The City Council voted on April 14 to give some temporary relief to LB commercial and residential landlords impacted by COVID-19. The item, agendized by Vice Mayor Dee Andrews, joined by Councilmembers Al Austin, Stacy Mungo and Daryl Supernaw, carried 9-0, although the uanimity belied a Council political split.
Co-agendizing incumbents Andrews and Austin face tough re-election challenges in November runoffs from challengers backed by organized labor and its frequent allies Councilmembers Richardson and Uranga. With floor support from Councilwoman Suzie Price, the agendizers had the five votes they needed to outflank Richardson, Uranga, Zendejas and Pearce.
The Council voted to defer “Proactive Rental Housing Inspections” until after Jan. 1, 2021 (although Life and Health Safety inspections will continue) and PRHIP inspection manual fees also won’t be imposed until Jan. 1, 2021. (By those dates, the outcomes of the November 2020 runoffs will be known.)
The agendized item proposed that city management “work with all other appropriate departments, to evaluate the feasibility” of implementing “a temporary suspension of the Proactive Rental Housing Inspection Program (PRHIP) and business licensing renewal fees for residential rental property owners and commercial property owners impacted by the COVID-19” and “find additional financial relief or incentives at the local level for residential and commercial owners that are being directly impacted by revenue loss due to the COVID-19. The agendized item specified that the financial relief options “should include, but not be limited to:
- Any permitting fees associated with a business reopening if they closed due to orders/restrictions;
- Any Conditional Use Permit (CUP) fees being required to be paid up front during the time the State of Emergency is in effect; and
- Traffic Control Fees.
The agenda item received written support from seven owners of properties rented for residential or commercial purposes and associated realtors. Among the supportive correspondence was an April 9 letter from the Small Property Owners Alliance (SPOA) whose chair, Keith Kennedy, noted that COVID-19 mandates make it difficult for residents to pay and housing providers to collect unpaid rent.
“For many of our Housing Providers, they lack the financial wherewithal to handle such large numbers of “non paying” residents. It’s possible that mortgage and county property taxes may go unpaid. Mr. Kennedy said SPOA “is interested in supporting items that prevent this “health crisis” from becoming a “financial crisis” for both Housing Providers and Residents.”