West Hollywood’s City Council unanimously approved holding public meetings concerning the creation of a West Hollywood “Tourism Improvement District” during its Monday night meeting.
Similar to a “business improvement district,” which helps market certain business areas, the tourism improvement district would help market the city’s hotels. Eleven of the city’s 18 hotels have signed on to the plan.
“We’ve got great hotels in this city,” said Brad Burlingame, president of Visit West Hollywood, the city’s recently renamed marketing and visitors’ bureau, which would oversee the tourism improvement district.
If approved, the district would replace the existing West Hollywood Tourism Business Improvement Area and Hotel Marketing Zone, which was created in 1989. While that business improvement area is one of the oldest in the area, other cities have since formed similar BIAs and now vastly outspend West Hollywood in tourism marketing efforts, according to a report from city staff members.
West Hollywood currently spends $1.8 million on tourism marketing, compared to $4.2 million for Beverly Hills, $5.5 million for Santa Monica and $28 million for Los Angeles, including Hollywood.
If approved, the budget for the West Hollywood district would be $4 million. That extra money would come from increasing the amount taxed for each night of a hotel room stay from 1.5 percent to 3 percent. That’s on top of the 12.5 percent transient occupancy tax (TOT) also charged.
“It’s a continuation of what we’re doing already with an increased budget,” said Councilmember John Heilman.
Heilman also said he would like to require all hotels in the city to pay a living wage to its workers if the district is approved.
The smaller hotels in the city have not signed on, including the Holloway Motel, the Alta Cienega Motel, San Vicente Inn and the Charlie urban inn. Additionally, the medium-sized Sunset Tower hotel and the Palihouse hotel have not signed the petition. If the tourism improvement district is approved, all hotels must pay the assessment and tax regardless of whether they signed on.
Civitas, a Sacramento-based consulting firm specializing in setting up business improvement districts, is handling the legal paperwork behind the formation of the district.