Over a thousand room attendants, cooks and servers with tools of their trade–beds, bell carts, mops–marched in downtown LA today asking the hotel executives attending the American Lodging Investment Summit, “the largest hotel investment conference in the world,” to step up and help solve the region’s housing crisis.
- Ensuring hotel developments do not displace affordable housing
- Establishing a program similar to the successful Project Roomkey to provide temporary lodging for unhoused families and individuals.
- Read the full text of the Responsible Hotel Ordinance.
Demand Endorsement of Responsible Hotel Ordinance & Higher Wages to Afford Rent
Los Angeles: Over a thousand room attendants, cooks and servers with tools of their trade–beds, bell carts, mops–marched in downtown LA today asking the hotel executives attending the American Lodging Investment Summit, “the largest hotel investment conference in the world,” to step up and help solve the region’s housing crisis.
“I live in Apple Valley with my husband, our two sons, and my mother. Los Angeles is in the middle of a housing crisis and the hotel industry is perpetuating the decrease in affordable housing. Even with 5 people in one household, I cannot afford to live closer to the JW Marriott L.A Live where I work. I sometimes only sleep 2-3 hours a night. This is no way to live.” said Brenda Mendoza, uniform attendant of 15 years.
“Although I welcome guests arriving into LAX every day, I cannot afford to live in Los Angeles. After my apartment building was brought up, my rent went from $925 to $1325 overnight. I have seen how so many senior citizens became homeless because they could not keep up with the rising cost of rent. I am barely hanging on.” said Eleanor Ramos, bartender at LAX for 26 years.
“I have to work two full time jobs and the only place I could afford a home in was California City. I sleep in my car in between jobs. How can anyone achieve the American dream if this is what it costs?” said Leticia, a housekeeper at the Glendale Hilton for 22 years.
UNITE HERE Local 11 contended that the hotel industry’s historically poverty wage jobs and its irresponsible hotel development, which does not prioritize housing concerns, contribute to working Angelenos’ inability to afford to live in Los Angeles.
“At the investment conference thousands of hotel executives are celebrating record profits because they are making more money than they were before the pandemic. Meanwhile the workers who make the industry prosperous have to live two hours away because they cannot afford to live where they work. The industry needs to help solve the housing crisis by paying a living wage and endorsing the Responsible Hotel ordinance.” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.
The workers also demanded that these hotel executives endorse the Responsible Hotel Ordinance and commit to increase hospitality worker wages. UNITE HERE Local 11 members collected a record 126,000 signatures from LA residents to place the Responsible Hotel Ordinance on the March 2024 ballot. The ordinance would require that housing concerns must be addressed in hotel development and creates a program similar to Project Roomkey to place unhoused families in vacant hotel rooms.
The protesters also called on the hotel industry to raise wages so that working families can reside in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Hotel Minimum Wage is $18.86 an hour which means that a hotel worker would have to work 17 hours a day to afford a 2 bedroom apartment.
“Tourism is one of the biggest industries in Los Angeles, and it’s one of the most profitable. Yet the workers who make that industry thrive face housing insecurity and rapidly increasing rents. For too many, the dream of affording a home in the city where they work is completely out of reach. Some of these workers are even unhoused. This must change — and the hospitality industry can join us to be a part of the solution.” said Hugo Soto-Martinez, Los Angeles City Councilmember District 13.
Hotels rooms under construction per “Hospitality Market Report – Los Angeles” prepared by Elyse Kirby for STR, accessed January 4, 2023 [login required]. See also affordable housing units approved by the City of Los Angeles.
Six councilmembers commit to vote NO on vacation rental loophole
Los Angeles, CA: In a show of unity and commitment, five Los Angeles city councilmembers Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz, Nithya Raman, and Monica Rodriguez held a press conference to unveil steps to protect housing for thousands of Angelenos by stronger enforcement of the city’s Home-sharing ordinance.
In an effort to further enforce the city’s strong home-sharing ordinance, Councilmembers Blumenfield, Koretz, and Raman, all filed separate motions with City Planning and Land Use Management recently.
“The City’s home sharing program has pulled thousands of much-needed housing units off the market, adding to our already disastrous homeless problem and has been beset by non-compliance, criminal activity and the destruction of once quiet single-family neighborhoods” said Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz of the Fifth District. “If we’re going to take home sharing and its many challenges seriously, we need to provide the Planning Department with the resources necessary to effectively enforce the ordinance, and this needs to be done before we start digging a deeper hole with a vacation rentals program. We currently require primary residency for a reason. What possible excuse is there for this change?”
Elected officials pledged to vote “NO” on a Vacation Rental Loophole currently being considered, warning that the passage of it would take 14,000 homes off the market and convert them into short-term rental units and profoundly complicate the enforcement of short-term rental regulations in place. It would also create dire consequences for LA’s housing market with poor communities of color being the most affected. The loophole is expected to come to a vote in the coming weeks.
“If the City is struggling to enforce the home-sharing ordinance we already have on the books, what makes us think we’re ready to put in place a new vacation rental ordinance that, even when properly enforced, would allow almost 15,000 additional units to be taken off the rental market and turned into Airbnbs,” said Councilmember Raman. “I pledge to vote NO on the Vacation Rental Loophole currently being considered.”
“The adopted short term rental ordinance was explicitly written to limit participation to primary residences in order to protect our critical housing stock. We cannot reopen that loophole in the midst of a housing crisis. Housing needs to be protected for those who live and work in Los Angeles,” said Councilwoman Rodriguez
“We need to protect our housing stock and ensure that we’re maximizing the amount of units available for Angelenos; it’s imperative that we don’t allow ‘vacation rentals’ to become a loophole that decimates the protections in the short term rental legalization policy we adopted a few short years ago.” said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. “Right now, there are thousands of illegal short-term rentals available on various platforms throughout the city. We must strengthen enforcement and reject adding loopholes that will lead to more expensive housing.”
Councilmember Bonin was one of the main sponsors of the original home-sharing ordinance passed in 2018 to address an extreme shortage of affordable housing and the negative effects of short-term rentals on long-term housing markets. The Ordinance strictly limits home sharing to primary residences and requires “hosts” of short-term rentals to register for a permit. It also prohibits “host platforms” from processing bookings for listings without a valid City Home-Sharing registration number.
“We need to put a stake in the heart of this harmful vacation rental proposal, which would take thousands of units off the rental market in the middle of a housing and homelessness crisis,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “The proposed vacation rental ordinance would shred any hope of enforcing existing short-term rental rules and would do real harm.”
The event came as housing advocates, working Angelinos and UNITE HERE Local 11 increased their calls for stricter enforcement of the HSO and demand that council reject the proposed VRO.
“When COVID hit I lost my job and my way of life. As a single mother I could not afford to pay the rent of a one-bedroom apartment and was forced to move farther and farther away from my job. I currently live in a small garage where I am barely getting by and live-in fear of becoming homeless every day,” said Clara Meza, member of UNITE HERE Local 11 who has worked as a food prep cook at Sky Chef’s for 36 years.
Although unable to attend in person, Councilmember De Leon said in a statement, “The fact that an eviction moratorium is the only thing preventing many Angelenos from living on the street is a clarion call for all of us to focus on increasing the number of permanently available units at any given time. In a moment like this, anything that detracts from that, like the vacation rental ordinance, should be off the table,” said Councilmember De Leon.
Amid housing crisis, LA City Council expected to vote on a loophole that would take 14,000 homes off the market and convert them into short-term rental units
Los Angeles, CA: In an extraordinary show of unity around the issue of short-term rental regulation, most of the Los Angeles City Attorney candidates joined UNITE HERE Local 11, Better Neighbors Los Angeles, and Strategic Action for a Just Economy to call on the city to reject a proposed loophole – the Vacation Rental Ordinance – that would convert as many as 14,000 homes into short term rentals amid a growing housing crisis and make enforcement of the current Home Sharing Ordinance much more difficult.
“The existing Home Sharing Ordinance is not being enforced consistently, and the Vacation Rental Ordinance would exacerbate the problem. Loosening the rules to allow people to turn their second homes into de-facto hotels hurts our city’s hard working hotel workers who have spent years winning union health benefits, pensions and wages they deserve,” said Teddy Kapur, City Attorney candidate.
The City Attorney candidates warned that if the Vacation Rental loophole were to pass, it would profoundly complicate the already slow enforcement of short-term rental regulations that the current LA City Attorney and Planning staff have struggled to implement. The loophole would create dire consequences for LA’s housing market with poor communities of color being the most affected. In a letter, Better Neighbors says the City estimates that between 6,000 to 10,000 housing units have been removed from the traditional rental market and converted by their owners to short-term rentals. The loophole would remove thousands more and make enforcement of the existing Ordinance nearly impossible.
“The illegal conversion of rent-stabilized and affordable housing units into short-term rentals must stop. Increased enforcement of the City’s Home Sharing Ordinance is the fastest way, and the least expensive way, to protect our affordable housing stock, to protect our most vulnerable renters from being pushed into homelessness, and to prevent harm to neighborhoods by commercial operators. This proposed Vacation Rental Ordinance, unfortunately, will harm our ability to enforce the restrictions written into the City’s Home Sharing Ordinance because it will interfere with the two best enforcement tools we have — the requirement that short-term rentals must be a primary residence, and the prohibition of rent-stabilized units being listed as short-term rentals. The Vacation Rental Ordinance could end up having the unintended result of actually accelerating our low-income and affordable housing crisis,” said Kevin James, who is running for LA City Attorney.
Los Angeles passed the Home Sharing Ordinance in 2018 to address an extreme shortage of affordable housing and the negative effects of short-term rentals on long-term housing markets. The Ordinance strictly limits home sharing to primary residences and requires “hosts” of short-term rentals to register for a permit. It also prohibits “host platforms” from processing bookings for listings without a valid City Home Sharing registration number.
“Accountability starts and ends with enforceability,” said Hydee Feldstein Soto, a candidate for Los Angeles City Attorney. “The pending vacation and RSO ordinances make housing supply and especially rent stabilized units vulnerable to those who would skirt the law on short term rentals since enforcement becomes impractical if not impossible.”
The Vacation Rentals ordinance would blur the strongest enforcement line in the Home Sharing Ordinance – the primary residence requirement. If passed, it would allow commercial hosts to remove a second home from the housing market and convert it to a short-term rental. The loophole would so complicate the investigation process as to make it nearly impossible for the City to determine if a short-term rental is listed illegally. Because it is the responsibility of the Los Angeles City Attorney to enforce the City’s laws, these enforcement policy questions are an important element of the 2022 LA City Attorney election campaign.
“The Los Angeles City Attorney’s unwillingness to enforce the protections outlined in the Home Sharing Ordinance has left countless Angelenos vulnerable to displacement and homelessness. To make matters worse, the City’s proposed Vacation Rental Ordinance will only complicate regulating the short-term rental industry and further burden impacted communities. Affordable, accessible housing is a human right, and the City needs to focus on strengthening 一 not weakening 一 renter protection laws,” said Faisal Gill, LA City Attorney candidate.
EVICTION PROTECTION UNDER THE COVID-19 TENANT RELIEF ACT
The following is helpful information about renters’ rights and rental assistance.
Am I entitled to protection from eviction under this law?
Yes, if the basis for the eviction is your failure to pay rent owed from March 2020 to June 30, 2021 due to “COVID-19-related financial distress.”
Examples of “COVID-19-related financial distress” include:
- Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Increased expenses directly related to the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limit your ability to earn income;
- Increased costs for childcare or attending to an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced your income or increased your expenses.
How do I qualify for this protection?
- For protection from eviction through June 30, 2021, you MUST provide a written declaration to your landlord or property manager each month you are unable to pay rent due to a COVID-19 related loss. You can still send declarations for past months unless you have been served with a Fifteen Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.
- Make sure to specify the month covered by the declaration; keep a copy of the declaration; and keep proof that the declaration was submitted (e.g., certified mail or email).
- For protection from eviction at any time on the basis of unpaid rent for the time period from September 2020 through June 30, 2021, you MUST also pay the landlord 25% of the total rent due for the period on or before June 30, 2021.
- Make sure to specify the rental period that the 25% payment covers (e.g., “25% for February 2021”); keep proof that you paid the rent (e.g., rent receipt); and keep proof that payment was made (e.g., certified mail).
- Note that the remaining unpaid 75% of the rent owed for those months will remain collectible by the landlord through a small claims court proceeding starting August 1, 2021, unless the landlord receives funding for those months through the State Rental Assistance Program as described below.
What if I cannot afford to pay 25% of the total rent due for the period from September 2020 through June 2021 required to qualify for eviction protection?
The State Rental Assistance Program provides the following two options for rental assistance for rent owed from April 2020 through March 31, 2021:
- OPTION 1 — This option requires your landlord’s participation in the program. The program allows your landlord to apply for funds to compensate it for 80% of unpaid rent from April 2020 through March 31, 2021. If your landlord receives this funding, the amount of unpaid rent you owe for this time period will be deemed paid in full.
- OPTION 2 — If your landlord does not participate in the program, then you may apply directly to the program and can receive 25% of the rent owed from April 2020 to March 31, 2021 to pay your landlord.
What kind of rental assistance is available if you cannot afford to pay rent that will be due for the period from April 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021?
You may apply directly to the program for funds to cover 25% of the rent for the months of April, May, and June of 2021, but it will be subject to funding availability. Funding for payment of rent from April 2020 to March 2021 due will be given priority.
What do I need to know about applying for direct rental assistance?
All tenants may apply regardless of immigration status. Tenants who have a household income that is not more than 80% of the area median income will be given priority.
You will need to show proof of loss of income due to COVID-19, which may include any of the following:
- A letter of termination from your job
- Your most recent pay stub with employer’s information
- Documentation showing that you have applied for unemployment benefits
- Documentation showing that your unemployment benefits have expired, including unemployment benefits provided through the CARES Act
- For those self-employed: tax records, income statements, or other documentation showing loss of income
- Other items will be considered
Where can I get more information about the State Rental Assistance Program?
Call 833-422-4255 or visit https://landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/ for more information on the California rental assistance program. The state program is already accepting applications. You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible while funding is available.
Apply for city-specific rental relief programs in California at the following links:
City of LA: https://hcidla.lacity.org (Applications will be accepted starting March 30, 2021)
City of Riverside: https://www.riversideca.gov/homelesssolutions/housing-authority/riverside-rental-assistance-program (Application can be submitted now)
City of San Bernardino:
http://sbcity.org/cityhall/community_n_economic_development/housing/eviction_prevention_program_.asp (Application can be submitted now)
What are my obligations for the payment of rent after June 30, 2021?
- For protection from eviction, you are responsible for payment of 100% of your rent starting July 1, 2021.
- The balance of the unpaid rent due to COVID-19-related financial distress is still owed. The law permits a claim for the unpaid rent to be brought in small claims court beginning August 1, 2021, even if the amount owed would otherwise be more than current small claims court limits.
Lawsuit Forces Short-Term Rental Platform Out of L.A. Market
Citing lax public enforcement, activists vow more action to uphold city’s Home Sharing Ordinance
Los Angeles, CA: A short-term rental host and platform announced last week that it will stop offering short-term rentals in the City of Los Angeles. The announcement comes just days after residents filed the first lawsuit seeking to enforce the Los Angeles Home Sharing Ordinance.
“Synergy’s capitulation is a huge victory for laid-off hospitality workers, housing advocates, and neighborhood activists working to ensure Los Angeles enforces its existing regulations on short-term rentals,” said Randy Renick, partner at Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai. “It is the City Council’s responsibility to enforce the law, but we won’t let their failure keep us from taking action to protect our clients.”
Laid off hospitality workers filed their lawsuit against Synergy Global Housing LLC on December 1 alleging that the company is violating the city’s Home Sharing Ordinance that has been in effect since July 2019. Synergy is a member of CapitaLand, a real estate company headquartered and publicly traded in Singapore.
Los Angeles passed the Home-Sharing Ordinance to address an extreme shortage of affordable housing and the negative effects short-term rentals on the long-term housing market. The Ordinance strictly limits home sharing to primary residences and requires “hosts” of short-term rentals to register for a permit. It also prohibits “host platforms” from processing booking transactions for listings without a valid City Home Sharing registration number.
Better Neighbors LA released a review last week showing that the city’s poor enforcement of the Ordinance has left the city inundated with illegal short-term rentals. Despite the lack of enforcement, just last month the Los Angeles Planning Committee, led by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, voted 3–1 to move to the full council a massive loophole in the existing Home Sharing Ordinance. The proposed Vacation Rental Ordinance would allow nearly 15,000 additional short-term, Airbnb-type rental units in the city.
Community groups like Better Neighbors LA and UNITE HERE Local 11, who expect the Vacation Rental Ordinance to reach the full council for a vote in January, have been urging against the Vacation Rental Ordinance as L.A. renters face a possible eviction crisis because of the economic impact of COVID-19.