood (10), and Sherman Oaks (10).
Healthy LA Coalition, a citywide coalition of more than 150 organizations, has been pressing the Los Angeles City Council to quickly approve protections, including rent forgiveness and mortgage suspension, a moratorium on evictions, a rent freeze, emergency rental assistance, homeowner assistance, and other items.
“As COVID-19 triggers a national state of emergency, and a statewide call to stay home and stay sheltered, many Angelenos are forced to put their health on the line simply to keep a roof over their heads,” the coalition wrote in a statement. “In this precarious time, it’s crucial that [City Council members’] next actions be bold, decisive, and for the good of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.”
“Our own health depends on the health of the person next to us, and the person next to them,” the coalition wrote. “Ensuring every Angeleno’s access to the space, resources, and health services they need is how we take care of each other. Our local governments’ actions must reflect this essential truth and rise to the scale of this enormous challenge. This is not the time for half-steps or hesitation. Now is the moment to protect the most vulnerable. When we do that, we protect everyone.”