The city of Santa Monica extended its moratorium on residential and commercial evictions to June 30, city officials announced Thursday.
The order also extends from six to twelve months the time tenants have to pay rent they were unable to pay. City spokesperson Constance Farrell said the city extended the moratorium and deadline in response to the deep economic impacts of COVID-19 and public health projections that indicate people will be required to remain at home.
Tenants and landlords criticized the city earlier this month for setting the deadline for repayment at six months when the city of Los Angeles had given renters 12 months to make up rent.
“The city is constantly monitoring the emergency situation and updating our local orders to provide the most sensible and meaningful response,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg. “The extensions of the moratorium period and the time to pay the unpaid rents, are intended to provide some relief to our residents and small businesses, restaurants, stores and offices, in light of the uncertainties we face as to when the safe-at-home orders will be lifted, and when we can all go back to work.”
In the version of the moratorium the city enacted last month, renters and businesses had to provide their landlords with documentation showing that coronavirus has affected their earnings.
But under the order Dilg signed Thursday, tenants may simply describe in written notice to their landlords how they have lost income or experienced an increase in expenses due to COVID-19.
A form that can be used by tenants to provide the required notice of their inability to pay rent due to COVID-19 is available here.
Landlords must notify tenants of the moratorium and may not require tenants to enter into payment plans for delayed rent, although tenants must repay any unpaid rent 12 months after the city lifts its emergency orders, Farrell said.
The order also clarifies that the ban on commercial evictions does not apply to multi-national companies, publicly traded companies and companies that employ more than 500 employees.
Three new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Santa Monica Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 159. The number of cases has increased by just 10% over the last week after increasing 44% the week before.
As of Wednesday night, nine Santa Monica residents and 12 people residing in two nursing homes in the city had died from COVID-19, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. It is unknown how many individuals who died in the nursing homes lived in the city and therefore are included in its death toll.
Santa Monica’s death rate adjusted for age distribution is 7.3 per 100,000 people, while Beverly Hills’ is 6.03, Malibu’s is 4.47, West Hollywood’s is 3.55 and Culver City’s is 3.54. L.A. County’s overall death rate is 9.9 — the highest of any county in the state.
Across L.A. County, 92% of people who have died had underlying health conditions, 75% were older than 65 and 60% were male.
In Santa Monica, 1,423 people have been tested, putting the city’s adjusted testing rate at about 1,628 per 100,000 people, according to the dashboard. About 11% of those, or 157 people, have tested positive as of Wednesday. The number of confirmed cases increased 13% over the last week after increasing 42% the week before.
Malibu and Beverly Hills have a higher testing rate, at about 4,556 and 1,852, respectively. West Hollywood’s rate is 1,509 and Culver City’s is 1,292.
The closest public drive-through testing site to Santa Monica is at the West Los Angeles Veteran’s Administration campus. Private hospitals and medical practices are also providing testing.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday night that all residents, including those without symptoms, could be tested for free at the city’s testing sites.
But L.A. County Health Services Director Christina Ghaly said Thursday that the county is not recommending that asymptomatic people be tested at the county’s testing sites, except for essential workers, people older than 65 and people with chronic health conditions.
The county is also testing all residents and staff at nursing homes and other congregate living facilities, regardless of symptoms.
Ghaly said asymptomatic people should continue to stay home as much as possible, practice physical distancing and wear face coverings. If asymptomatic people get tested and test negative, it could make them behave as though they won’t contract coronavirus in the future, she said.
“I understand that testing can provide individuals with a sense of security … but want to I caution everyone to holding on too tightly to that security, because medically, it is fleeting,” Ghaly said. “A negative test for an asymptomatic person does not mean you can go back to life as normal.”