LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The City Council Tuesday approved a request to officially withdraw a measure from the March 2024 ballot that would have required all hotels in the city to house homeless people next to paying guests.
The council voted 14-0 on the matter with Councilwoman Nithya Raman absent during the vote. The council approved a compromise ordinance, known as the Responsible Hotel Ordinance, that was part of a deal to avert Unite Here Local 11 hospitality workers union's ballot initiative.
The ordinance was co-authored by Council President Paul Krekorian's office, Unite Here and representatives of the hotel industry. With passage of the ordinance, Unite Here formerly requested city officials remove the initiative from the March 2024 ballot last week.
According to Krekorian's office, the ordinance will require developers of new hotel proprieties to replace any permanent housing lost in the building process.
The ordinance includes provisions to bolster public oversight over short-term rentals, hotels and other properties, and increase the supply of interim housing available to the city.
Hotel developments will be required to obtain a permit from the Department of City Planning. The process will also involve public review of a proposed development's impact on the existing housing supply and require developers to replace any housing that would be demolished or otherwise lost in a neighborhood.
Under the ordinance, the city will create a voluntary registry in which participating hotels would notify the city of vacant rooms that can be made available for interim housing.
In addition, hotels, short-term rentals and motel owners will be required to obtain a police permit for operation. Additionally, owners and operators will be screened for prior criminal activity or any history of creating a public nuisance, such as so-called "party houses."
The ballot initiative, called the "Hotel Land Use, Replacement Housing, and Police Permit Requirements; Program Placing Unhoused Individuals in Vacant Hotel Rooms," had similar measures as the ordinance the council approved, but it would have required hotels to use vacant rooms for interim housing for unhoused people.
Following the council's vote to withdraw Unite Here's initiative, the American Hotel Lodging Association -- the largest hotel association in America representing more than 30,000 members -- issued a statement applauding the City Council for brokering a compromise to get the "homeless-in-hotels" measure off the ballot.
"For nearly two years, Unite Here created an atmosphere of dangerous uncertainty for hotel employees, hoteliers, and the city of Los Angeles by clinging to a proposal virtually everyone thinks is outrageous -- forcing hotels to house homeless people next to paying guests," AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers said in a statement.
Rogers, critical of Unite Here, added, "With its actions in L.A., Unite Here showed that even the safety and security of its own members is up for negotiation. We urge leaders in L.A. and other cities to use this episode to inform their future interactions with Unite Here and to put hotel employee and guest safety first, even when Unite Here refuses to do so."