Morning Brief: Landlord Loopholes, Gas Prices, And Tiny LA
Good morning, L.A. It’s March 10.
Over the past two years, renters in California have been protected from COVID-19-related evictions by state and local laws. The regulations were put in place to ensure if a tenant lost their job or faced other financial hardships due to the pandemic, they’d still have a place to live.
But my colleague David Wagner reports that some landlords have tried to find loopholes, dragging their tenants into court not for unpaid rent, but for nuisance claims and other minor issues.
One such tenant is Janine Johnson, 70, who rents an apartment in Venice. Johnson said that she was approved for rent relief last year, meaning that the state of California would send funds directly to her landlord on her behalf.
But when that money was held up by the slow-as-molasses bureaucracy, Johnson said her landlord, a subsidiary of the publicly traded firm Apartment Income REIT Corp., tried to find other reasons to throw her out. Those included accusing her of running an illegal hotel because she posted an ad for a roommate and complaints about what Johnson calls routine disagreements with neighbors over pets and noise.
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Johnson’s case isn’t unique. Freddy Vasquez, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, said landlords are “becoming skilled at finding ways to go around the current moratoriums the city has in place.”
“What I've seen is creativity from landlords’ attorneys,” he said.
For now, Johnson can remain in her apartment. But the anxiety of being evicted still looms large.
“Landlords are … finding other reasons to try to evict you,” she said. “It's terrifying.”
Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.
What Else You Need To Know Today
- The Asian Law Caucus is suing ICE over its detention of a Vietnamese man from Cypress after the agency attempted to deport him, but Vietnam refused to take him back.
- The L.A. City Council took a step toward dropping the city’s indoor vaccine mandate.
- Gas prices can vary greatly across L.A. and Southern California. We talked to an economist to understand why.
- Two of L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva's opponents in the upcoming election are demanding equal time on radio station KFI, where the sheriff touts his accomplishments and bashes what he calls the “woke political establishment” during his Sunday night show.
- City Councilmember John Lee wants to rename Porter Ridge Park for the 1982 filmE.T, which filmed a famous scene there.
- Through a joint city-university effort, a program set up at UC Davis has administered more than 740,000 free COVID-19 tests.
- In his State of the State speech Tuesday night, Gov. Gavin Newsom touted job creation, an expansion of pre-kindergarten and funding for homelessness services during his administration.
Before You Go ... A Small-Scale Artist Rebuilt An Eastside Burrito Joint, And More Legendary LA Spots
Kieran Wright hand-crafts small-scale versions of places around L.A. His selections are based in the iconic and legendary — Dodger Stadium, the Troubadour in West Hollywood, the hot dog-shaped Tail o’ the Pup in Beverly Grove, The Black Cat in Silver Lake.
Most recently, he made a miniature of Al & Bea's Mexican food in Boyle Heights. Here's how he builds the little replicas, and why Al & Bea's is the latest addition.