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LA Suspends All Farmers Markets, Expands Eviction Moratorium

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All farmers markets in Los Angeles will be suspended until they can show the city they have a plan to enforce safe social distancing among their patrons, the mayor said Monday night, citing crowds that gathered this weekend.

"Now, this is a little different than the other [closures] because food is essential. And I don't want the closing of farmers markets to have even bigger crowds at our grocery stores," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said during his nightly update on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Markets will now be required to submit plans that enforce physical distancing to the city's Bureau of Street Services. Garcetti said that will likely mean markets need to have one entrance and one exit and must enforce a safe distance between people waiting in line. Markets will not be allowed to operate until they submit their plans.

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Garcetti said the city also had to close Silver Lake Meadow, a popular spot near the Silver Lake Reservoir where sunbathers, families and friends gather on weekends. That closure adds to the numerous park and trail closures already in effect across the city and county.

Garcetti also said the city is expanding the eviction moratorium that's currently in effect.

The moratorium covers both commercial and residential units, and residential tenants will now have a full year to pay back any rent they can't afford to pay during the current pandemic, per a city ordinance Garcetti said he signed today. (Commercial tenants will still have to pay back rent in three months.)

"If you cannot pay the rent as a result of this emergency, you cannot be evicted," he said.

In addition, Garcetti is implementing a new emergency order that puts a temporary hold on all rent increases in rent-stabilized units, of which he said there are 624,000 across 118,000 buildings in the city. Normally, landlords can increase the rent by 4% per year under the Rent Stabilization Order.

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Here are some other takeaways from tonight's address:

  • LAPD visited 46 non-essential businesses that were refusing to close down, and Garcetti said those businesses will be referred for prosecution if they continue to operate
  • 42 trailers have been delivered to the Westwood Recreation Center to expand the city's capacity to safely shelter people who are showing symptoms and need to be isolated or quarantined. By Wednesday, another 27 are expected to be placed at the Granada Hills Rec Center
  • People are taking advantage of the reduced traffic to speed but that's causing "horrific accidents," Garcetti said. He warned drivers that LAPD officers will be issuing tickets.
  • 8,373 tests have been completed by the city's fire and personnel departments. By the end of this week, the pace of testing could increase to 13,000 per week

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