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Bill to protect nursing home residents from evictions and transfers during COVID pandemic passes Assembly Health Committee

For immediate release:

Torrance, CA – Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and Miguel Santiago’s (D-Los Angeles) AB 279 passed the Assembly Health Committee on an 11-2 vote on April 13. This bill will protect seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic by prohibiting licensed senior residential care facilities from terminating, transferring, or significantly altering the conditions of residential care services during the State of California’s COVID-19 state of emergency period.

This bill would prohibit a senior residential care facility from making significant changes to the delivery of residential care services during the COVID-19 state of emergency unless the owner of the facility declares bankruptcy. Significant changes would include the termination of services as well as the transfer of residents to other facilities unless the resident consents to the termination or transfer. The bill would also require any and all conditions of sale of assets from a not-for-profit entity to a for-profit entity approved by the California Attorney General to remain in effect at least during the duration of the state of emergency. The bill also would require notice of transfer of any new facility residents who had recently tested positive for COVID-19. Finally, the bill would also require the owner of the facility to give at least 6-months advance notice of any proposed termination of the licensed operation to residents.

“Seniors in residential care facilities are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Assemblymember Muratsuchi. “We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to protect these seniors from eviction or transfer trauma. At the very least, we should allow these seniors and their loved ones the peace of mind knowing that their current homes will not be taken away from them during a pandemic.”

“It is absolutely unethical to force our senior residents out of a viable facility at the height of a global pandemic,” said Assemblymember Santiago. “Unfortunately, we are seeing this in my district in Boyle Heights where close to 70 senior residents – primarily Japanese Americans – will be displaced by Pacifica for no justifiable reason. This bill is intended to protect these vulnerable seniors and others facing similar threats throughout the state by prohibiting termination, relocation, or significant alteration of quality services during COVID-19.

Last year, Pacifica Companies, owner of the Sakura Gardens Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) in Los Angeles, announced their plan to close the facility primarily serving the Japanese American community and transfer its current residents to other facilities. Pacifica applied to the City of Los Angeles for approval of the conversion of the 90-bed ICF into apartments. The for-profit developer Pacifica purchased the ICF from the nonprofit Keiro under conditions of sale approved by the California Attorney General in 2016. Those conditions require ICF residential care services to use the Japanese language and cultural amenities for at least a five-year period. That period ended in February 2021.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi represents California’s 66th Assembly District, which includes El Camino Village, Gardena, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, and West Carson. Muratsuchi is the Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies and the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace. He is a member of the Assembly Committees on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials; Natural Resources; Utilities and Energy; Veterans Affairs; and Water, Parks and Wildlife.

Media Contact: Kerry Jacob, 310-806-0893