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Hotel Lawyer: Los Angeles City Council Withdraws Controversial Ballot Initiative

07 December 2023

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On December 5, 2023, the Los Angeles City Council removed a contentious measure from the March 2024 ballot which would have required hotels in the city to provide accommodation for homeless individuals alongside paying customers. The proposed ordinance, initially sponsored by hospitality worker union UNITE HERE Local 11, was withdrawn at the request of the union following a compromise ordinance.

UNITE HERE Local 11’s original proposal would have compelled hotels to report their vacancies to the city of Los Angeles Housing Department. Individuals or families would then be given a “market rate” voucher for payment at these locations which the hotels would not be able to refuse.

The measure faced sharp criticism from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers accused Unite Here of creating “an atmosphere of dangerous uncertainty for hotel employees, hoteliers and the City of Los Angeles.” He characterized the proposal as a bargaining chip rather than a genuine effort to tackle the homelessness issue. Following the withdrawal of the ballot measure, Rogers expressed gratitude to the LA City Council for brokering a compromise that removed what he called UNITE HERE’s “ridiculous homeless-in-hotels proposal” from consideration. He emphasized the importance of prioritizing the safety and security of hotel employees and guests, urging leaders in LA and other cities to learn from this episode and put safety first in future dealings with Unite Here.

In order to avert UNITE HERE’s ballot measure, the LA City Council approved a compromise ordinance to replace the original proposal. This new ordinance includes provisions aimed at enhancing public oversight of short-term rentals, hotels, and other properties. Additionally, it seeks to increase the supply of interim housing available in the city and requires developers of new hotel proprieties to replace any permanent housing lost in the building process. The compromise reflects the council’s effort to address concerns raised by UNITE HERE while also taking into account the interests of the AHLA and the broader community.

Picture of Jim ButlerThis is Jim Butler, author of and founding partner of JMBM and JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®. We provide business and legal advice to hotel owners, developers, independent operators and investors. This advice covers critical hotel issues such as hotel purchase, sale, development, financing, franchise, management, ADA, and IP matters. We also have compelling experience in hotel litigation, union avoidance and union negotiations, and cybersecurity & data privacy.

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® has been involved in more than $125 billion of hotel transactions and more than 4,700 hotel properties located around the globe. Contact me at +1-310-201-3526 or to discuss how we can help.

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