Los Angeles

Homeless in LA Hotels, A Threat to Tourism?

More than 70% of Americans express reservations about booking hotel rooms in Los Angeles due to a potential policy that could mandate hotels to accommodate homeless individuals alongside regular guests.

This sentiment is based on a recent survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and executed by Morning Consult.

In March 2024, the citizens of Los Angeles will cast their votes. They’ll decide on a ballot initiative introduced by Unite Here, a labor union representing hotel employees in the LA region. This initiative, if approved, will mark a historic move, making LA the inaugural American city to mandate hotels to house the homeless alongside paying customers.

The Impact on LA’s Tourism

The AHLA’s survey underscores the potential repercussions of such a policy on LA’s tourism sector. Conducted between September 18-20, 2023, the poll engaged 2,203 American adults and revealed:

  • A significant 72% would reconsider booking a hotel in LA under the proposed policy. This percentage escalates to 83% for those who’ve previously toured LA.
  • Leisure or vacation trips to LA would be rethought by 71% of respondents if the policy takes effect. This sentiment rises to 80% among prior LA visitors.
  • Business conferences in LA would see a potential drop, with 70% of Americans expressing hesitancy. For those familiar with LA, this figure reaches 79%.
  • Safety concerns for hotel staff and guests resonate with 71% of the participants.
  • A similar 71% are apprehensive about potential compromises in hotel amenities.
  • Property damage risks concern 70% of the respondents.
  • A notable 75% believe the policy overlooks the root causes of homelessness, while 74% feel it neglects the long-term housing requirements of the homeless.

The City of Los Angeles Initiative, Referendum & Recall Petition Handbook indicates that Unite Here retains the right to retract the ballot initiative. However, this must occur 88 days before the election, setting the deadline for December 8.

Yet, Unite Here remains steadfast. The union’s leaders emphasize the housing of homeless individuals in hotels during their negotiations with LA hotels. They’ve even sought hotel endorsements for this contentious practice.

The Los Angeles City Council has not yet deliberated on the potential economic ramifications of this policy. AHLA urges the council to promptly conduct an economic impact assessment and articulate their position on the ballot measure.

AHLA’s President & CEO, Chip Rogers, commented on the issue, emphasizing the complexity of homelessness. He stated, “Homelessness requires specialized intervention from trained professionals. The proposal to involve hotel staff and guests is perilous.” Rogers warned of the potential decline of LA’s hotel industry, asserting, “Safety concerns will deter potential employees and divert tourists elsewhere. The survey results validate this concern. We urge Unite Here to reconsider their stance on transforming hotels into shelters, whether in LA or elsewhere.”

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