Local ordinances threaten to damage the industry
When I hear of the City of Los Angeles, thoughts of trendy, sophisticated, and fun people, places, and events immediately spring to mind. I can envision palm trees lining the Hollywood boulevards and oceans breezes swaying the fronds. But there is a political side of this great City that is now causing concern not only for local AAHOA Members, but also for the entire hospitality industry.
As you may have heard, the LA City Council has already passed one ordinance known as “The Hotel Worker Protection Initiative.” The City Council is scheduled to consider another one known as the “Hotel Land Use and Replacement Housing Requirements” in the upcoming weeks. Both of the ordinances were proposed by Unite Here Local 11, which gathered ample resident signatures to qualify the ordinances for the ballot. But these ordinances will directly threaten California’s hospitality economy and jobs. They will result in significant and costly changes and regulations impacting the development, ownership, and operations of hotels in the City. There are high concerns that these laws could then quickly spread to other cities and states across the country.
Specifically, the first ordinance, known as “The Hotel Worker Protection Initiative” requires automatic daily room cleaning throughout the industry, panic buttons and other security measures to protect hotel housekeepers, and expansion of the minimum wage law for hotel workers. The LA City Council passed this ordinance on June 28, 2022, and it becomes law on August 12, 2022. In response, AAHOA leaders and members gathered in large numbers at the hearing to testify against it. AAHOA also is seeking meetings with City Council members to obtain a “carve-out” for economy and limited-service hotels due to the high costs of complying with its measures. While the law will soon take effect, we are continuing to seek relief from the heavy financial burdens it will impose, especially since daily housekeeping is no longer the norm for many economy and midscale hotels.
“AAHOA Members have always exhibited great generosity and compassion for those individuals who have lost homes, jobs, or are otherwise struggling to find stability, but this ordinance is not the answer.”
The second ordinance has not been voted on as of the time of this letter, but we are at a critical juncture as we seek to stop the city from passing it, and instead requesting it be sent to the ballot for the local residents to decide whether it should become law. Specifically, the “Hotel Land Use and Replacement Housing Requirements” would require every hotel in Los Angeles to issue vouchers to unhoused residents on a daily basis for all unoccupied rooms. In essence, LA hotels would be required to begin serving as partial homeless shelters, depending on the number of vacant rooms available on any given day.
AAHOA Members have always exhibited great generosity and compassion for those individuals who have lost homes, jobs, or are otherwise struggling to find stability, but this ordinance is not the answer. The hotel industry and its dedicated owners, operators, managers, and employees are not trained or equipped to provide the necessary services and related care to address the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles or elsewhere. Mandating that they provide hotel rooms puts everyone at risk for their health, safety, welfare, and related concerns.
AAHOA is scheduling communications and meetings with City Council members, and gathering members for testimony at the hearings. We are working closely with the California Hospitality United Coalition and Hotel Association of Los Angeles to obtain positive results. Together we can stop these proposals that threaten the industry and the traveling public. By joining efforts, we can ensure travel will remain safe, exciting, and joyful for the guests, their families, and our hotels that serve them, including in the beautiful City of Angels.