L.A. voters to decide whether hotels must rent vacant rooms to unhoused Angelenos

A controversial measure that would require Los Angeles hotels to provide vacant rooms for the homeless will go before voters in 2024, the city council decided on Friday.

The council rejected an option that would have skipped the public vote and enacted the regulation directly, instead voting 12 to 0 to send the measure to a vote. The initiative is supported by the union Unite Here Local 11, which had already collected enough signatures to put them on the ballot.

The vote came after a long and lively public comment session, with a majority of speakers opposed to directly approving the measure.

According to the proposal, hotels would be required to regularly report the number of vacant rooms to the city’s housing department. A program run by the department would then make recommendations and pay a “fair market price” for the accommodation using prepaid vouchers. Hotels would be prohibited from discriminating against homeless Angelenos “because of their participation in this program or the fact or perception that they have no shelter.”

The proposal comes as city officials are gradually shutting down one of the signature programs fighting homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic: Project Roomkey, which turned multi-story hotels into makeshift shelters.

The proposed program has no designated source of funding and would be contingent on securing funding by July 1, 2023, according to a prosecutor’s report.

Because the proposal’s supporters had garnered enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot, when it surfaced Friday, the council had three options: include it directly in law, call a special election, or put it up for vote during the next regular election make choice. According to election time rules, this would be March 5, 2024, the primary.

If approved, the proposal would also require new projects larger than 100 rooms or units to receive a conditional occupancy permit, which would accommodate market demand for hotel and community impact.

The proposal would add new affordable housing requirements for most new hotel developments replacing existing housing units, and require the developments to include an equivalent number of new affordable housing units in the hotel or in the surrounding neighborhood.

Many hotel owners and operators vehemently opposed the proposal, arguing that it would unfairly charge hotels and affect their ability to do business.

During his public comment, Ray Patel urged all hotel owners in the space to stand up, saying their operations would be dramatically impacted if the proposal were approved outright. Instead, Patel urged the city to use Project Roomkey’s volunteer participation as a model.

“Hotels would happily offer their hotels to participate in programs as long as there is a full service that includes psychiatric services, social services, 24 hour security and someone there to hold their hand and help them find permanent housing to find,” Patel said.

Several speakers also raised concerns about the lack of detail on how the comprehensive proposal would work.

“We don’t have economic data on what it’s going to cost the city,” said Stuart Waldman, president of Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., noting the lack of funding sources and the fact that hotel room prices had not yet been determined.

“Hotels didn’t create the homelessness problem. Hotels are not the solution to the homelessness problem,” Waldman said to loud applause in the council chamber.

Richard Earle, a representative for independent insurance broker PetraRisk Solutions, argued that the program would limit hotels’ ability to obtain and maintain insurance.

“Insurance carriers will legitimately draw coverage,” Earle said. “The business is fraught with risks that affect guests and business travelers, not residents, which bring with them a whole range of separate impacts.”

But Carly Kirchen, an organizer at Unite Here Local 11, argued that hoteliers and associations were unfairly prejudiced against unaccommodated Angelenos.

“The hoteliers want you to believe that every homeless person is sick enough to pose a threat to those around them. But this myth argument misrepresents who is actually experiencing homelessness,” Kirchen said, explaining that hotel workers are among the hardest hit by the housing crisis, with thousands of their members at risk of eviction.

“Even as a union member with a well-paying job, I’ve recently been homeless due to the housing shortage in our city,” said Bambian Taft, who posed as a hotel minibar attendant and former housekeeper. Taft said she recently paid out of her own pocket to stay in hotels with her daughters while there was “no work for me at the hotel.”

She was one of a few hotel employees who supported the proposal.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-05/initiative-would-require-l-a-hotels-to-provide-rooms-to-homeless-people L.A. voters to decide whether hotels must rent vacant rooms to unhoused Angelenos

Alley Einstein

USTimesPost.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimespost.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button