Los Angeles City Council members have decided what to do with an initiative ordinance that would require hotels to tell the city how many rooms are vacant each afternoon, then fill the rooms every night with homeless people .
The Council decided to postpone it as far as possible.
The initiative will appear on the March 2024 primary ballot for LA voters to decide. The city council could have adopted the ordinance as written or scheduled a special election, but chose to set the measure for the next regular election scheduled in nearly two years.
The Responsible Hotel Ordinance is the brainchild of a union, Unite Here Local 11, which represents hotel workers. Here’s how it would work: Hoteliers would be required to report the number of vacant rooms in their property daily, and the city would make referrals to homeless-serving organizations and provide prepaid vouchers for a “fair market rate.”
Hotels would be prohibited from refusing to accept vouchers or discriminating against homeless customers.
Supporters of the initiative have collected signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot and insist it is needed now that the pandemic-inspired Project Roomkey program is winding down. However, Project Roomkey has committed to taking over hotels and motels and has provided full services such as meals, laundry, counseling from social workers and health services from on-site nurses.
The “Responsible Hotel Ordinance” would only include the room, as if everything else was done on its own. It’s optimistic. At Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, Project Roomkey guests protested and refused to leave when the program ended. At the Airtel Plaza hotel in Van Nuys, eight Roomkey project guests died in their rooms.
In addition to the homeless accommodation requirement, the measure would require hotels to obtain a police license to operate – a license that could be revoked, closing the hotel, if certain newly specified standards were breached. The initiative also makes it more difficult to obtain approval for a large hotel development project.
Unions have the right to negotiate aggressively for better contract terms for members, but seeking to use government force to harass and harm businesses on the other side of the bargaining table is an abuse of the initiative process. Voters should say no.