WeHo citizens, businesses fight back against hotel worker ordinance

Concerned West Hollywood residents, workers and businesses today announced the formation of Save Our Services West Hollywood (S.O.S. WeHo) as a response to the City Council’s refusal to conduct an economic study of the proposed hotel tourism cap ordinance while considering its budget which was approved 3-1. The newly formed group plans to engage in extensive community conversation as well as social media efforts and a press conference to be scheduled in July. 

At the city council meeting last night, the anti-business councilmembers led by Mayor Lindsey Horvath passed the flawed budget and disregarded multiple calls for study from Mayor Pro Tempore Lauren Meister as well as West Hollywood residents and members of the business community. Incoming City Manager David Wilson, who at the previous council meeting on June 5 strongly recommended a study session on the hotel ordinance, confirmed that the budget contained no financial impacts related to the item, which are estimated to be as high as $20 million dollars.

The ordinance places arbitrary restrictions on WeHo’s hotel industry, which is historically the largest single source of tax income for the city. Hotel guests are also a large percentage of visitors to the city’s renowned dining, shopping, and nightlife scene, so the related sales tax impact by restricting tourism would be devastating to those small businesses.  With the combined losses of both hotel tax and sales tax, the city government revenues would be significantly reduced, resulting in severe cuts to funding for essential city services including combatting homelessness, treating substance abuse, supporting seniors, and promoting post-pandemic recovery. 

The alternative to cutting city staff and resident services is running deficits that draw down the city’s financial reserves, which were built over decades of successful leadership by prior city councils. Two years of deficits have taken a heavy toll, however, with an estimated reduction of $37 million (or 27% of available cash) from the beginning of COVID through the end of the coming fiscal year. Further reductions, exasperated by the hotel ordinance, could also result in a negative change to the city’s credit rating of AAA, which allows borrowing for capital projects such as the West Hollywood Park.    

“Poorly disguised as a safety measure for hotel workers, the proposed tourism cap would devastate the economic engine that helps fund critical government programs we all rely on,” said Genevieve Morrill, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “By effectively capping overnight visitors to our city, this dangerous measure would have a ripple effect across West Hollywood businesses – making a full recovery from these devastating times nearly impossible for struggling small business owners.”

The tourism cap under consideration is deceptively dubbed a safety measure for hotel workers, but the ordinance doesn’t add any new protections. Instead, it places an arbitrary cap on work assignments at hotels, reducing capacity and taking away hours from workers when working families need a regular income the most. Instead of helping workers, the ordinance would result in less dollars earned and fewer job opportunities for essential workers that are most dependent on a strong economic boost from the post-pandemic tourism recovery. 

The impact on the hotels, local businesses, workers, and resident services is significant just as businesses begin recovery. During the pandemic, hotel tax revenues dropped over 40%, creating a multi-million-dollar deficit for the city government. Specifically, a recent hotel survey found the following potential impacts that will result from the proposed tourism cap impacting not only hotel taxes but also sales tax generated by hotel guests who support local restaurants, bars, and shops: 

  • Potential losses in Hotel Taxes (TOT):                                   $9.9 million
  • Potential losses in WeHo Tourism Assessments:                 $2.4 million
  • Potential losses in Sales Tax                                                  $8.2 million
  • Potential losses in City tax revenues from Ordinance:    $20.4 million

To put this into context, this rushed proposed ordinance could cost the city up to $20 million in the first year alone including the impact to sales tax. That’s more than the entire city budget for social services, including all funds put towards Rent Stabilization, homeless services, senior services, HIV prevention, and many others. 

The survey further found that up to $2.1 million in current overtime paid to housekeepers will be eliminated and that opportunities for gratuities will be cut in half, limiting the opportunity for interested housekeepers to earn more for themselves and their families. 

West Hollywood hotels already comply with and exceed regulations for worker safety, including State of California Recall & Retention laws, and mandatory sexual harassment and human trafficking prevention training. Hotels offer annual safety training, worksite evaluations, and provide personal protection devices – also known as “panic buttons” – for every employee who works alone. Furthermore, all West Hollywood hotels coordinate with the Sheriff’s Department for safety protocols and even provide health services such as free cholesterol and blood pressure testing, flu shot programs, regular on-site doctor availability, and even engagement with ergonomics professionals – well above and beyond the redundant safety measures proposed within the misleading council ordinance. 

Instead of protecting workers, the arbitrary regulations to be imposed by the ordinance create a tourism cap that would limit job opportunities, dampen West Hollywood’s economic recovery, and reduce funding for essential city services. Hotel costs would increase while hotel capacity would decrease, leading to a tourist exodus towards competing cities, like Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. 

“We are gravely concerned that the majority of the West Hollywood City Council refused to approve a sorely needed economic impact study of the proposed ordinance before approving it’s budget, which we believe constitutes violations of the city’s plan as it pertains to PSG-3: Fiscal Sustainability and other goals in the city plan,” according to a joint statement issued by the West Hollywood Hotel Council which is comprised of 18 West Hollywood hotels. “The consequences of the proposed ordinance would be far-reaching, reducing full-time jobs and earnings for many hospitality workers and slashing tax revenue that West Hollywood desperately needs to support its social services and spending programs. This ultimately means that the residents of West Hollywood will have to make up the shortfalls with higher taxes or fewer services.”

Save Our Services West Hollywood is urging the City Council to oppose this misleading hotel tourism cap. Residents, business leaders, and hospitality workers all demand that West Hollywood Save Our Services.

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Lou Thomas
Lou Thomas
10 months ago

Just received a slick mailer from “S.O.S. Weho” promoting this same anti-worker message. This is clearly the work of an industry lobby. As a 30+ year resident, I fully support Council’s efforts to ensure hotel worker rights. Some here are calling this an editorial disguised as news, but to me it seems more like a paid political announcement.

Michael Carter
Michael Carter
10 months ago

By means of fear-mongering, the above article in WeHoVille provides a distortion of the facts. Tourism cap. Bah. That it obviously comes from a place of privilege, it mocks what it feigns to support; namely social services. Greed is the mother of invention here to prevent better working conditions and to stifle those citizens who wish to grasp for a middle class living standard.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
10 months ago

This is unadulterated bull pucky. These figures are simply fictional fear mongering. There is nothing in this proposal that includes a “tourism cap”. “Contributor” should really identify himself, herself, themself. It would also help to know who heads up “Save our Services”; it is probably some janitor working at the Chamber of Commerce. Unknown front groups with unknown advocates does not bring a lot of credibility to this article or this publication. If all of this were true, wouldn’t we be hearing horror stories from Long Beach and Santa Monica where this proposal has already been in effect? Keep in… Read more »

Mecurial Mike
Mecurial Mike
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Love your quote: SOS is probably “some janitor working at the Chamber of Commerce.” I thought the place was just a one woman office. What do you need this ordinance for anyway? All the major hotels just need to be unionized? And if the greedy hotels don’t go for it, then Hollywood should boycott against all these major West Hollywood hotels. Like they did with Chateau Marmont. Label their CEOs racists, since the Union is run here by Latinos, along with being anti-union, add anti-gay, anti-furries. Anything to humiliate the CEOs who are probably all white straight males like the… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Mecurial Mike
Randy
Randy
10 months ago

I agree that a study should take place. It should be noted, however, that the cities of Santa Monica and Long Beach enacted similar ordinances, and I was told that it had no negative impact on their hotels.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
10 months ago

Hard to take this website seriously…..when the owner has a business that sells mens underwear on the sidewalk.

Factsplease
Factsplease
10 months ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

You frequently write about taking people seriously and the need for serious people in West Hollywood. Yet you spend a good amount of time posting here and seem upset that you’ve somehow landed in city founded by gay leaders that leans extremely liberal.

Hard to take anyone who’s moved here without understanding the city seriously. Did you miss the rainbow flags, gay bars and history when you drove through? Complaining and kvetching without involvement doesn’t represent seriousness. It’s just more Don Quixote whining.

Randy
Randy
10 months ago
Reply to  Factsplease

He’s just here to stir the pot. Says mostly negative things, and usually contrarian to almost everyone. He has an unusual name. I wonder if it is an alias. I wonder if he even lives in our community. Regardless, he’s just here to stir the pot.

Randy
Randy
10 months ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Then why do you comment on so many articles? Why do you read it?

Michael
Michael
10 months ago

As a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, I totally support unionizing all hotel workers in West Hollywood. What is absolutely ludicrous and so hypocritical is West Hollywood claims to be the bastion of liberal Democrats. As far as these big hotels go, they are owned by chains, which are owned by bigger conglomerates. So the Ramada Inn is owned by Wyndham Hotels. The La Peer Hotel, a Kimptom Hotel is owned by Intercontinental Hotels These are all headed by greedy CEOs pulling down millions of dollars a year. The major problem that could arise with this anti-union stand… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Michael
Randy
Randy
10 months ago
Reply to  Michael

How can you say the City Council is anti-union, when this ordinance is being backed, and pushed by a union, who also supported these two new Council Members? UNITE HERE is the union.

I also believe they enacted the “hero pay,” after being pushed by a grocery workers union.

https://wehoville.com/2021/06/24/op-ed-union-gets-unprecedented-seat-at-the-table/

Patrick Shandrick
Patrick Shandrick
10 months ago

As long-term West Hollywood resident and a 7-year member of the City of West Hollywood’s Human Service Commission, I urge City Council to take a step-back and allow a study session (as suggested by the City Manager & as well as the Mayor Pro Tempore) happen around the economic and social impacts of the proposed Hotel Worker Ordinance so that council, commissions, and citizens can truly understand the full breadth of the proposed ordinance—before a vote is taken. The City of West Hollywood has been a model in providing social services and health education to the community.  My concern is an impact… Read more »

Kyle
Kyle
10 months ago

This is extremely deceptive. This is the hotel industry trying to get more Hotels built. The personal attacks on City Council members are unprofessional. I don’t like the number of Hotels that have been approved within WeHo, but this is misinformation. Also, it lumps Bar revenue into the overall potential loss. Does the Tourism Cap actually directly affect bars and restaurants? Last time I checked people who stay in Hollywood still come to WeHo for the bars and restaurants. Nothing is clearly stated about what the Hotel Cap actually does, it just provides numbers as it relates to a period… Read more »

Tom
Tom
10 months ago

Is that a story or an op-ed?

Michael
Michael
10 months ago

It’s time to put the nail in the coffin of the Unisex toilet three who are against business, residents of West Hollywood, improvement of city services etc all at the expense of their lunatic WOKE boring dreary nonsense. So just start a recall of Lindsey Horvath. That will kill her candidacy for the Los Angeles county supervisor and I am sure she will never be re-elected to the West Hollywood City Council. She portrays herself as a Barbie doll but she is a middle-aged woman who is turning 40 next year. The problem with her biography on her county candidacy… Read more »

Kings Road
Kings Road
10 months ago

Good god. This isn’t journalism. This is an opinion piece disguised as a news article. Wehoville has become the Fox News of Weho.

I look forward to Hank’s latest Facebook commentary on this article (written by the Wehoville FB profile of course).

Cy Husain
10 months ago

Concerned West Hollywood residents 🧐 (wealthy mega property owners who want home prices to skyrocket), workers 😲 (saying exactly what their employers want to hear) and, businesses 👿 (99.99999% in control of this astroturf movement) are part of S.O.S. WeHo promoting business knows best policy. Their youtube page setup less than a week ago features “workers” promoting business interests that look just like ISIS videos of locals claiming ISIS really fixed up their neighborhood. This is just the corporate board room trying to usurp Democracy again❗🤦‍♀️

William Seegmiller
10 months ago
Reply to  Cy Husain

If Unite Here wasn’t holding unionization as a guillotine blade over the necks of our WeHo hotels, maybe people would have more confidence in their intents with the proposed labor ordinance. Instead, here organized labor is acting like a mob faction offering their “protection” or “something bad could happen to your industry”. Unite here is acting in bad faith using relationships with Council to overstep public input, embarrassingly astroturfed “worker voices”, electoral bribery and special paybacks.. all plain to see at our city council meetings. Let’s get real- at this point much of union leadership has proven itself to be… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by William Seegmiller
Cy Husain
10 months ago

More like I would suggest you honestly look into the history of the labor movement and note that it’s Unions like Unite Here that have consistently looked out for the interests of its members along with workers in general as opposed to wealthy business owners.

Muckraking Mike
Muckraking Mike
10 months ago
Reply to  Cy Husain

As a member of the Writers Guild and Dramatist Guild, I support this union. As for the hotels, if they are independent or “mom and pop” hotels like The Charlie, the ordinance shouldn’t apply. But, if they are hotels part of a chain, like Hyatt, Ramada, Pendry, Mariott etc…YES! Take a look at the greedy CEOs of these hotel chains. Cut their multi-million-dollar salaries. BUT in supporting the housekeeper union, let’s negate all so-called unions associated with West Hollywood City Hall. Like the one (he/him) John Erickson was running and backed his campaign. Their salaries aren’t negotiated, and they make… Read more »

Cy Husain
10 months ago

Free market fairyland does NOT exist because the NOTHING exists outside Public Policy to keep the wealthy business owners from exerting their undue influence.

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