Story by Carlos Omar. Photos by Ceferino Martirez.
About 70 residents gathered Saturday in front of Long Beach City Hall, launching a campaign lobbying the city council to support passing local legislation which would prevent tenants from being evicted due to substantial remodeling of their unit.
Tenants at the rally represented the Daisy Resistance in downtown, the Orange Resistance near Rosa Parks Park, and the 64th St. Resistance in North Long Beach.
Substantial remodeling of a unit is one of the no-fault just-causes a landlord can cite for seeking the vacancy of a unit, per Califiornia’s tenant protection act.
Local tenants and advocates previously got the council to require landlords to receive permits for substantial remodeling before citing it as a reason for an eviction. It’s a move which may prolong, but does necessarily stop, the eviction process.
Closing the state law’s loophole on evictions for substantial remodeling would prevent that for being a reason for which a landlord in Long Beach can pursue an eviction.
Tenants supported by the Long Beach Tenants Union (LBTU) and Long Beach Residents Empowered (LiBRE) spoke about their experiences with landlords attempting to evict them.
Maribel Miréles has lived at a building on 64th St. for 26 years and has been served an eviction notice by WestStar Property Management Inc. She said this has caused her psychological and emotional stress.
“It only benefits landlords and hurts the most vulnerable,” Miréles said of the substantial remodeling loophole in the ordinance. “I don’t think it’s a just-cause”
Belen De La Rosa who lives with her mother, husband, and children, said their unit has mold, water leaks, and the presence of both cockroaches and mice. They have lived in the building for over 11 years. Her brother and sister also live at the Daisy building.
“We feel very bad because when there is an opportunity to fix the conditions of the building and no longer live in them, they are [instead] evicting us,” said Belen De La Rosa, a tenant representing the Daisy Resistance.
Belen said this has been the cause of great stress. She said her family has not given a reason to be evicted, as they have continued to pay rent throughout the pandemic.
“As a mother I am worried about what will happen to us if they remove the protection that is in place right now,” said Silvia De La Rosa. “And that Brad will [evict us] for not for paying what he is increasing in rent.”
Silvia, who has lived in Long Beach for 23 years, said her landlord, Brad Johnson, has attempted to increase her rent by $600.
“Maybe you all have children,” Silvia said. “… Where we will all go with our children?”