a bed with a lamp and a table
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Los Angeles Hotels to Not Be Required to House Homeless Residents After All

A compromise was reached before the proposal was on the ballot.

Hotel properties in Los Angeles will not be required to house homeless residents after all under the proposed Los Angeles Responsible Hotel Ordinance, as the president of the City Council of Los Angeles supposedly reached a compromise with Unite Here Local 11.

Los Angeles Hotels to Not Be Required to House Homeless Residents After All

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Members of the City Council of Los Angeles unanimously voted on Friday, August 5, 2022 to ensure that a proposal — which would have required hotel and motel properties in the city to use vacant rooms to house homeless people — will be on the ballot in March of 2024. That will not happen after all because Paul Krekorian reportedly proposed a revised version of the initiative with the union and representatives of the lodging industry, which promises to:

  • Empower residents to have a say with regard to plans for the development and expansion of hotel and motel properties in their areas
  • Structure a program that provides temporary housing to individuals and families who are considered to be homeless
  • Protect the supply of housing by requiring developers of new hotel properties to replace any permanent housing lost in the process
  • Provide the city with tools to address hotel properties that are considered to be a “nuisance” and “irresponsible”
  • Prevent the use of short-term rental properties as “party houses”
  • Require hotel and motel properties — proposed or existing — and short-term rental properties to obtain a police permit through a process that would screen owners and operators of such properties for prior criminal activity or any history of creating a public nuisance

UNITE HERE Local 11 is the union which represents greater than 32,000 workers in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas, and convention centers throughout Southern California and Arizona — and had been in favor of the proposal, which is designed to help get people off of the streets and into a comfortable room.

Had the proposal become a law, management of hotel and motel properties would have been required to notify the city of what rooms are still available by 2:00 every afternoon. The establishments would then be required to take in a homeless individual in exchange for a voucher at “fair market” rate from the city — meaning that homeless people would be accommodated alongside paying guests of hotel and motel properties.

How those vouchers would have been funded — as well as exactly who would have ultimately funded those vouchers — had never been specified or defined.

Los Angeles is the sixth-largest hotel market in the United States, with greater than 1,000 hotel and motel properties which are comprised of almost 99,000 rooms. Many organizations were vociferous about how adamantly they opposed the proposal. Some organizers of large conferences who had heard about the housing initiative were already considering having other cities host their events.

Final Boarding Call

voco Saint James Hotel New Orleans
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Rooms at hotel and motel properties which would otherwise remain empty for the night if not sold to paying guests initially seems like a viable way to temporarily reduce the number of homeless people on the streets in general — but a plethora of other problems and issues may potentially surface as a result. For example, will the insurance policies of hotel and motel properties increase significantly as a result?

Although I would like to see homelessness end — every person should be able to have access to a reasonably clean and comfortable place to live — I was not sure that the proposed Los Angeles Responsible Hotel Ordinance was the right way to proceed. The reported compromise allows the community to be involved in the process — but could that also lead to a “not in my backyard” mentality?

Homelessness is not an easy problem to fix immediately — let alone in general — but I am not sure that the revision of the original proposal will be the effective answer to homelessness either…

All photographs ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!