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LA ordinance would protect housing but remove homeless requirement, a compromise amid union strike – Orange County Register

Los Angeles city leaders unveiled a proposed ordinance this week that would require developers to replace any permanent housing that’s lost to make way for new hotels.

The Los Angeles Responsible Hotel Ordinance, introduced Wednesday, Nov. 1 by City Councilman Paul Krekorian, would be a compromise to Unite Here Local 11‘s ballot initiative, which would force hotels to report room vacancies so they could be filled by homeless people.

The new ordinance instead would create a voluntary registry where hotels that wish to participate could still notify the city of vacant rooms that could be used as interim housing for the homeless.

Opponents of Unite Here’s controversial ballot initiative say it would turn the city’s hotels into virtual homeless shelters, housing some with mental illness or drug addiction issues. They say it would put hotel workers and guests at risk and dissuade travelers from staying at LA hotels.

Lynn S. Mohrfeld, president and CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association, applauded the city’s proposal.

“We are grateful that the LA City Council found a path to a common-sense solution that will protect hotel employees from the ballot measure proponent’s very harmful proposal,” Mohrfeld said in a statement.

In introducing the proposed ordinance, Krekorian said the city’s shortage of affordable housing extends beyond the “homelessness in our streets.”

“It hurts everyone who’s looking for a home in Los Angeles,” he said. “The hospitality industry is a vital and necessary component of our local economy, and we need hotels to welcome the thousands of visitors we receive, but new hotel construction cannot come at the cost of our current housing stock.”

The ordinance would require all new hotel developments to obtain a conditional use permit, a process that involves a public review of any effect on the city’s existing housing supply.

It further requires all hotels, proposed or existing, and all short-term rentals to obtain a police permit through a process that would screen owners and operators of the properties for prior criminal activity or any history of creating a public nuisance.

Unite Here said more than 100 hotels are under construction or in planning stages in the city of LA.

The proposed ordinance comes amid a four-month-long strike involving 15,000 Southern California hotel workers who are fighting for wages that will allow them to “live in the communities where they work.”

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, Biltmore Los Angeles, Loews Hollywood and Laguna Cliffs Marriott are the only hotels that have reached tentative labor agreements with Unite Here, which represents the workers.

In an interview Friday, Unite Here Co-President Kurt Petersen said the union is prepared to withdraw its ballot initiative once the Los Angeles Responsible Hotel Ordinance is formally approved. The deadline to withdraw the measure from the ballot is Dec. 1.

“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,” Petersen said. “With this ordinance, we have done more to protect housing than any single contract demand would have done.”

The ordinance goes before City Council for a vote on Tuesday, Dec. 7, and then would head to the city attorney’s office for review.

“The city attorney could determine that it’s a land-use issue, which means it would go before the Planning Commission,” said Hugh Esten, a spokesman for Krekorian. “I don’t know if this will be enacted as law by Dec. 1, but I don’t see any obstacles. The union and hotel industry support it.”


https://www.ocregister.com/2023/11/03/la-ordinance-would-protect-housing-but-remove-homeless-requirement-a-compromise-amid-union-strike/ LA ordinance would protect housing but remove homeless requirement, a compromise amid union strike – Orange County Register

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