Late yesterday, we sent out a Newsflash that the Long Beach City Council is considering a hotel labor ordinance at its meeting next Tuesday. While the wording of the proposal – Hospitality Workload & Safety Ordinance – has a how-can-you-object ring to it, the real purpose is near the end of the four-page document: “Waiver: Allowing for waivers of this ordinance if a bona fide collective bargaining agreement is established with equivalent protections.”


In the second paragraph, the document quotes a recent Business Journal story that examines how well the hotel industry in our city is doing: “Hotel Occupancy Skyrockets; Long Beach Hotels Well Above National Average.” That fact should be applauded by our elected officials rather than used as an excuse to interfere in hotel operations.


Why are local hotels doing so well? Beyond the hard work led by the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and hotel GMs and their staff, and the strong, vocal support of Mayor Robert Garcia, it’s because city government – specifically city councilmembers – have avoided telling hoteliers how to conduct their business.


Even before the Great Recession, our hotel industry suffered greatly for years. Most local hotels were losing money, trimming staff and reducing room rates to stay afloat. In response, the CVB – in collaboration with hotel staff and the Long Beach Convention Center – set up marketing strategies, opened sales offices in key cities from Northern California to Washington, D.C., and convinced city officials to spruce up the city to make it more appealing to meeting planners.


Most conventions are set five years in advance, so the marketing efforts pushed from 2007 to 2012 began showing positive results in 2013. Those efforts were kicked into high gear with the reimagining of convention center space, which has been lauded nationwide. The results: record room tax dollars are being generated for the city, sales tax revenues are up, more hotels are opening and positive stories about Long Beach are appearing in national publications. The hard work is paying off.


Long Beach is on a roll, as the mayor recently told the Business Journal. We agree and completely share the mayor’s enthusiasm, and apparently so do the hoteliers. Most major hotels in the city have invested in renovations and upgrades. The only way the momentum stops, outside of a natural disaster, is if councilmembers get involved in telling business how to conduct their operations.


We hope this is not another example of the one step forward two steps back dance that has plagued this city for decades. Every time Long Beach is on the edge of greatness, elected officials overreach and we stub our toes. On Tuesday night, councilmembers need to defeat this proposal from going forward. And if they don’t, Mayor Garcia must veto it.