LA councilmembers propose law for replacement of housing lost to developments

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Seven City Council members introduced a motion Wednesday calling for the adoption of an ordinance that would require developers of new hotel properties to replace any permanent housing lost in the process.

The law would also provide the city tools to address nuisance hotels and prevent the use of short-term rentals as “party houses.” The motion was drafted by the office of Council President Paul Krekorian, and backed by council members Hugo Soto-Martinez, John Lee, Katy Yaroslavsky, Nithya Raman, Bob Blumenfield and Traci Park.

“The shortage of affordable housing in Los Angeles doesn’t just drive the crisis of homelessness in our streets,” Krekorian said in a statement. “It hurts everyone who’s looking for a home in Los Angeles.”

While the hospitality industry is a “vital and necessary” component of the local economy, Krekorian says, hotels need to welcome the thousands of visitors the city receives, but new hotel construction “cannot come at the cost of our current housing stock.”

Krekorian added, “Irresponsible hotel and short-term rental operators cannot be allowed to endanger the public safety or impair the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”

The proposed ordinance would replace a ballot measure, similar in intent, sponsored by the Unite Here Local 11 hospitality workers union, which was to appear on the March 2024 ballot. The ballot proposition will be withdrawn when the ordinance is enacted, officials said.

According to the motion, the labor union and representatives of the hotel industry have been working on a compromise ordinance in collaboration with Krekorian’s office that could replace the ballot measure.

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“This motion can be a win for everyone by setting citywide standards for hotel operations while recognizing the urgent need in our city for affordable housing,” Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez said in a statement. “Thank you to Unite Here Local 11, Council President Krekorian, and my council colleagues for your partnership in this effort to deliver for Angelenos while avoiding a costly ballot initiative.”

The proposed ordinance would require developers to replace any housing lost to hotel construction; boost community input during consideration of new hotel developments and expansions; bolster public oversight over short-term rentals, hotels and other properties that create a public nuisance when used as “party houses” or for other criminal activities; and increase the supply of interim housing available to the city.

Specifically, the ordinance would require new hotel developments to obtain a conditional use permit (CUP).

The process for obtaining the permit would involve public review that would consider the proposed development’s impact on the existing housing supply and require developers to replace any housing that would be demolished or otherwise lost in the neighborhood, according to Krekorian’s office.

In addition, it would require hotels, proposed or existing, and short- term rentals, 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.

Lastly, the proposed ordinance would create a voluntary registry in which participating hotels will notify the city of vacant rooms that can be made available for interim housing.

“I’m happy to see both the hotel industry and their employees’ union putting the interests of the entire city first in supporting this ordinance,” Krekorian said in a statement. “I hope to see this spirit of cooperation continue in the current negotiations among all the players in this essential industry.”

The motion will be considered by the Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee later this month.

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