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$5 ‘Hero Pay’ Approved By L.A. City Council For Grocery, Drug Store Workers

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Grocery Store Worker COVID-19 Hero Pay
Photo Courtesy of Supervisor Hilda Solis' Office

Los Angeles City Councilmembers approved a $5 “hero pay” for grocery and drug store workers on Wednesday.

The emergency ordinance was passed by a 14-1 vote with Councilman John Lee voting against the measure, the same vote count as the first reading by the council last week.  

The “hero pay” applies to non-managerial workers of grocery or drug stores with more than 300 employees nationwide or over 10 staff members at each site. 

Retail stores with at least 10% of retail floor space dedicated to groceries and medication are also included, according to the City.  

To qualify, an employee must work at least two hours a week, according to the ordinance. 

The hazard pay is expected to be in place for 120 days after the approval on Wednesday. 

“These workers live with daily fear of not only contracting COVID-19 but bringing it home to their families — often for low wages and minimal benefits,” the motion reads. “Because of the sacrifice of these essential workers, families throughout the City continue to have access to the food and supplies they need during the pandemic.”

Through the ordinance, the City “seeks to justly compensate essential grocery and drug retail workers for their daily sacrifices and the ongoing danger they and their families face while providing vital services to the City’s residents during the pandemic.”

This hazard pay follows the ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors for unincorporated areas of L.A. County passed last week.

“While many sectors were able to transition their workforce to working from home, millions of workers in face-to-face service industries were deemed ‘essential’ to ensure that our communities continue to operate, and basic needs continue to be provided,” the motion co-authored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Holly Mitchel reads. 

Those in the grocery industry fear measures like this might lead to increased costs to consumers as well as potentially reduced hours for workers. 

“This could increase grocery prices for families in an economic time where many people are struggling,” said Nate Rose, spokesperson for the California Grocers Association (CGA).

The industry association conducted an economic study on the impact of wage increase ordinances and found the grocery costs for a family of four could increase by hundreds of dollars a year, according to Rose. 

The spokesperson added a one-size-fits-all plan is not feasible and it should be up to each company to enact a hazard pay or bonus for their employees. 

The L.A. City ordinance is expected to be in effect for 120 days following the passage on Wednesday. 

Business

City Of Burbank Extends Outdoor Dining Changes, Commercial Eviction Ordinance

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Los Angeles County Outdoor Dining COVID19

The Burbank City Council approved the extension last week of outdoor dining changes and a commercial eviction ordinance which were enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The outdoor dining ordinance is expected to allow restaurants to continue to expanded tables in private parking lots until Dec. 31, unless extended again, according to the City. 

Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed County staff to explore options to make similar dining expansions permanent. 

Burbank officials said the “devastating economic impacts” of the Safer at Home order are still being felt, citing a loss in jobs across L.A. County. 

Many of the jobs lost were in the hospitality industry, however, in the past several months some of these positions are coming back.

“As the pandemic fades, the negative economic impacts will continue,” the dining ordinance said. “As such, the City should consider the welfare of its businesses while protecting the health and wellness of its citizens.” 

In addition to the dining expansion, the Burbank City Council also extended the local commercial eviction moratorium until Sept. 30.

The commercial eviction ordinance for commercial tenants does not forgive the payment of rent, but rather acknowledges a commercial tenant is still obligated to pay any missed rent as deferred payments.   

Any deferred rent will be due six months after the end of the expiration of the Ordinance in September, unless extended again, according to the City. 

This means all deferred rent would be due on March 30, 2022.  Additionally, the property owner may not charge or collect interest, late fees or other penalties that could accrue on unpaid rent through the end of the six-month grace period.  

Residential evictions continue to fall under Assembly Bill 832, which increases the value of the reimbursement the state’s emergency rental assistance program.

The City Council continues to encourage commercial tenants to pay any portion of the rent they can afford along with speaking with landlords to arrange a repayment plan. 

For more information, visit the dining expansion ordinance and the commercial eviction ordinance

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Outdoor Dining Program Extended In L.A. For At Least One Year

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Los Angeles County Outdoor Dining COVID19

Outdoor dining spaces are set to be in place for at least one more year after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a new ordinance extending COVID-19 measures for bars and restaurants. 

The emergency ordinance, expected to be codified within the next two weeks, extends the City’s “Al Fresco” program which allows dining areas to expand into parklets, sidewalks, parking lots and other areas near businesses.

After 12 months, the City Council has the option to extend the program for up to two more years, according to the ordinance. 

The order also suspends the previous requirement that restaurants provide a minimum number of parking spots for vehicles taken up by the expanded dining area.

L.A. Al Fresco aims to help local businesses reopen safely, and allow customers and employees to maintain physical distancing by temporarily relaxing the rules that regulate outdoor dining. 

On May 29, 2020, Garcetti launched the first phase of L.A. Al Fresco to support outdoor dining opportunities for restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, in coordination with the L.A. County Department of Public Health allowing dine-in service at restaurants. 

Permits through the program were previously expected to only be valid through Sept. 1, 2021.

This action comes at the heels of a similar extension by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last month.

The supervisors called upon County staff to establish permanent guidelines for expanded outdoor dining spaces in sidewalks, alleys and parking facilities.  

“We should make every effort to ensure this program becomes a permanent option for eateries throughout the region,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “This is a valuable resource for the restaurant and hospitality industry, which was devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 closures.”

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Business

Tinhorn Flats Evicted From Burbank Property After Repeated Violations

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Tinhorn Flats

Tinhorn Flats, a Burbank bar that repeatedly deified orders to close during the pandemic, has been evicted from its Magnolia Park building. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department turned over possession of the Tinhorn Flats’ location to the property owner, Isabelle Lepejian, as the last step in the eviction process she initiated against the establishment, according to the City of Burbank.

The eviction proceeding is a separate legal action from the recent temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction issued by the Los Angeles County Superior Court in the City’s civil suit against Tinhorn Flats for continuing to operate after revocation of its public health permit and Conditional Use Permit.  

The permanent permit was revoked by the Burbank City Council on Feb. 22, citing Tinhorn Flats’ “flagrant disregard for life safety and violations” of the Los Angeles County Health Officer Orders, which endangered the public health, safety and welfare, along with creating a public nuisance, according to the City.

In March, the building was “red-tagged” as part of multiple attempts to prevent the establishment from operating after COVID-19 violations.

Tinhorn Flats co-owner, Lucas Lepejian, 20, was later arrested after removing sandbags placed by the City of Burbank in front of the establishment to prevent anyone from entering, due to the unsafe conditions, according to the Burbank Police Department (BPD).

Isabelle Lepejian is the mother of Lucas and ex-wife of Baret Lepejian, who is the other co-owner of the establishment.

The Tinhorn Flats owners said they are raising money for a legal defense fund to reopen the restaurant. 

“We will not comply with tyrannical rules and closures,” the owners said. 

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