Dear Residents of West Hollywood, Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath, Councilmembers Sepi Shyne, John M. Erickson and John D’Amico, Mayor Pro Tem Lauren Meister, and City Manager David Wilson:
We are a group of local hotel staff members made up of housekeepers, housemen and front desk agents. Many of us have worked in West Hollywood hotels for decades and we are proud to be a part of this community that has sustained us and helped provide for our families. We are writing to you today with an important message regarding the Hotel Workers Ordinance set to come before City Council on July 19th.
While the pandemic has touched every business across West Hollywood, hotels suffered the most severe prolonged negative impact. Experts predict that hotels will take many years to fully recover, with some hotels likely never reopening again. Our industry is currently experiencing significant labor shortages for hotels that have reopened. Hotel workers are not returning to work from our recall lists, and hundreds of positions remain unfilled. Now is not the time to pass the burdensome Hotel Workers Ordinance, which will harm the very workers that the Ordinance claims to protect. Why are West Hollywood’s governmental leaders attacking the hotel industry instead of offering desperately needed help, like other cities?
West Hollywood’s hotels play a critical role in our community. We support apprenticeship and opportunity youth advancement programs for existing and future employees. We provide training and education for thousands of California workers. We support local charities, community groups, artists, and the disadvantaged. We do this passionately and voluntarily. We provide the same level of hospitality to our communities as we do for our associates and guests.
The proposed Ordinance will be significantly harmful to the earnings of hotel workers. The City Council received letters signed by our room attendants in West Hollywood stating their opposition to a square footage workload limitation. It reduces tip income, overtime wages, and incentive compensation. Our room attendants don’t understand why West Hollywood’s Leaders (predominately white) are constructing an Ordinance that targets them and slashes the income of female minorities. How can the Council take away their hard-earned money?
Because most hotels cannot pass on the additional costs triggered by the Ordinance to their guests, many hotels will be forced to cut services and jobs as they scramble to comply with the new job restrictions mandated by the Ordinance. That’s a concern for the City, and ultimately the West Hollywood community. Over time, the burdens created by the Ordinance will lead to hotel operators reducing the size and quality of their hotel rooms in West Hollywood. This will reduce tax revenue available for social programs while attracting a potentially lower-quality hotel guest to West Hollywood.
The proposed Ordinance will also make West Hollywood’s hotels less competitive than Beverly Hills and Los Angeles who don’t have the same burdensome 3,500 square feet cleaning restrictions. Since this Ordinance focuses on the square footage of a guestroom, a competitive advantage for West Hollywood will now be a disadvantage. The average hotel room in West Hollywood is 75% larger than an average room in Los Angeles and 40% larger than a room in Santa Monica but takes the same time to clean. It’s almost as if Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica wrote this Ordinance to hurt West Hollywood’s hotels while helping their hotels and economies.
This Ordinance will also harm the environment. The new proposed cleaning protocols will cause all hotels to use more water, chemicals, and energy while increasing waste. Given the city’s progress towards sustainable initiatives in West Hollywood, why would it pass an Ordinance that damages the environment?
The hotel community supports many provisions in the Ordinance. We support fair living wages for all, temporary recall rights during this time of recovery, panic buttons, and other worker safety initiatives. In fact, the hotels in West Hollywood have publicly stated our support for all of these initiatives. But we cannot support the 3,500 square feet workload limitation given the destructive long-term impact this will have on full-time hotel workers, almost 100% of which are women and minorities.
Hotels fund almost half of the city’s budget through hotel, payroll, and related taxes to support the city’s spending and social programs – hotels are essential to the present and future of West Hollywood. We want to partner with residents and city leaders to create a better future for everyone in West Hollywood, with a particular focus on women, minorities, LGBTQ+, the homeless, and those with disabilities.
If we all agree that supporting hotel workers is essential, the answer to this problem is simple. The City should immediately reconsider its Ordinance and work with the hotel industry to protect hotel workers’ mental and financial well-being, especially as our industry attempts to recover from this crushing pandemic. We stand ready to partner in a constructive way to achieve these goals. We hope West Hollywood will join us.
Marta, Executive Housekeeper of The Montrose West Hollywood
Patricia, Housekeeping Supervisor of The Montrose West Hollywood
Tsedey, Front Office Manager of The Montrose West Hollywood
Jose, Executive Housekeeper of The Chamberlain West Hollywood
Jason, Hotel Manager of The Grafton on Sunset
Farhat, Executive Housekeeper of Le Parc Suites Hotel
Tony, Houseman at Le Parc Suites Hotel