Santa Monica City Council could pass a Hero Pay ordinance Tuesday that would require some Westside drug and grocery stores to pay employees an extra $5 per hour.

The proposed law targets retail grocery stores, retail drug stores, and other large stores of 85,000 square feet or more that dedicate more than 10% of their floor space to grocery or drug sales and would immediately become effective if it were to be passed. Store operators who voluntarily provided hazard pay will have a credit against the required hero pay, according to the proposed ordinance. There would also be enforcement mechanisms established before the ordinance sunsets in 120 days.

The law is similar to the one recently passed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who were among the first to discuss an ordinance requiring a $5 increase in per hour pay for essential workers back in early January. A week later, City Council members followed suit and unanimously agreed to pass a temporary ordinance once the County came back with a finalized draft of their own proposal.

Since then, local Hero Pay efforts have been on hold, but cities like Long Beach, Oakland and Los Angeles passed Hero Pay ordinances of their own and ignited controversy.

Almost immediately after Long Beach passed its ordinance, which is similar to the one proposed in Santa Monica, Kroger Co. officials said they will close two supermarkets in Long Beach as a direct response to the city’s mandate.

Kroger isn’t the only chain that’s opposing the various hero pay ordinances that are now emerging in cities across the County though.

Jon Basalone, Trader Joe’s President of Stores, recently penned a letter to Santa Monica councilmembers outlining a number of reasons why the grocer should be exempt from any law relating to Hero Pay.

“We hope the information in this letter will help you understand why a ‘one size fits all’ approach to increasing pay at all Santa Monica grocery stores is not necessary, and current compensation and/or COVID-19 safety performance should be factored in to your consideration,” Basalone said in the letter that’s available online.

However, not everybody agrees.

“Eight full weeks have passed since I first introduced ‘hero pay’ at the Santa Monica City Council, during which grocery and drugstore workers have continued to risk their own health to keep our families fed and healthy,” Councilmember Kevin McKeown said Monday. “I hope Tuesday night the Council will join me in waiting no longer and deciding that ‘hero pay’ should take effect immediately.”

Local resident Maurice Frazier said Monday he has similar desires.

“City council should approve the hero pay because it’s the right thing to do. We are heroes during this pandemic and put our lives, literally, on the line to make sure this community can get their goods and services,” he said as he detailed how his peers have been exposed to Covid or had to stay home due to potential exposure. “It’s a matter of keeping a roof over one’s head, food on the table, gas in their cars or just having the basic needs for day to day living.”

“We’ve been going through this pandemic for a year now and you would be surprised at how many people have to be reminded about pulling up their mask, social distance, etc. It’s getting to the point where people are very rude and disrespectful. This pandemic is real. People need to realize that,” Frazier added. “This hero pay would help me and a lot of my coworkers out greatly. It means I would be able to catch up and pay off bills that have been behind because of COVID. It would break the burden of pressure and help me reset.”

Councilmember Oscar de la Torre said Monday he intends to support the ordinance.

“The pandemic has taught us that our well being is dependent on the sacrifices and commitment of those workers on the front line,” de la Torre said. “On principle, larger companies who have seen profits should share these gains, even if it’s temporary, with their front line employees.”