The nascent campaign to freeze construction of new hotels in West Hollywood for 24 months is evolving, with several changes made in the petition that residents will be asked to sign and former City Councilmember Steve Martin signing on as a supporter.
The campaign has been initiated by Unite Here Local 11, the hotel and restaurant workers union. The goals of the initial petition, summarized by the City Attorney, were to “prohibit the city from accepting or processing applications for construction of new hotels, expansion of existing hotels or conversion of buildings into hotels during the term of the moratorium.
“The moratorium would not apply to hotel projects that have a legal pre-existing vested right to be built or new mixed-use projects that include at least ten units of affordable housing and for which an application has been accepted and reviewed.”
The new petition includes the same goals and exemptions, but adds that the moratorium would not apply to … new mixed-use projects that include at least ten units of affordable housing for the first 200 hotel units and an additional ten units of affordable housing for each additional 100 hotel units, or portion thereof, and for which an application has been accepted and reviewed; (3) dormitories or other school-related living facilities; (4) hospitals, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities; (5) hotel projects that have as a condition of approval a requirement that all hotel units have a minimum rental term of three months or more; (6) hotel projects with four of fewer hotel units; and (7) hotels that are rebuilding following damage from a fire or natural disaster.”
A notice of the intent to circulate the petition cites a consultant’s report in 2015 that said the surge in new hotel rooms would have a negative impact for several years on existing hotels. The notice of intent says that sites for some of the proposed hotels could be used for multi-unit housing developments and cites the regional housing shortage.
The request that the City of West Hollywood create a summary statement of the ordinance, which is required by law, includes a statement of intent to circulate a petition that is signed by Jorge Separak, a West Hollywood resident who works at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills; Riley O’Brien, a West Hollywood resident who describes himself as a housing advocate, and Steve Martin, a lawyer and former member of the West Hollywood City Council. All three also have signed the official statement in support of Measure B, an initiative by Unite Here to rescind the City Council’s approval of the Arts Club on Sunset Boulevard. Measure B will be on the March 5 city election ballot.
It is too late to put the hotel moratorium on the March 5 ballot. In order to put it on the ballot for the November 2020 election, its backers will have to secure the signatures of 10% of West Hollywood registered voters. The union was able to get enough signatures to force the Arts Club rescission proposal on the March 2019 ballot but was unable to get enough to put on the November 2018 ballot a measure to rescind the City Council’s approval of the Robertson Lane hotel and shopping center project.
Faring, the developer of the Robertson Lane project, mounted an aggressive campaign to convince local residents not to sign the union’s petition. It is unclear who, if anyone, will launch a similar campaign against the hotel moratorium proposal.