Members of Unite Here Local 11, the union representing striking hotel workers throughout Southern California including here in Santa Monica, have officially filed paperwork to place a measure on the 2024 ballot to fund a hospitality workforce housing fund through a fee on hotel room sales and home-sharing. You can read the proposed ballot measure here and the “notice of intent” letter that accompanied the text here.
Money raised for the fund would be used to provide or subsidize affordable housing in Santa xc Monica for hotel workers, many of whom commute hours for their jobs. This is the second ballot initiative filed by Unite Here members in the past several weeks. In July, they submitted a measure that would raise the minimum wage in Santa Monica to a national high of $30 an hour.
“We work so hard every day in Santa Monica to make it possible for our tourism business to thrive, but it has become impossible for many of us to find a place to live anywhere near here. Some of us travel hours each day for work. It can’t go on like this,” said Liliana Hernandez, housekeeper from the Fairmont Miramar** in a press statement.
If it qualifies for the ballot and is passed by voters, the initiative would “help address Santa Monica’s inadequate stock of affordable workforce housing” according to a press release by Unite Here. It creates the “Affordable Housing for Hospitality Workers Fund” which would be funded by a seven percent tax on hotel room sales and a fifteen percent tax on home-shares and vacation rentals.
Once the City Clerk signs off on the submitted language, the union will have 180 days to gather a minimum of about 6,740–approximately 10% of total registered Santa Monica voters–unique valid signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. Only the signatures of registered Santa Monica voters will count toward the 6,740 total Unite Here will need to gather. The city has 15 days to
For the most part, Santa Monica’s political class is still weighing the measure, although several Councilmembers including Jesse Zwick, Caroline Torosis, Phil Brock and Mayor Gleam Davis have joined the picket lines. Torosis is the only one who responded to a request from Next to comment on the measure.
“I look forward to studying the text of the measure,” wrote Torosis.
“Fundamentally, I believe that people should be able to live near where they work – it’s good for families, for the environment, and for public health. The backbone of Santa Monica’s tourist infrastructure deserves these benefits amidst a worsening affordable housing crisis. “
** The Fairmont Miramar is an advertiser on Santa Monica Next. Neither the Fairmont Miramar nor any of their representatives were contacted about this article.