LA City Council to vote on initiative that would require hotels to give up empty rooms to the homeless

On Friday, the Los Angeles City Council will consider passing an ordinance that would house homeless people in empty hotel rooms. If it passes, every hotel in Los Angeles will have to report their vacancies.

According to the measure, "Each hotel shall communicate to the Department or its designee, in a form that the Department prescribes, by 2 p.m. each day the number of available rooms at the hotel for that night." 

"It’s crazy," said Ray Patel, the president of the Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Association.

Patel said members of the association are worried.

"I can't screen who ends up in my hotel rooms?" he said. "How do I protect my other customers and my staff?"

Members of Unite Here Local 11, who are behind the initiative, say they have already gathered 126,000 signatures in favor.  Council members could decide to put it on the ballot if they don’t approve it outright.

Maria Hernandez, communications director of Unite Here Local 11 said this picks up where the phased-out Project Room Key left off. The Los Angeles initiative paid hotels to house homeless individuals during the pandemic but did not force them. This initiative includes language indicating that hotels not accepting the vouchers could be sued.

FOX 11 reached out to Mike Feuer's office for comment and staff with the Los Angeles City Attorney issued the following statement:

"This is a third-party sponsored ballot measure and our Office cannot comment on it before passage. I would ask the proponents what enforcement measures they are proposing."

The Council will discuss the initiative Friday and do have the option to either approve it or let the voters decide in a future election. However, one thing is for certain: Friday's meeting should bring a lot of public interest, possibly drawing loud reactions.