Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Board of Supervisors looks at commercial rents, hopes to help small business

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By ANUSHA SHANKAR, City News Service

Calling it an attempt to foster a more equitable and sustainable local economy, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed its staff on Tuesday, July 9, to conduct an economic analysis of commercial rents in the county and provide recommendations for a commercial tenant relocation assistance program.

Introduced by Supervisor Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis, the motion approved by the board calls small businesses “cultural brokers, sources of local identity, and engines of economic opportunity,” while highlighting the negative impacts of rising rent, gentrification and displacement.

“It is crucial for the county to implement stronger small business tenant protections and anti-displacement measures to preserve the vitality and character of our neighborhoods,” the motion states.

Mitchell said the board has always prioritized anti-displacement efforts and small business support, noting programs such as the Employee Ownership program, Commercial Acquisition Fund, Economic Mobility Initiative, Entrepreneurship initiative and Legal Assistance Program.

“Exploring additional policy interventions would protect these cultural anchors and will complement these existing programs,” she said.

The motion noted that a bill introduced in the state Senate this year would increase protections for “qualified commercial tenants,” adding that small businesses and nonprofit commercial tenants have fewer protections than residential tenants in the state.

Solis called small businesses the lifeblood of the county and said implementing protections is imperative given the impacts of rent increases and displacement.

“The issue was especially prevalent during the pandemic and it’s aftermath,” she said.

The motion cited a report which found that more than 15,000 businesses closed and 5,300 businesses fell behind on rent during the pandemic in the city of Los Angeles.

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