While the Long Beach City Clerk’s office is slated to begin verifying signatures for one proposed local ballot initiative, to qualify it for placement on the November ballot, another is still in the signature-gathering phase.
The city clerk’s office tallied 46,084 signatures for a ballot initiative aimed at creating hotel worker safety protections and workload restrictions, which the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community submitted on May 22. The clerk’s office is slated to begin the verification process, which ensures that the signatures are from Long Beach registered voters, on June 21. The deadline to complete this process is July 5.
The proposed Hotel Workplace Requirements and Restrictions ordinance would apply to hotels with 50 or more rooms. It mandates that hotels provide personal alarms to employees who work in guest rooms without other workers present, and to post signage informing guests of this practice. The proposed ordinance also restricts the amount of space a worker is allowed to clean in an eight-hour workday, and bars hotels from assigning more than two hours of overtime in a day without written consent. However, a unionized hotel may receive exemptions to the proposed regulations.
The Long Beach City Council voted down a similar ordinance by a narrow margin last fall. Councilmembers who voted against it were Suzie Price, Al Austin, Stacy Mungo, Dee Andrews and Daryl Supernaw. The Long Beach Hospitality Alliance, an arm of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, also expressed opposition to that ordinance and to the current proposal.
The Business Journal is also opposed to the initiative. “The fact that if a non-union hotel unionizes exempts it from the initiative’s requirements says it all,” stated Publisher George Economides. “This has nothing to do with helping employees and everything to do with gaining more union members and dues for union bosses.”
The other proposed city ballot initiative would establish a rent control policy in Long Beach. After failing to meet the June deadline to qualify for the November ballot, members of the #RentControlNOW Coalition behind the proposal are striving to submit their petition signatures by July 30. If they achieve their goal, the initiative could qualify for the March 2020 ballot, according to Long Beach City Clerk Monique De La Garza.
“We were originally gunning for the November 2018 election. But we had created a multitude of plans, so depending on how the campaign ended up going we’d be fine submitting to either,” Jordan Wynne, a community organizer for coalition member Housing Long Beach, said. “The sooner we can get this issue heard, the more rapidly and efficiently we can help tenants in this city.” Housing Long Beach is a nonprofit that aims to improve and increase the amount of affordable housing in the city.
The proposal would set a maximum allowable rent increase based on the consumer price index, the average that consumers pay for goods and services. No more than one rent increase per year could be enacted. It would also establish just causes for eviction and a rent board to handle appeals. It would make rents retroactive to January 1, 2017.
In addition to Housing Long Beach, other supporters of the proposal include the Long Beach Gray Panthers and the Long Beach Tenants Union. Other organizations such as Better Housing For Long Beach and the Apartment Association of Southern California Cities have spoken out against it, as has the Business Journal.