Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared on Eyewitness Newsmakers observing physical distancing. Both the mayor and ABC7 host Adrienne Alpert spoke from their home.
With property tax due April 10, viewers asked why they can't defer payment because of COVID-19. It's a county tax collector question, but the mayor shared Keith Knox's answer. The county has no authority to extend the April 10 deadline. However, starting April 11, people who cannot pay on time because of COVID-19 can submit a request for penalty cancellation online.
"You can self-defer," the mayor said but there is no guarantee penalties will be waived.
By far, the greatest number of questions come from mom and pop landlords who are not collecting rent from tenants who cannot pay. The mayor said he is "deeply sympathetic" and something needs to be done. He warned tenants this is not time for a "complete rent vacation." He said property owners need relief, too. He hopes SBA loans can apply to property owners.
For both taxpayers and renters, the mayor urged everyone to pay what they can. If not, we face an economic "set of dominoes."
The only moratorium in Los Angeles applies to evictions.
The mayor expressed optimism for the possible sale of St. Vincent Hospital to the foundation of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong for its use as a coronavirus central command. The shuttered hospital could be opened as both a research and treatment facility. Garcetti said he has spoken with Gov. Gavin Newsom about the plan.
Viewers want to know why all travelers at LAX and other transportation hubs are not tested for COVID-19. The mayor said it is not the priority because travel is down 95% and community spread is the greatest factor now.
The mayor said METRO will not shut down transportation because too many people rely on it.
While saying it's an "embarrassment we did not have enough tests ready," more are on the way.
For the homeless population, the 20 shelters that have opened are 98% filled. L.A. is negotiating with HUD for 15,000 hotel rooms.
Mayor Garcetti urged everyone to complete their 2020 census by mail, phone, or online. Funding and elected representation depend on it.