A March 2024 ballot measure that would have required hotels to make vacant rooms available to homeless people appears to be dead on arrival. Unite Here Local 11, which represents 32,000 hotel workers in Southern California and Arizona, has agreed to withdraw the measure in exchange for a local ordinance restricting new hotel development.
The ordinance was introduced Wednesday after the union struck a deal with Council President Paul Krekorian. Council members Hugo Soto-Martinez, John Lee, Katy Yaroslavsky, Nithya Raman, Bob Blumenfield and Traci Park joined Krekorian in supporting the proposal.
The new regulations would establish a more complicated approval process for hotel development. Hotel developers would have to replace any existing housing that gets demolished in order to build a new hotel. The city would also have additional resources to crack down on short-term rentals that become a nuisance. For instance, hotels and short-term rental hosts would need to get operating permits from the Los Angeles Police Department.
“We have said all along that our contract campaign has been about two things: housing for our members where they work and a living wage,” Kurt Petersen, the union’s co-president, said in a statement. “With this ordinance, we have done more to protect housing than any single contract demand would have done.”
The ordinance could also end up improving the union’s bargaining position at individual hotels if increased rates drive up hotel profits.
Councilmember Traci Park praised the ordinance for averting a potential catastrophe for the hospitality industry.
“The thought of putting individuals, many of whom have very serious mental health and substance abuse issues, [in hotel rooms] without on-site services is a recipe for disaster,” Park said.