Councilmember John D’Amico also sent a strong indication that he will be serving out his last term as a City Councilmember.
At this past Monday’s City Council meeting by teleconference, Item 2G, the second reading of the Hotel Ordinance, was placed on the consent calendar.
Mayor Pro Tem Lauren Meister registered her no vote on same item. The ordinance has been controversial due to its speed and the impact it may have on West Hollywood’s hotel industry.
During councilmember comments that followed the public comment period, D’Amico echoed his disappointment with the process that pushed the Hotel Ordinance forward without any outreach to the hotels, or without a study session.
” I agree, we lacked leadership on the council for that item (2G-the Hotel Ordinance),” D’Amico said. “There were several other ways at least that we could have addressed the meat of the discussion, but I also know that we are where we are and I hope that together we can begin to repair our relationships with the hotels which I understand is broken and should be, we broke it. We ruined that relationship. So as this councilmember begins to try to mend that in the time that I have left serving this term. I certainly agree that we could have done better, especially in terms of leadership around the ideas, the outcomes, or on the solutions.
The Hotel Ordinance as brought forward by Mayor Lindsey Horvath and Councilmember Sepi Shyne has many provisions that both the Council and Hotels agree upon. The Ordinance was adopted without any outreach to the hotels and without the benefit of a study session that was recommended by D’Amico and Meister as well as the new City Manager David Wilson. Many of the worker provisions regarding harassment and right to work have already been set in place due to state law. The three council members who pushed this through all received support from the UNITE HERE Local 11 in their campaigns.
During the Public Comment period, Genevieve Morrill, president and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, spoke passionately of her disappointment in the process and politics of the ordinance. UNITE HERE Local 11 had set up multiple independent expenditure committees on behalf of Shyne and Councilmember John Erickson during the 2020 election.
Morrill stated clearly:
“The hotels NEVER OPPOSED any of the workers protections provisions in the ordinance. It is unfortunate that you chose to not make this clear and not provide the full background or allow an economic study, nor take any consideration of the very thoughtful report, or spent time to research and analyze what would be be best for West Hollywood. It is unfortunate that you didn’t have the same goal. The viciousness of your comments about the Hotel Community and that they only care about the bottom line is truly disturbing from a new Council member who was elected to represent all of our community – (referring to Council member John Erickson) not just who endorsed your campaign, and on a personal note your attacks on me and my character were deeply hurtful and and unwarranted. I represent the business community and my job is to represent their interests. We fought against a policy. I hope that moving forward we can agree to disagree without public verbal insults. We should be given the same courtesy that you extended to UNITE HERE. “
Other public comment speakers included Jeff Klein, owner of the the Sunset Tower Hotel and San Vicente Bungalows and Hotel 850.
“I oppose the process and lack of outreach to the hotels,” Klein said. “There was no consideration for the facts we put forward regarding staff shortages or economic impacts for our hotels”.
Nick Rimedio, chairman of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, chimed in: “We said since Day 1 that worker protection and safety is our number one priority. It is now clear that the process was flawed from the start given the lack of transparency as related to requests for information, most of which came back as ‘privileged.’ Why don’t the residents of this community deserve to see what is redacted or withheld? What are you hiding? And create false rhetoric with a platform to endorsing a special interest group, with rigging the system to benefit that special interest group.”
Andrew Maffei, spoke on behalf of Springboard Hospitality Group, and the owners and employees of four hotels representing 510 hotel rooms.
“There was no attempt to find meaningful compromise,” he said, “and it is our belief that adoption of this ordinance will negatively impact our staff and a generation of valuable tax dollars to the City of West Hollywood.”
The principal disagreement in the Hotel Worker Ordinance centered upon provisions that limit the number of rooms or square footage that a housekeeper can clean per day, and a new rule that requires a housekeeper who works more than an 8-hour day to receive “double the day’s pay.”
There are 22 hotels in West Hollywood. UNITE HERE Local 11 is operational in only two of West Hollywood’s hotels, the Andaz and the 1 Hotel. The UNITE HERE Local 11 workers at the Andaz or 1 Hotel are not limited by square footage or “double the days pay” rule. The effect of this ordinance is to make it economically unfeasible for the non-union hotels to operate and force them to join the union.
The Ordinance as written is expected to be challenged in court.