A measure that would compel hotels with vacancies to house homeless people alongside guests could turn establishments into squatter dens, the head of the largest hotel association in the US has warned.
Chip Rogers, President of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), aired the warning Wednesday – forecasting what he thinks will happen if the ‘Responsible Hotel Ordinance’ passes on the March 2024 ballot.
The proposal echoes the previously established ‘Project Roomkey’ – a hotel housing initiative that began in the pandemic – but is separate and exclusive to The City of Angels.
While distinct to the initiative – which lasted nearly three years and cost taxpayers $3.75 billion – it would take the same idea, but would set it in stone as law.
Speaking to Fox News, Rogers – already an open critic of the ordinance – publicly panned the plan, citing how it would force hotels to inform the city when they have unoccupied rooms and give out vouchers to homeless guests.
A measure that would compel LA’s most luxurious hotels – such as the Beverly Hills Four Season on Rodeo Drive – to house homeless people alongside guests could turn hotels into squatter dens, the head of the largest hotel association in the US has warned
Chip Rogers, President of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), aired the warning Wednesday – forecasting what he thinks will happen if the ‘Responsible Hotel Ordinance’ passes on the March 2024 ballot
‘You will have squatters,’ he said, before describing why he believes it’s a bad idea.
‘Imagine if you give someone who’s experiencing homelessness a voucher, and they go to a hotel and they don’t want to leave. What are you going to do?
‘You don’t have their credit card or their identification,’ the Rogers added. ‘You’re going to have to call law enforcement – and in law enforcement, they don’t want to be responding to things like this.’
Representing more than 32,000 lodging property members across the country, Rogers went on to state that his primary concern is the safety of hotel staff – the ones he said would be most affected if the initiative passes.
He also anticipated how it could lead to a collapse of the city’s economy – echoing remarks delivered to Forbes last month, where he said officials were unfairly forcing the burden of a years-long housing crisis on his industry.
The city’s most iconic and luxurious facilities – such as 1 Hotel West Hollywood, Hotel Bel-Air, The Georgian, and The Beverly Hills Hotel – are all subject to the looming law, which Rogers warned not only could spell doom for the industry, but LA as a whole.
He told the outlet: ‘Safety is the most important concern… I think [it] will quickly lead to total destruction of the L.A. city hotel market.
‘We polled consumers who travel,’ he went on, speaking to the news station over the phone.
‘Of those who intended to go to LA, 72 percent of them said they won’t go if this happens.
‘Those who’ve already been to Los Angeles before they were planning to go back,’ he added, ‘over 80 percent of those travelers say, “I’m not going to go if this passes.”‘
The proposal echoes the previously established ‘Project Roomkey’ – a hotel housing initiative that began in the pandemic – but is separate and confined to The City of Angels
While distinct to the two-and-half-year initiative – which cost taxpayers $3.75 billion – it would take the same idea, but would set it in stone as law
The pandemic-era plan lasted nearly three years, and saw California cities rented out entire hotel rooms to more than 10,000 homeless in Los Angeles alone
At that point in the interview, Rogers – who represents big names like the Hilton and Hyatt – turned his attention to the group that proposed the plan, Unite Here.
Representing roughly 300,000 hotel staff themselves, the hotel and casino labor union billed the ordinance as a solution to the city’s well-known problems – sentiments Rogers on Wednesday cast doubt on.
“I don’t know what they’re doing,’ he said of the group, which represents several thousand staffers in California.
‘I can’t find any rational thought process that would lead you to promote this policy.’
Calling them confusing and even nonsensical, he questioned the union’s motives – asking, ‘Why would you ever propose something that would put your own members in physical danger?’
‘They haven’t answered that question – hey don’t seem to answer this question to the underlying policy at all,’ he continued – calling on onlookers to question the union plan.
Rogers – already an open critic of the ordinance – on Wednesday publicly panned the plan, which would force hotels to inform the city when they have unoccupied rooms and give out vouchers to homeless guests
He also anticipated how it could lead to a collapse of the city’s economy – echoing remarks delivered to Forbes last month, where he said officials were unfairly forcing the burden of a years-long housing crisis on his industry
‘It’s hard for me to understand what they’re trying to accomplish… I really wish people would question the union leadership.’
Currently, LA has roughly 1,000 hotels within its city limits – all of which would be at the mercy of the brewing law.
In a post to its website, the union responsible touted ‘a massive increase in new hotel development in recent years’ as a sideways solution for the outsized number of people experiencing homelessness – which it conceded ‘has skyrocketed’ while the ‘City’s affordable housing crisis has grown.’
It concluded how hotels ‘could be used to help alleviate the City’s need for affordable housing’ – which by some estimates, has LA 3.5-million housing units short of what is needed to accommodate its current population.
Citing such statistics, Rogers said the plan could effectively turn the city’s hotels into homeless shelters – before walking back that severe prediction somewhat, admitting he did not want to ‘jump the gun.’
Commenting on property damages, he said hotel owners experienced during Project Roomkey through 2020 to 2022 – which he called ‘significant and well-documented’ – he theorized: ‘We would imagine the same behavior patterns would occur here.’
Conceding how that potential reality ‘remains to be seen’, Rogers said the plan would ’cause immediate job loss and hotels to go under rather quickly.’
Citing property damages he said hotel owners experienced during Project Roomkey through 2020 to 2022 – which he called ‘significant and well-documented’ – he theorized: ‘We would imagine the same behavior patterns would occur here.’
The cities most iconic and luxurious facilities like the Westin Bonaventure(left) and the Hotel Bel-Air (right) – are all subject to the looming guidance, which could spell doom for not only the industry, Rogers on Wednesday warned
He said prospective patrons will without a doubt be turned off by the idea of sharing quarters with the city’s many vagrants, who for the past several years have taken to erecting well-equipped encampments across the city’s streets.
‘I just think that the immediate reaction to this is going to be a significant downturn in occupancy,’ he said.
Of the impending vote, he said Unite has until December to pull its initiative from the March 2024 ballot.
He warned the union’s top execs: “Stop playing around with the safety of your own members.
‘Hotel workers deserve to be protected. We who represent [the] hotel industry believe they deserve to be protected.’
‘The second message to Los Angeles voters,’ he added ‘if this remains on the ballot, [and] if Unite Here doesn’t do the right thing, we have to resoundingly defeat this. It will hurt the local economy.
‘It will cost jobs. It will not help the homeless and L.A. will again be in a position where they’re going to have to defend something that is indefensible,’ the union boss said
‘It will cost jobs. It will not help the homeless and L.A. will again be in a position where they’re going to have to defend something that is indefensible.’
Hotel industry spokespeople, meanwhile, have theorized the ballot measure is a negotiating tactic by the union, which is currently on a rolling strike against unionized hotels in Los Angeles.
The ordinance will be voted on early next year, with hotel staffers and owners by and large openly against it.
Financing for the potential venture, moreover, has not been set, nor has anyone specified who will set the ‘market rate’ for vouchers.
As previously mentioned, hotel owners and operators will have no discretion on whether to accept or decline new guests, and many have expressed concerns that vouchers could be used as a de facto “street currency” in open air markets.
Backed by virtually entire LA hotel scene, Rogers said last month: ‘I don’t think they are attempting to purposely kill the golden goose of tourism.
‘This is a terrible idea, and we will speak loudly about it.’